City's animal shelter needs your help

HOUSTON There are hundreds of cats and dogs waiting for a new home or having to stay at BARC, the city of Houston's animal shelter. There are 190 cats and 360 dogs. It's just too much.

"We have seen the economic factors in the last year particularly drive the animals coming in over the counter by 50 percent," said Dave Atencio with BARC.

But it's not just families who've fallen on hard times bringing pets in. The law also requires BARC to care for some of these animals when their owner is arrested, bite cases and animal cruelty victims.

"It takes up kennel space, but it also means that they're here for a little bit longer," said Atencio.

That's where volunteers like Mike Kinsella, come in.

"We're adopting out maybe 60 to 80 on weekends, and we're bringing in 80 to 100 a day," he said. "They don't match up. You do the math."

It's not a pretty picture.

"Families coming in are real emotional, in tears because they have to give up a pet for jobs, housing, whatever reasons they have," said Kinsella.

That's why BARC holds weekend events, "Wags to Whiskers," where right now you can adopt at a 2 for 1 price, or half off, which is just $27.50 a pet.

With Christmas approaching, you might be thinking about doing just that.

"It's not a good idea to surprise someone," said Atencio. "But it's a great idea to bring someone down, and ensure that it's the right match."

BARC is open on Christmas Day this year for limited hours when you could pick a pet and give one of these guys a happy holiday. It's what makes all the work worthwhile to volunteers like Kinsella.

"When you see a pet leave, with the tail wagging, and the kids, and the whole family, that's the whole reward," said Kinsella.

If you do adopt, be sure to have veterinary care lined up. You can find out more about BARC adoptions here.

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