Joint walks with community members, ACS, volunteers and Councilmember Shirley Gonzales (D5) to helping reduce the number of loose animals in District 5. Photo by Sean Encino.
Joint walks with community members, ACS, volunteers and Councilmember Shirley Gonzales (D5) to helping reduce the number of loose animals in District 5. Photo by Sean Encino.

The City of San Antonio recognized Kathy Davis, City director of Animal Care Services, for her years of service, during Council A-session on Thursday, March 10. Davis, who recently announced her retirement effective March 31, has served the City for more than three years.

When Davis arrived in San Antonio in 2012, there were few community partnerships and a 60% adoption rate of the city’s rescued animals. Through Davis’ leadership, Animal Care Services developed strong working partnerships with the Humane Society, the Animal Defense League, San Antonio Pets Alive!, and other area rescue partners.

Kathy Davis was recognized for her years of service during City Council A session on March 10, 2016. Photo Courtesy of City of San Antonio.
Kathy Davis was recognized for her years of service during City Council A-session on March 10, 2016. Photo Courtesy of City of San Antonio.

Her leadership has also been credited with the department’s achievements, including a 90% live release rate as of December 2015, and a significant reduction in the number of stray animals across the city.

City Council members and City Manager Sheryl Sculley personally thanked Davis for her dedication to the city and its residents — both human and furry.

“Kathy was able to synthesize a very complicated issue into three very important aspects of a solution: education of community, the importance of spay/neuter services and enforcement,” said Councilman Rey Saldaña (D4), who admitted that it won’t be easy to fill her shoes.

“Her replacement will have a lot to learn, and it might take a beat or two, but we’re not going to lose her initiatives,” Saldaña added. “Her staff is superb.” 

Davis’ work has made San Antonio an example for other cities that are trying to improve their outreach or achieve no-kill status. She has developed training and educational resources for residents in rural areas throughout Bexar County and residents who live in the metro area of San Antonio.

Rebecca Viagran (D3) and Mayor Ivy Taylor take a break from official business to play with rescued puppies. Photo by Robert Rivard.
Rebecca Viagran (D3) and Mayor Ivy Taylor take a break from official business to play with rescued puppies. Photo by Robert Rivard.

“Pets are members of our family and Kathy has really picked up on that,” said Katie Jarl, Texas State Director for Humane Society of the United States. “Her grass roots approach to animal welfare is the reason that San Antonio has been so successful with their release rate. Just looking at the impact that the program has had, these people are getting the services that they need.”

Within the last two years, Davis and her team personally visited with 650 homes within the 78207 zip code in Westside San Antonio. According to Jarl, Davis and her staff personally served nearly 1,500 individual pets with free pet food and pet care, and gave owners the training and education they needed to properly care for the animals.

Animal service organizations throughout the state have made it clear that they will miss Davis, but they are grateful for the work she has shared with them.

Davis’ work has made a real lasting change for animal service organizations throughout the state, Jarl said, adding that her commitment to the city and its residents can be seen through the department’s results.

“I’ll be joining her at a free compassion fatigue workshop for all of her staff members next week,” Jarl said. “Even after retirement, she cares about this work and helping others.”

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Top Image: Joint walks with community members, ACS, volunteers and Councilmember Shirley Gonzales (D5) to helping reduce the number of loose animals in District 5. Photo by Sean Encino.

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Stray Dogs & Cats: Why No-Kill is the Path Forward

Lea Thompson

Lea Thompson, a former reporter at the Rivard Report, is a Texas native who has lived in Houston, Austin and San Antonio. She enjoys exploring new food and culture events.