BARC euthanizes almost 30 dogs just days after they underwent spay, neuter surgeries

13-month-old puppy named 'Kye' was spayed on March 1 at BARC, the city's animal shelter. On March 6, just 5 days later, she was euthanized.

'Leon' was euthanized, just 3 days after his surgery,

"He wasn't given a chance," said animal advocate Dawn Michelle. "As you can see here, he still has his cone on. He wasn't given a chance. He had three days to live."

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'Adam' met the same fate as 'Leon.' Three days after being altered at BARC, he was put down.

"These dogs didn't even have a chance to be adopted, fostered, rescued, or networked," Michelle said. "How do you neuter a dog and then three days later kill it?"

Michelle combed through three months of BARC records. She found 26 dogs had undergone spay or neuter surgery, only to be euthanized a few days later. 13 of the 26 dogs only lived seven days or less after the operation.

"I can't think of a better example of animal cruelty," said animal advocate Jimmy Burke. "Why spay or neuter a dog and turn around and kill them two, three, four days later? Ridiculous."

"It is shameful, it is wasteful," said Judy Hausler, who's rescued hundreds of dogs from BARC.

"Irresponsible," said animal advocate April Bowerman. "A waste of time and taxpayers' money to put them through that, just to kill them."


BARC records indicate ‘Simone’ was full term pregnant when she was spayed on April 13. She was euthanized six days later.

"They took over 24 pounds of puppies from her belly," said Michelle.

‘Red’ was also pregnant when she was spayed on March 24. She, too, was euthanized just six days after the surgery.

Keep in mind having a dog spayed or neutered and microchipped can cost several hundred dollars.

"Why are they using this money to spay and neuter dogs, and then turn around and euthanize them," Michelle said, "I don't understand it."

In a statement to FOX 26, BARC said: 

"BARC’s live release rate in 2022 was nearly 86%. This means that out of a total of 17,533 animals brought into our shelter in the previous calendar year, almost 90 percent saw a live outcome. Please confirm that your inquiry is specific to 27 out of the almost 18,000 animals that enter BARC’s facility annually.

Our current live release rate is consistent with municipal shelters in other major Texas cities such as San Antonio and Dallas. This number is a testament to the hard work our team does in collaboration with our many dedicated fosters, rescues, and local adopters who have helped us achieve this high live release rate. A summary of our 2022 year in review can be viewed here. More data, including monthly and annual reports, are viewable here.

Information about the 2022 bond election is viewable here. BARC’s projects are listed under proposition C. At this time, no bond funds have been issued by the City in relation to these projects. This money is already earmarked for specific projects as outlined in the provided link. 

As a publicly funded shelter, BARC has dual missions – protecting the safety of human beings while seeking positive outcomes for animals. BARC is committed to protecting Houstonians from potentially aggressive and dangerous animals in the community—as evidenced by the 29% higher intake of strays and animals collected by Animal Enforcement Officers during calls for service (9,098 in 2022 versus 7,0732 in 2021).  This year alone, our total monthly intake has been as high as 1,500 animals, and we’ve never been below 1,100. 

This large enforcement intake results, however, in a larger population of animals in the shelter that are unsocialized, have severe behavior or medical issues, and are thus highly unadoptable. Additionally, by law, BARC is required to accept every animal that comes through its doors regardless of breed, temperament, condition (health), or circumstance. This means that, unlike non-profit animal rescue organizations and shelters, BARC cannot turn animals away because the shelter is full or because an animal is aggressive, has a severe health condition, or is simply unlikely to be adopted. 

BARC publishes on its website our Urgent Pets, we recently updated this page to include more information on how the public can assist with live outcomes for these animals. Capacity is a factor in the determination of the Urgent Pets list, but not the primary one. BARC’s Urgent Pets list mainly includes pets with medical and behavioral conditions, and longer lengths of stay. The Code Red list, specifically, includes all pets that are at immediate risk for euthanasia the following day.  

The staff at BARC does not make euthanasia decisions lightly. Illness, behavior, and shelter capacity are all considerations. For example, there are instances when a pet's behavior is such that it becomes a danger to the staff and any potential adopter or foster parent, and the pet will be placed on the Code Orange and Code Red list more quickly than an animal whose length of stay may be longer. In other instances, an animal may come into the shelter with a severe health condition or injury, and our dedicated shelter veterinarians will have to make the tough decision that euthanasia is the more humane outcome for that pet. This may occur for animals that have received a spay or neuter surgery and must days later be euthanized due to medical or behavior reasons. 

Great progress has been made at BARC. As mentioned above, our live release rate continues to remain consistent with similarly sized Texas cities, despite a drop in rescue tagging, thanks in part to increasing foster and adoption rates. BARC also recently doubled its daily amount of available intake appointments and expanded the amount of open intake appointments from two to four weeks open at a time. We recently just completed our latest Empty the Shelters campaign, where more than 240 pets found their forever homes. Euthanasia is the option of last resort and is exercised only after all efforts to find adopters or rescue/fosters for adoptable animals have been exhausted. These efforts include funding for medications and pet supplies to allow pet owners to keep their pets rather than surrender them to homelessness. Each year the City of Houston also spends $488,150 on average, transporting 5,000+ animals to Colorado and other states where the animals are placed in forever homes. 

The City’s efforts are also aimed at the source of the stray population by funding community spay/neuter programs -- such as BARC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy Streets initiative – which expends $520,000 annually to support the spay/neuter of approximately 3,500 animals per year. These surgeries are free of cost to Houstonians and are performed through local spay/neuter clinics. And beginning in 2022, the City supplemented its annual spay/neuter funding by $500,000 to allow BARC to partner with additional local organizations such as Houston PetSet, K-9 Angels’ "Empty Shelter Project," and Houston Spay Neuter."

BARC appreciates the passion and concern of Houstonians for shelter animals as well as homeless animals, and we continue to ask animal advocates to show that support by volunteering to rescue and foster shelter pets if they have not already enrolled."