Woman holding two dogs for transport

Working with Lubbock city leadership candidates to improve pet lifesaving outcomes

Best Friends Animal Society is working with more than 3,600 shelters and rescue groups nationwide to save the lives of homeless pets. Besides running many lifesaving programs and initiatives, we provide resources and training to compassionate leaders who want to create an even safer country for dogs and cats.

While we’ve made incredible progress over the years together, hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats are still killed in shelters every year simply because they don’t have safe places to call home — many of them right here in Texas. In fact, more pets are killed in Texas shelters than in any other state in the country. That’s why Texans are in search of leaders willing to take action to save the lives of homeless pets by providing resources and collaborative efforts.

The next elected mayor of Lubbock, Texas, has an excellent opportunity to continue to grow lifesaving and help remove barriers to making Lubbock safer for homeless pets. Recently, Best Friends sent each of the mayoral candidates a survey to gain insight into each one’s local knowledge and priorities in animal welfare. The survey consisted of six questions on various animal-related topics, such as support for animal control, policies and laws to allow necessary programs; position on trap-neuter-return programs; and the transparency of shelters.


For more information on the candidates or voting in the Lubbock mayoral election, please visit  votelubbock.org

Best Friends reached out to all Lubbock mayoral candidates and the following candidates responded to the survey: 
Stephen Sanders 
Gulrez ("Gus") Khan 
Adam Hernandez 
E. Major Garza 

The following candidate did not respond to the survey: 
Tray Payne 

Orange tabby cat lying in a knitted bed with black cat behind him

You can review each responding candidate’s remarks below.

Three candidates (Hernandez, Khan, and Sanders) also participated in a virtual town hall on May 4.

Watch the Lubbock mayoral candidate town hall

Do you support allowing animal control facilities and shelters in Lubbock to implement the programs that they deem necessary to save all healthy and treatable homeless dogs and cats? Please explain your position.

Sanders: Yes 
Khan: Yes 
Hernandez: Yes 
Garza: Yes 


Would you support instituting policies/laws and the interpretation of current policies/laws to allow for the implementation of the necessary programs by animal control facilities and shelters that will save all healthy and treatable homeless dogs and cats? Please explain your position.

Sanders: Yes, I would. I have a dog I rescued from the Lubbock shelter; he was just a baby, 30 days old, and he is now five months old and happy as can be. Why did I say that? Because I believe that our Lubbock Animal Shelter who are in the business of saving and making the quality of life better for the Lubbock animal community too. To me, life is life, and I don't have the right to take it, and I don't want us to do that in Lubbock. I want to become a no-kill zone officially! 

Khan: Yes. We need to protect our dogs and cats and make a conducive environment for them. 

Hernandez: Yes. If we are able to, we should opt to save animals. 

Garza: I would support “instituting policies/laws and the interpretation of current policies/laws to allow for the implementation of the necessary programs by animal control facilities and shelters that will save all healthy and treatable homeless dogs and cats.” Again, everything costs something that may increase over time. We can and should do better to include making sure the population understands their responsibilities to their pets so they don’t become a hardship for others. 

Please describe your position on trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNVR) programs by animal control facilities and shelters to humanely reduce the free-roaming stray cat population.

Sanders: It's a great idea, and the reason I believe it's a great idea is because it addresses the issue directly in a mannerable way.

Khan: Will discuss once we meet up.

Hernandez: I think this is a great way to keep stray populations down in a humane way.

Garza: I have not seen the estimated cost on trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNVR) programs and what this cost would actually create as a means of reducing the problem of more animals on the streets. I would need more information so I could be more informed on actual metrics. I am sure other cities have done this with varying results. 

Do you agree that animal shelters should publicly share all inspection, intake and disposition data for the purpose of better lifesaving strategic planning and community engagement? Please explain your position.

Sanders: I believe that all government entities should be 100 percent transparent, and the animal services are no different. This also helps us directly know if they are killing animals illegally or unlawfully.

Khan: Yes

Hernandez: Yes. I will always be in favor of transparency and analyzing all of the data surrounding any issue when it comes to city services.

Garza: Ultimately the function of any government entity is to work for the people who own it. Again, the taxpayers fund these government agencies and we should be glad of the generosity because many programs are funded. Let’s be upfront about the results which seems to be that some costly animals are euthanized as a more humane thing. I can’t speak to this because I don’t know how many animals are said to be “un-adoptable.” So let’s call this transparency, and I would tell you that if some data isn’t being provided, it’s probably embarrassing and it might enrage the citizens. 

Please describe what you believe are the top three priorities of the animal shelter and field services in Lubbock.

Sanders: To protect citizens from animals that they are unfamiliar with. Serve the community by helping people by helping their animals. Educate the citizens on how to be responsible pet owners.

Khan: Public sharing of inspection in animal shelters, provide shelter to stray dogs and cats, create boards and commissions to study and analyze our dogs and cats issues.

Hernandez: Controlling stray populations is a priority for many communities in Lubbock. Some areas are worse than others, but it is a city-wide issue.

Garza: The people that provide us with their generosity through their hard-earned money, in the form of taxation, should be satisfied with their purchase. That would be my one metric, not three. We have to understand that the people can solve this problem but the costs can’t be overwhelming to those in Lubbock. For example, some people can’t afford to feed their families because of current events. What happens if more people release their pets into the community because they can’t afford to feed their pets. I know of this issue because I bought two dogs from a family that couldn’t feed them or themselves. 

Many cities across the country, and in Texas, provide funding for spay/neuter services, for the shelter and residents, in the city budget. Would you support city-funded support for spay/neuter procedures for dogs and cats in the city? Please explain.

Sanders: Yes, I believe it's case by case, but we should always be ready to respond to the needs of our citizens within our means.

Khan: Would like to discuss at length during our meeting.

Hernandez: Yes. Any time we can take a small step that will improve city services, we should do it.

Garza: The Lubbock citizens ultimately pay the bills that the city incurs. When the budget is discussed, all the essential services come first and should have priority. The facts remain that every department wants to be fully funded so that they can perform their duties effectively. Your organization would fight hard for the programs you support, as would other organizations to try to fight for funding. In the end, we must all understand of the competing interests for funding. The question for me would be “Would I fight harder for pets?” My answer is that if elected mayor, I want to govern as a person who respects the concerns of those represented here in Lubbock. We can’t disparage the people who expect certain actions by our city.