Mayor's Office Press Release

City of Houston's Animal Shelter and Adoption Center to Close Intake for 7 Days to Combat Spread of Upper Respiratory Illness

April 9, 2018 -- BARC, the City of Houston’s Animal Shelter and Adoption Center, will close animal intake Tuesday, April 10, through Monday, April 16, to address an unusually high presence of upper respiratory illness in the shelter.

While the shelter is closed, BARC has partnered with Rescued Pets Movement, Houston Pets Alive!, and Austin Pets Alive! to encourage as many Houstonians as possible to foster or adopt to protect the shelter's healthy animals from the illness.

“Out of concern for the hundreds of healthy animals who come to BARC each week, as well as BARC’s spay and neuter and wellness clinic customers, BARC has decided to take immediate, preemptive measures to isolate the issue,” said Greg Damianoff, assistant director for BARC. “Temporarily closing the shelter will allow BARC to focus our resources on treating sick animals, but getting the many healthy and adoptable animals out of BARC and into foster, rescue or adopted homes is also essential.”

BARC is committed to the highest standards of pet welfare, veterinary practices, and facilities sanitation. In recent weeks, BARC has identified a presence of respiratory illness symptoms in its population and has quarantined dogs who have tested positive for distemper —an ever-present, yet treatable concern in communities with large populations of stray animals.

BARC's intake, regular wellness programs and spay/neuter clinic will close April 10-16 to allow BARC to:

  • Identify, isolate, and treat infected animals
  • Carefully monitor healthy but exposed animals for future symptoms
  • Ensure that no animals are placed into the community until they are without symptoms or past the incubation period
  • Conduct a deep cleaning of the shelter to reduce further contamination

Distemper symptoms may include thick nasal discharge, coughing, sneezing and, in severe cases, the neurological system, causing seizures, tremors and death. Individuals who have adopted dogs within the past 30 days from BARC that show potential symptoms are encouraged to contact the shelter for free medical treatment. BARC will also refund adoptions fees and accept returned animals from those who are unable or unwilling to care for potentially sick animals.

While BARC is closed, BARC’s rescue partners, Rescued Pets Movement, Houston Pets Alive!, and Austin Pets Alive! implore members of the community to help the shelter by fostering, adopting healthy animals from the shelter, or donating their funds or time. Pets available for adoption can be found at http://www.houstontx.gov/barc/, but potential pet owners are encouraged to visit BARC at 3300 Carr Street, Houston 77026 and meet each animal in person. BARC is open for adoptions seven days a week from noon to 5:00 p.m.

ABOUT BARC

BARC, the City of Houston’s Animal Shelter and Adoption Center, takes in between 25,000 and 30,000 animals annually regardless of behavior, breed, or medical condition. BARC works each day to improve the health and safety of Houstonians and their pets by pioneering programs such spay/neuter services, mobile adoptions, transfer/rescue partnerships, and community outreach. Through these programs and with support from community partners, BARC’s live release rate has improved from single-digits in 2009 to an 84% in 2017.

ABOUT RESCUED PETS MOVEMENT | https://www.rescuedpetsmovement.org/

Rescued Pets Movement Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization that provides a second chance for thousands of homeless dogs and cats through rehabilitation and transport to forever homes in communities throughout the country and Canada that have a demand for adoptable pets.

ABOUT HOUSTON PETS ALIVE! | http://www.houstonpetsalive.org/

Houston Pets Alive! is a 501(c)3 organization… comprised of animal-loving volunteers [who] want to save lives. Volunteers come from all professions including veterinarians, lawyers, housewives, students and more!

ABOUT AUSTIN PETS ALIVE! | http://www.austinpetsalive.org/

Austin Pets Alive! fills critical gaps in Austin’s animal live-outcome rate by identifying the key groups of animals that are typically euthanized in a shelter setting and maintaining comprehensive [and] innovative programs to address the problems these key groups face.