Harris County Judge Ed Emmett called for a region-wide stray animal summit on Tuesday, and also said euthanasia can be reduced if stray dogs can find homes outside of Texas in states with pet shortages.
It's something he saw recently at the opening of a county animal control facility,
"Other states actually send trucks down and pick up dogs to take them back to their state for adoption," Emmett said. "They have a shortage of dogs to be adopted. That was a heartening thing to see."
Emmett's summit will include top city and county health officials, along with animal care groups, to talk about reducing animal overpopulation and ensure that fewer animals face euthanasia. Part of that plan may be increasing the dogs going to other states into homes that want them.
"You have so many well meaning people both in government and in the private sector that want to do something and I'm not sure they're as coordinated as they need to be," Emmett said. "I'm going to try and call everybody together, get everybody in one room and say 'What do we really need to be doing here' so we're more coordinated."
Emmett said he's meeting shortly with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and the issue of a summit will be discussed.
Stray animals in both the city and county has long been a troubling problem.
The county's animal facility is located inside the Houston city limits but only handles animals from unincorporated sections of Harris County. The city of Houston's BARC shelter is located nearby, and handles animals within the city proper.
Animal advocates applauded Emmett's comments.
"Everyone knows we're overpopulated with animals," Sandee Maxwell said. "The Harris County shelter takes in about 60 to 80 animals a day on a regular basis. You can do the math and see that that's a lot of animals."
Harris County Judge: Let's ship stray dogs out of state