Horseshoe Bay Beacon
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No animal turned away at Christ-Yoder
Thursday, August 7, 2008 • Posted August 7, 2008

As an “open admission facility,” the Christ-Yoder Animal Shelter in Buchanan Dam takes in every dog and cat who reaches its doors. In 2007, that meant taking in 3,621 dogs and cats, a 33% increase over the number of animals it handled in 2006. Whether cute and cuddly, or injured, ill or abused, no animal is turned away or put on a waiting list.

The City of Horseshoe Bay is one of six cities that contracts with the Christ-Yoder Animal Shelter to take the dogs and cats picked up by their Animal Control Officers. Burnet and Llano Counties also contract with the shelter to take their animals. This fiscal year, HSB took 108 animals to the shelter under a contract which cost the city $1,500 for the year. The shelter is asking that the contract rate increase to $2,400 for the upcoming fiscal year.

Holly Griffith, President of the Hill Country Humane Society and Christ-Yoder Animal Shelter, says that strays account for the largest shelter population, but as the economy has worsened, the number of “owner surrender” animals has increased markedly.

Although the shelter is clean, air conditioned and full of new loving staff, all of its residents want to find a permanent home. The adoptable population mix varies but puppies, kittens, teenagers and adults are almost always anxiously waiting to meet visitors and potential families. Each animal condo is labeled with a pink (for female) or blue (for male) card with information helpful to potential adoptive families.

Sandy Matteson, Shelter Manager, explained that with the new staff, more emphasis is placed on each of their four legged guests, and the shelter works closely with all types of animal welfare groups including limited admission facilities. Matteson said the shelter also participates in special programs such as “senior dogs for senior citizens.”

Griffith candidly said that in the past, many of their animals were euthanized because they were ill, too aggressive, dangerous, poor adoption candidates or due to lack of room. But the shelter has instituted new guidelines which has broadened its core mission to help homeless animals, and has minimized its euthanasia rate. If a dog is too rough, the staff works with it to develop basic obedience demeanor. If an animal is sick with a treatable malady, staff will nurse it back to health, sometimes taking it home for round the clock care. Or, the shelter will offer reduced adoption fees if someone is willing to adopt a pet who needs treatment.

If your pet or “unofficial” outdoor animal visitor is ever missing, your first call should be to Christ-Yoder because that is where animal control for the city as well as the county will take Rover or Fluffy. State law requires shelters to keep a stray animal for 5 days before offering it for adoption.

To help owners recover their pets, the shelter began offering a microchip clinic on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month. Persons interested in this $25 service should call the shelter in advance to make an appointment as the shelter is normally closed on Thursdays and Fridays.

The 2007 annual operating expense for the shelter was $189,473. Since the shelter took in only $60,420 in fees and informal donations, the Board of Directors relies on the generosity of business and private donors. Besides Griffith, current board members include Vice President Wyatt Griffith, Secretary Linda Christ, Financial Manager Carol Adams, Human Resources Chair Karen Welcome, and directors Roger Welcome and Barbara Kemp.

Griffith explained that the term “open admission facility” was coined by the Humane Society of the United States, and Christ-Yoder is just one type of animal welfare organization. “There are many types of animal welfare organizations, groups and people – from national humane organizations, limited admission shelters, rescue group to a single animal control officer.”

Griffith emphasized that each animal welfare entity has its place and value, and that they all must work together for the welfare of homeless animals. “Christ-Yoder has a good reputation among reputable rescue groups with our willingness to contact them and go the extra mile to get adoptable animals into a rescue program.” Last year the shelter transferred 242 animals to other shelters or rescue programs, a significant increase over the 96 transfers in 2006.

The good news is that 279 loving animals were adopted from the shelter during 2007 and 224 were reclaimed by their owners. One free spirit managed to escape the shelter before giving adoption a chance.

The difficult news is that 1,062 animals were euthanized for medical reasons and 1,043 feral animals were euthanized. Griffith said that dogs and cats are observed and assessed to determine whether they are really feral or just overly frightened. The shelter requires concurrence between two people (staff, animal control officer or director) before authorizing euthanasia.

The 3 full time shelter employees and 4 part time employees are assisted by 20 volunteers. Griffith said that more volunteers are always needed and appreciated, most of all by the four legged residents who reward every kindness with licks and snuggles.

The shelter’s Wish List is simple – anything to help with dogs, cats or office work. The animals thrive on Science Diet cat, dog, kitty and puppy food. The dogs asked for chew sticks, pig ears and Milk Bones of all sizes. The kittens primly suggested sacks of plain clay kitty litter. Generic bleach and cleansers help keep everyone happy, and those old blankets or towels make perfect bedding for the animals.

The Christ-Yoder Animal Shelter, located on Hwy 1431 West, about a block north of Hwy 29 in Buchanan Dam, is open to the public Saturday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Call (512) 793-5463, email, or visit for more information about the shelter and its work. The website has photos of animals ready for adoption.

On Sunday afternoon, I visited with Lady Bird, an older, gentle black Labrador, who asked me to tell readers that she is house trained, obeys commands to sit, lie down and shake, and she is ready to adopt a human owner. On Monday afternoon, Matteson, the shelter director, emailed the good news — Lady Bird has been adopted. Hollywood couldn’t have scripted a better ending for this story.

If you want to be a part of another happy ending, visit Christ-Yoder and just give a whistle…you know how to whistle, don’t you?

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