WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas -- Texas Humane Heroes in Williamson County is celebrating a milestone. Six years ago, the animal shelter dedicated itself as no-kill. It didn't come easy.
“We're a private organization, and we don't receive any government funding,” said executive director at Texas Humane Heroes Ron Marullo. “All of what we do is through the donations and generosity of the community that supports us.”
Their hard work through the years is paying off.
“We've increased adoptions by 151 percent,” said Marullo.
Marullo said more than 10,000 animals have been adopted out of the shelter in the past six years. So far this year, more than 3,000 have been adopted.
Marullo said one of the keys to their success are the open spaces they developed that allow people to meet the animals and get to know them outside of the kennels.
“It's a very positive experience. The one expression we hear from everyone is, 'Oh, I want to take them all home.' Well, know that any animal here is safe,” said Marullo.
It also helps fuel adoptions, which has a ripple effect.
“Anyone who's a hero and adopts an animal is really saving two lives -- the animal they're adopting and the freed up kennel space that they're allowing,” said Marullo.
The shelter keeps tabs on other centers in Central Texas.
“Over 95 percent of the animals we take in come from those municipal shelters. Every week, we send out our intake personnel, and we go to those shelters and pull those animals and save their lives,” said Marullo.
In the years since Texas Humane Heroes went no-kill, other shelters in the area have taken similar steps. In 2010, the City of Austin passed a no-kill plan. Since then the euthanasia rate in Austin has dropped from 27 percent in 2010 to 11 percent in 2011, and just five percent last year.
Marullo says it's a team effort to save one cat and one dog at a time.