Cory Stottlemyer believes cats and dogs aren’t just pets, they’re family. This compassionate Houston native is on a mission to make sure those family members get the care and respect they deserve.
“From their everyday needs to preparing for an emergency, pets deserve your commitment to be cared for throughout their entire lives,” he says.
Stottlemyer is the public-information officer (PIO) for the City of Houston’s Animal Shelter and Adoption Facility, also known as BARC. The organization’s mission is to promote and protect public health and animal care through sheltering, pet placement programs, pet ownership education, and animal law enforcement.
“In addition to providing shelter and veterinary care to all animals brought to the shelter, we work diligently to find homes for these animals,” Stottlemyer notes. “We collaborate and coordinate with our Houston pet-rescue groups and through communications networks to cast the widest possible adoption net. BARC is also committed to promoting responsible pet ownership, and helps Houstonians with microchipping, routine vaccinations, spaying and neutering in the community through mobile trailers, and other services.”
Stottlemyer has always had a passion for helping worthy causes through better public awareness, and he found his work in communications was a great way to help both public and private groups. “That eventually led to an interest in journalism. After working as a local reporter for a few years, I transitioned into government media relations and then became a public-information officer. Between marketing essential City services and sharing emergency public information, communications is a crucial part of any government operation. Houstonians have a right to know what is happening in their city, and the services being offered.”
It wasn’t until four years ago that Stottlemyer found a way to combine his love of animals with his communications background.
“I jumped at the opportunity to work at BARC as their PIO last summer, since I’ve had pets all my life and have worked closely with rescue groups in the past,” he says. “While in the Office of Emergency Management in 2018, I was able to partner with the BARC team to develop creative content promoting pet preparedness.”
Currently, his job is to raise public awareness about BARC’s services through creative campaigns and programs. People may not realize that BARC can also help pet owners with the initial adoption process. They even offer vaccinations at their low-cost wellness center.
Having two dogs and a cat with his husband, Stottlemyer can attest to how much work goes into caring for an animal. “Pets are not a passive part of your life. They require foresight and planning. Once you know how to take care of a pet, however, you will find that they add a ton of excitement and unconditional love to your life.”
Because of the economic hardships caused by the pandemic, many people forgot about the ongoing needs of animals and the importance of adoption. Thankfully, BARC has been able to keep pets in the public eye over the last two years.
“It has been inspiring to see how much our network of rescues, volunteers, and fosters has been able to help us maintain our level of services to help Houston’s pet population during the pandemic,” Stottlemyer says. “Especially during puppy and kitten season, we had fosters show up who were willing to take on the demands of fostering abandoned infant kittens and puppies—often involving bottle feedings every two hours. We’re also grateful to Mayor Sylvester Turner, who provided BARC with federal CARES funding to host pet pantries and supply giveaways to Houstonians impacted by the pandemic.”
Going forward, Sottlemyer will continue to work with BARC to improve the lives of pets throughout the city, as well as educating the public on new pet laws.
“BARC was thrilled in January when the City Council unanimously approved updates to Chapter 6 of the City’s Code of Ordinances, relating to animal welfare,” he says. “One of the changes was introducing mandatory microchipping for all owned pets inside City limits—which replaces the existing license tags for owned pets. Microchipping animals makes it easier to return lost pets to their owners. Animal enforcement officers can reunite lost pets with their owners in the field, bypassing the need to bring them to the shelter for intake and care. The ordinance changes are currently in effect, so BARC is committed to a campaign throughout 2022 to education the public on the new requirement.”
For more info, visit houstonbarc.com.
This article appears in the March 2022 edition of OutSmart magazine.