American Humane Society shelter possibly coming to Lyford

LYFORD — The city appears closer to having an American Humane Society shelter.

City commissioners will hold a workshop to consider leasing five acres to the Harlingen Humane Society, City Secretary Lydia Moreno said yesterday.

“I’m really optimistic,” said Pat Turman-White, president of the Harlingen Humane Society.

But Moreno said many questions remain before officials allow the Humane Society to build the shelter aimed at curbing Willacy County’s high numbers of stray dogs and cats.

Officials will request the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality determine whether the Humane Society can build on the site next to the sewer plant because the area might have been used as a landfill.

Turman-White said she needs to raise $100,000 to build the facility to hold 50 kennels while also serving as a cat sanctuary.

So far, the organization has raised $20,000, she said.

Turman-White said the shelter would hold stray dogs for three days to give their owners a chance to claim them.

If dogs are not claimed within that period, they would be taken to the Harlingen animal shelter, where they would be spayed or neutered and put up for adoption. Sick dogs would be euthanized.

The Humane Society would fund the operations, Turman-White said.

For decades, the county’s population of stray dogs and cats has been “out of control,” said George Solis, Precinct 2’s justice of the peace.

Solis warned of the threat of a rabies outbreak.

“If you drive anywhere in this county, there are animals running loose,” Solis said.

Turman-White said the proposed shelter would help curb that problem.

“It’s a bandaide on a bleeding aorta,” she said. “The people want help. Nothing can get fixed overnight but we’re on the right road.”

Figures show two dogs’ offspring can multiply into 67,000 within seven years, she said, and two cats can multiply into 420,000 within six years.

“We can cut down on the breeding,” Turman-White said.

So far this year, Turman-White has worked with Solis to trap 130 stray cats in Raymondville and 104 cats in Port Mansfield.

Turman-White takes the cats to Harlingen’s animal shelter, where they are spayed or neutered — or euthanized if they test positive for leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus, or FIV.