Presidians work together to bring dogs out of the cold, but problems at shelter remain 

PRESIDIO — When the cold snap came to Presidio the week before Christmas, locals prepared for the winter weather by wrapping pipes and dripping faucets. Sergio Carrasco of the Presidio Animal Shelter had his own set of worries: his facility is open to the elements and the dogs under his care could potentially be exposed to below-freezing temperatures. 

Jeran Stephens of the Presidio Municipal Development District (PMDD) took to social media, calling on community members to donate blankets, dog beds and other materials to help keep the animals warm and safe. Donations quickly poured into the PMDD offices and City Hall. “This community rocks!” Stephens wrote on Instagram.

It was a touching moment of community teamwork — but ultimately a Band-Aid on the larger, structural problems at the shelter. Last spring, city leadership made a push to install a mini-split that would help keep the animals safe from soaring summer temperatures, but that project was never completed. “They’ve been keeping it on the backburner,” Carrasco said. 

The shelter is set up with parallel dog runs that open to the outside so that the animals can let themselves in and out when Carrasco isn’t on the premises. He’s figured out a few stop-gap measures to give the animals freedom while insulating the inside of the shelter from the elements, but he doesn’t have the money to make any of them permanent. 

Carrasco has spent years making do with the materials he has, but he’s a one-man show. This year, with some help from Heather Hall, Jeran Stephens and Malynda Richardson, Carrasco got his first Christmas off in the seven years he’s been working for the city. 

Despite the brief reprieve, he saw an uptick in shelter surrenders after the holiday weekend — several local dogs had litters of puppies, and some people decided that they didn’t want the pets that had been gifted to them. “Getting a pet is a lifetime commitment,” Carrasco said. “It’s not like, ‘I’m gonna try them out for a few months and see how it goes.’”

Carrasco stressed that changing the local culture around pet ownership was the number one thing that Presidians can do to help the shelter. The shelter chronically hovers around maximum capacity, and frequently takes in animals from outside city limits, where rules are even more lax. “[People] don’t think a lot about getting their dogs vaccinated and spayed and stuff, which is causing a lot of the problems I see.” 

Presidians can attend the next round of free spay and neuter clinics on Saturday, January 21 and Sunday, January 22. No walk-ins will be seen, so folks interested in the clinic should call 432-837-2532 to make an appointment. A suggested donation of $75 is appreciated for the spay or neuter surgery and vaccines, but the clinic is free of charge to anyone who can’t afford the fees. Microchips are available for an additional $10.