For the first time since Corpus Christi police took over Animal Care Services, the live release rate is above 80 percent.
Fares Sabawi/Caller-Times

Corpus Christi Police Capt. William Broyles has a typical police officer background, but not a typical police officer job.

Since he joined the department in 2001, he’s worked in patrol, the narcotics unit and the gang unit. But last summer, he was assigned to oversee Animal Care Services. Instead of busting bad guys, he’s tasked with making sure animals and their owners are taken care of.

“It’s a lot different,” Broyles said. “You’re not fighting crime, you’re protecting the public from dog bites and mosquitoes.”

He’s taken the change in stride, and the numbers show it, too.

In March, Broyles touted the improvements of Animal Care Services to the City Council. Under his direction, the live-release rate for cats and dogs hit 83 percent in recent months, the highest rate since police took control of the unit in 2012, when the live-release rate was below 25 percent.

“We are where we are now because of past captains, past commanders and past assistant chiefs,” Broyles said. “Now it’s just a matter of improving what we’ve got.”

In the past few years, Animal Care Services created more partnerships with rescues across the country. The unit now works with more than 200 rescues to save stray animals in the shelter.

Broyles decided to compile daily “rescue lists” to let organizations know about cats and dogs at risk of being euthanized.

“We weren’t networking the way we should have,” Broyles said. “This process allowed us to increase our live release and give these animals a second chance.”

Animals are no longer euthanized on a daily basis as they once were, Broyles said, which can be a disheartening experience.

“I think about my staff and my kennel technicians who are out there taking care of these animals,” Broyles said. “To see an animal have to be euthanized is really devastating.”

Animal Care Services also owes part of its success to support from People Assisting Animal Control, a nonprofit, Broyles said. The group pays for surgeries, heartworm treatment programs, and items to help keep pets with their owners.

“Some owners will surrender their pets … because they can’t afford the bills,” Broyles said. “PAAC uses a grant for pet retention to get owners what they need to keep the pet.”

Teaming up with Animal Care Services made sense to Cheryl Martinez, who founded PAAC. She recalls how the division struggled before the police department absorbed it.