Mac is a cutie! Earlier this year, I lost two of my faithful dogs to old age and cancer and I thought, “That’s it, no more dogs.” Until… in October, Alex saw Mac at the Pan American Courts, escorted by the Laredo Animal Care Facility staff.
I had always dealt with LAPS but not the city shelter so this was new ground. I knew that we wanted to first foster because we needed to see if the two dogs would be compatible. So far, so good. I knew as a foster that I would be responsible for food and any illness but I was not prepared for all of the city’s mixed messages.
The process for adoption should be straightforward, you agree to $137 adoption fee (although the city website says $60.00!); in exchange, the animal should be healthy, vaccinated, chipped and neutered . But here’s the deal, Mac had been at the shelter for over a month, longer than most dogs. He was destined to be put down pretty soon. He was skinny and had tick fever and was supposedly on medication. What is supposed to happen is that the LACF should be adopting out dogs with a city chip, not ill, neutered/spayed, and basic shots. Tick fever? Well, I figured he had to be at the end of treatment as I was verbally told and when the city said they would not be sending meds home with me, I figured it wouldn’t be a problem to continue the last of the treatment, even if we opted not to keep him. They told me that the city is pending some equipment for the facility to be able to neuter and spay and that there would be a delay because the new veterinarian that was hired was about to go on maternity leave. I was like… yikes… but OK. I am a pretty responsible owner and have a fenced in yard. I crossed my fingers that Mac would not get out and make the problem of pet overpopulation even worse.
I took Mac to Critter Care veterinarian clinic on October 20th. I told Dr. Leyendecker that I knew he had tick fever but it should be a matter of continuing a course that should be close to the end. She reviewed the city’s documentation, raised her eyebrow, and said “this information says they have been giving him 1 pill per day when the dosage for his weight should be 5 pills per day.” At every point, she gave me options to continue treatment or to return him. I said I’d take on starting treatment from scratch and treating him so there was that unexpected cost of 105 pills instead of just the last few. Dr. Leyendecker reviewed the paperwork and noticed there wasn’t information for heart worm prevention. I told her I assumed he would have been on a preventative but again, she gave me the option of continuing with having to pay for testing for heartworm and to give him heartworm preventative or to return him. I opted to bite the bullet and test & treat him. She then checked to make sure he had been chipped and had at least his rabies shot. He had. When it came time to ask about neutering, I told her that I was told the city wasn’t quite ready but that I was fostering until then. She looked at me and said, “You do know that probably won’t be until after January.” I told her that I was supposed to return to pay the $137 for adoption within a month and she said, “that’s not possible. We can have him neutered next week but it will cost you and you are still fostering.” She explained that the city formerly provided vouchers to pet owners adopting animals. I told her I could call LACF and ask if they would. I called from the vet’s office and spoke with Clarissa Rangel, the new director. She has always been professional and direct in her other city posts and she was again. She outright said, “We no longer provide vouchers, you will have to wait or you can opt to pay on your own.” I said I wouldn’t be able to comply with the adoption contract then which states:
I passed the phone to Dr. Leyendecker at the vet’s office. What surprised me was that as Dr. Leyendecker was asking her for a voucher to go ahead and neuter Mac that week, the doctor said something like, “I just want to remind you that by law, you cannot be adopting out animals without spaying or neutering and if you do, you are in violation. The city has got to stop handing out dogs without a plan.” The answer was “No.” So here we were between a financially-draining rock and a more-cost hard place and a sweet dog who would potentially make more puppies while we wait. The city was not going to budge on the voucher and they were not going to take care of their end of the bargain just yet. This was my initial visit receipt for Mac (minus the $45 for Bravecto that I opted for):
Frankly, I’m am not in a position to be shelling out even MORE costs for something the city was supposed to do. I was already in the $ hole for heartworm and tick fever treatments. I kept thinking… why didn’t we go look at the no-kill shelters first!! My heart couldn’t just return Mac, knowing his fate was pretty much sealed because he is a big dog and not a puppy. The city of Laredo’s website reads:
All pets are chipped, vaccinated against rabies, and spayed or neutered by the veterinarian to be ready for adoption: Fee $60.
I’m not unreasonable. I understand that there is a new director for the facility, a new veterinarian, new equipment coming in, new building being completed, BUT… then I get a call on Thursday, November 30th from the city’s LACF. The woman on the other end was fairly dry and wanted my proof that the dog had been neutered. I said “Huh?” LACF themselves had told me there would be a wait for equipment and no voucher would be provided to have a local vet do the procedure. I explained the visits and the back and forths and how they were giving me mixed messages. She ultimately said, “you can take your dog to a veterinarian and have the neutering done for $50 which will be deducted from the $137 you owe us.” which I know was not the price because of the previous visit with Critter Care. After that I just listened and finally hung up.
I called the Critter Care staff just to make sure I had my facts correct and they stated the cost for neutering a dog is by size and it starts at $130. Imagine Mac, initially 53 lbs and now fattened up a little bit after his bout with tick fever… $130 is the STARTING price.
So which is it Laredo’s Animal Care Facility??? Will you give me a voucher to neuter Mac? Will you neuter him with your fancy new equipment? Will you do it now or make me wait another month? Or do you expect me to pay the $237 vet bill, $130+ neutering bill, AND $137 adoption fee where your end of the bargain was not met??
As of this writing, there is a petition still circulating to demand changes at LACF and that is available here. Both pet advocates and the LACF will be at the city council meeting scheduled for Monday, December 4th – it will be a pretty big crowd. By the looks of it, several representatives met for an initial meeting to iron out a few things:
Of course, I am still left with questions for neutering my “STILL FOSTER” Mac…