Photo of line at BARC goes viral, both sides respond

Published 4:22 pm, Thursday, June 29, 2017

Spreading the word of animal wellness and the epidemic of stray animals in Houston is a serious issue that will spawn emotion in pet owners and social media posters alike. One post by the Special Needs Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation Facebook page has gone viral, leaving many divided and questioning the intent of the post.

A photo was taken Tuesday by Alli Richard, a Board Member of SNARR, in front of the second building at BARC.

“I was there to look for a friend’s lost dogs and snapped the picture to show her I was there and to capture a typical day at the shelter. I sent it to our Board as well,” Richard told Chron.com. “After overhearing the conversations between people in line and staff coming out twice to ask why we were there so they could take wellness clinic visitors in through the other door, I realized that, in that moment, the line pictured was made up of owner surrenders, except for the two gentlemen (grey shirt and red shirt) at the back of the picture that were there for wellness services.”

After she took the picture, she told Chron.com that 45 minutes later another board member posted the Facebook post below.

The post and photo went viral and immediately people wanted clarification. One of the commenters was BARC’s Deputy Assistant Director, Ashtyn Rivet.

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“Yes, the building in the photo is on BARC’s campus,” Rivet told Chron.com. “The people standing in the line that you see are there to turn in an animal, visit the public pet wellness center or take a foster pet to our foster clinic. While some of these individuals may have been there to turn in an animal, it is very likely that many were there for pet wellness services.”

That’s when the Richard from SNARR tried to clarify.

“Unfortunately the post shared by SNARR was misconstrued, and we’ve received a lot of comments and messages from people that feel owners were shamed for being there or felt the shelter was being attacked,” said Richard. “That wasn’t the intention at all.”

SNARR did go back and edit the post to, ‘include that the gentlemen in the back were wellness clinic visitors.’

BARC is the city’s municipal animal shelter, which means they are required by law to take in every cat and dog, over 26,000 animals per year, that comes through their doors. Many of the animals that come into the BARC facility are stray animals, but others are surrendered by owners.

“Although we encourage Houstonians to only take animals to BARC as a last resort, we do not pass judgment on those that choose to turn in animals to the shelter,” said Rivet. “However, we know that there is a stray animal epidemic and a lack of responsible pet ownership education in Houston. “

BARC has implemented a community outreach and education programs that consist of regular elementary school presentations and door-to-door outreach in targeted neighborhoods. The door-to-door outreach includes a no-cost concierge spay or neuter service.

“We need for Houstonians to get involved in the effort to spread the word about what it means to be a responsible pet owner. Without the community’s involvement, this epidemic will continue,” said Rivet with BARC.

Richard told Chron.com the intent of the post was to make people more aware of the overpopulation problem in Houston and across the nation, not to put BARC in a bad light.

“BARC has implemented a lot of programs to improve the community’s knowledge and access to low-cost vet care, and we have reached out to BARC to offer to sponsor a clinic as well, because we know community outreach, access to low-cost care, along with spaying and neutering pets, is key to helping pets stay in their home,” Richard said. “BARC is doing a wonderful job in Houston and we want to encourage more clinics like theirs for Houston.”

For more information about BARC and what they do, visit www.houstonbarc.com or click above and see the dog’s that are available for adoption.

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