Friends for Life is a relative newcomer among Houston’s animal shelters. But the nonprofit group made a statement with the recent opening of its $1.4 million Don Sanders Adoption Center, which promotes a no-kill philosophy.
The environmentally correct center in the Heights is a dream come true for executive director Salise Shuttlesworth, who has been pushing the no-kill shelter concept in Houston for 10 years. The center was primarily paid for by community leader and philanthropist Don Sanders. His wife, Chris Sanders, is one of Friends of Life’s dedicated volunteers.
Changing the way shelters operate and how people treat animals will be the major social movement of this generation, Shuttlesworth said.
The shelter’s missions include taking in cats and dogs rejected by other private shelters, serving as a community resource for pet owners and reminding people to visit shelters when they decide to add pets to their families.
“Seventy-five percent of the animals adopted through our program fall into the unadoptable categories in other area programs,” Shuttlesworth said. “We recently adopted out a 7-year-old black cat who was leukemia positive and missing half of both back legs … For him it was life or death because he had been turned away as unadoptable at two other shelters.”
The staff also has found homes for 15-year-old dogs, legions of pit bulls and a cat that has trouble walking, she said.
“If the big shelters are telling people at their doors that a pit bull is unadoptable, a dog with mange has to die and so does a cat with a broken leg or a 1-pound kitten, we are here to say, ‘No, that’s wrong.’ It is an incomplete answer. They are actually adoptable, and we can prove it,” Shuttlesworth said.