How Rockwall Became a Haven for Pets: Part Two

Debbie Walls adopted Sugar during one of the first adoption events using the Rockwall shelter’s new mobile adoption unit on January 28, 2012.

(ROCKWALL, TX – August 17, 2015) Let’s talk about money. I knew that would get your attention. Money is everyone’s favorite topic, right? In the last edition, we discussed the history of the Rockwall animal shelter, and how it went from a dilapidated tin shed to one of the first 50 open-admission municipal shelters in the country within four years. And how the Rockwall shelter went from saving about 48% of all the animals in its care to saving 97% of them in the span of 14 months.

After the Rockwall City Council voted unanimously in August 2011 to set a 90% minimum lifesaving goal for the shelter, the No Kill News website said, “Rockwall may just be the safest place in theUnited Statesfor a homeless cat or dog.”

Barbara Seed holds Jeannie while Tiki relaxes in her own chair during an adoption event on March 11, 2012.

So here’s where the money comes in. All those happy pets and their happy families have been a financial boon for our community. It turns out that the simple act of adopting a pet has blossomed into a new segment of our local economy, a segment that didn’t exist just five years ago. Let’s look at four basic parts that describe where that money comes from.

1. Expanded pet adoptions. That’s pretty obvious, right? Adoption fees bring in money. When we consider that the Rockwall shelter used to kill over 1,000 pets annually just seven years ago (that figure has plunged to less than 100 each year), that’s a lot of lost revenue – not to mention a lot of lost love. To be fair, the Rockwall shelter, like other municipal shelters nationwide, had no financial incentive to increase adoptions. Before the shelter was privatized in 2012, adoption fees went into the city’s general fund, so more adoptions didn’t translate into more revenue for the shelter. But more than 1,000 dead pets annually cost all of us as taxpayers. All those additional adoptions not only make us – humans and pets alike – happier, they make much better business sense.

2. More business for veterinarians. Another no-brainer. Family pets need healthcare, just like all of us. More cats and dogs in our homes translates to more clients for our local vets.

3. More business for pet stores. When we began hosting weekly adoption events at the Rockwall Petco in 2010, we were one of the first in our area to do so. Five years later,RockwallCounty has become aMecca for pet adoption events. TheRoyseCity shelter hosts regular events at Unleashed by Petco in Rowlett. Oak Hill Animal Rescue is at the Rockwall PetSmart each weekend. Rockwall Pets brings animals rescued from theDallas shelter to the Rockwall Petco and the Rockwall Farmers Market every week. And the Rockwall shelter’s mobile adoption unit can be seen around our area each weekend.

On top of all that, other shelters and rescue groups host adoption events throughoutRockwallCounty. That’s visible proof of Rockwall’s reputation as a haven for homeless pets. And that translates into additional business for our local pet stores. It’s obvious why Petco and PetSmart encourage adoptions at their stores. All those weekly events bring in customers as well as potential customers. It’s amazing to see how much the adoption events have multiplied during the past five years.

4. Out-of-town visitors. All those events have proven to be a big draw. When we were working with the Rockwall shelter and Rockwall Pets, we had adopting families drive to Rockwall from Houston,Marshall,Fort Worth and all points in between. They were drawn by our marketing – all those easily-accessible online pet listings – as well as our dependable event schedules. With families driving long distances, we discovered that they were spending quite a bit of money while they were in town. It’s the best of both worlds. Those families left Rockwall with a new pet and a lot of smiles. And they left town after doing their part to help our local economy.

Those are four basic areas that illustrate why Rockwall’s attitude toward homeless pets has benefitted all of us, whether you’re a pet lover or not. And that’s why Rockwall continues to be such a happy place. The adopting families are happy. Rockwall taxpayers are happy. And all those formerly homeless pets are the happiest of all. In my book, that’s worth much more than money in the bank.

Story and photos by Blue Ribbon News guest columnist Michael Kitkoski, co-founder of Rockwall Pets and No Kill Solutions.

Read Part One of the story here.


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