Austin Pets Alive! | Way forward for APA!: Serving the Metropolis of Austin:…

Sep 02, 2021

This week, we’re going again by time to showcase the historical past of No Kill in Austin and our public-private partnership with the Metropolis of Austin.

1998-2001: From the start when native legal professional Jim Collins created Austin Pets Alive!, it’s mission has been to advertise and supply the assets, training and applications wanted to get rid of the killing of companion animals in shelters. With a purpose to meet that mission, APA! began as an advocacy group devoted to creating program and coverage modifications on the metropolis’s shelter. At the moment, town was euthanizing 85% of the 35,000 animals that entered the shelter on an annual foundation. The purpose was to make Austin a No Kill Metropolis by the yr 2000. Throughout this time, the founders coordinated an efficient public consciousness marketing campaign which led to a doubling of town shelter’s finances. Moreover, the kill fee was considerably lowered, every day open-adoption hours have been launched, and a volunteer program was created. Regardless of all of this, No Kill was not reached throughout this time.

Jim Collins created Austin Pets Alive! article, 1998

2002-2007: Progress was at a standstill in stopping pointless killing largely as a consequence of insufficient metropolis assets being allotted to alter. Town centered again on attempting to “repair the group” relatively than fixing the shelter which resulted in little or no change within the euthanasia fee.

2008-2011: Nonetheless consistent with the mission and reinvigorated with new management, APA! shifted its technique to give attention to extra direct methods to influence the Metropolis of Austin shelter’s euthanasia fee, which by 2007 was at 55% with 25,000 animals coming into the shelter on an annual foundation. We have been nonetheless an all volunteer group with lower than $10,000 within the financial institution and no facility, however that didn’t cease us from considering huge. In 2008, we pulled collectively as many like-minded individuals as we presumably may and carved out a marketing strategy that may construct the infrastructure to handle the wants of the as much as 14,000 animals who have been dying annually on the metropolis shelter.


One of many first steps on this new technique was to intervene within the euthanasia course of. As is true as we speak, animals got here into town shelter from many various locations for numerous causes. After pets have been taken in, animals surrendered by their homeowners moved instantly both to the adoption portion of the shelter, to a rescue group (non APA!), or to a euthanasia checklist. Stray pets have been held for 3 days earlier than the choice was made to euthanize them or try to undertake or switch them to rescue. Long run Austinites may bear in mind when the City Lake Animal Middle (TLAC) shelter was segregated between animals fortunate sufficient to have survived the final 3 days on the left and those that have been too huge, darkish, scarred, sickly or badly behaved and destined to die on the best behind a locked gate. The general public was not allowed to even have a look at the 75% of campus that was the non-adoption facet.


Every day, our workforce acquired a listing of animals, starting from 20-100 animals lengthy, that have been slated for euthanasia. We got two hours to attempt to transfer these animals to security by 7 p.m. or they might be useless by 11:30 a.m. the following day.

In these two hours, day after day, 12 months a yr, our tough-as-nails volunteer workforce labored at lightning pace. They posted on Fb and Craigslist, imploring the group to assist by fostering for a brief time period. They texted individuals they knew that enjoyed labs or poodles to attempt to discover a spare rest room wherever to deal with a pet, who may loosely resemble that breed, till they may make it to an adoption occasion. Each day, they made an influence on that euthanasia checklist and minimize it down by 10% or as a lot as 100%. Each week, we may add up every day’s progress to determine the influence we have been making. This finally translated right into a yearly influence metric.

As APA!’s technique was to intervene within the deaths of the animals on the final minute, the byproduct was the massive enhance in public consciousness that these very adoptable animals have been dying. The attention led to public outcry and metropolis council motion (similar to what occurred in 1999). That turned out to be an extremely necessary a part of the puzzle, impacting the euthanasia fee past even our direct euthanasia checklist intervention, and led to Austin turning into No Kill.

By the point our unique license settlement to function TLAC got here round in 2011, the group had advocated closely for change on the metropolis of Austin shelter. Town council handed a 2010 No Kill Implementation Plan, beneficial to them by the Austin Animal Advisory Fee after an intense yr of public enter and technique classes. That plan included, most significantly:

  • a mandate for town shelter to succeed in a 90% reside launch fee
  • a moratorium on killing whereas any cages have been empty (beforehand this observe left 50 or extra kennels open every morning for “doable” intakes)
  • a directive for town shelter to develop a foster program and habits program
  • a directive to make use of City Lake Animal Middle (about to be vacated for the brand new location in East Austin) as an adoption heart
  • an additional $1,000,000 so as to add to town shelter finances to assist implement these objectives

When town shelter moved from TLAC to east Austin, we needed to work tirelessly to realize the flexibility to make use of the outdated shelter. Council Members Martinez and Morrison labored with all events concerned to stipulate the necessities of that first settlement. Finally, APA! agreed to proceed taking 3,000 animals from the euthanasia checklist on the metropolis shelter yearly, when town’s consumption was 19,000, town’s finances was 7 million {dollars} and so they have been nonetheless euthanizing 2,000 of the pets, even with us pulling 3,000 to security. Town of Austin and APA! nonetheless had numerous lifesaving work to do to get Austin to No Kill.

March 11, 2010

2011-2019: Rather a lot has modified on the earth of animal sheltering and definitely within the Metropolis of Austin over the past decade. Town shelter gained a further 10 million {dollars} of their finances and as we speak has a finances of 17 million {dollars} for a median consumption of 18,000. A lot of these thousands and thousands have been injected into town shelter’s medical program even if APA! had been, since 2011, pulling almost 100% of the medically challenged animals. Even after thousands and thousands of tax payer {dollars} went into medical look after metropolis owned animals at Austin Animal Middle (AAC), there have been nonetheless 1,500+ animals with medical wants listed for euthanasia, down from 3,000+, as a result of the medical practices that AAC employed have been extra like personal observe of their expense and fewer just like the triage APA! used to save lots of lives at a low price.

The truth is, at that stage the animals that have been nonetheless dying (that means APA! didn’t have capability to save lots of them after they have been listed on euthanasia checklist) have been virtually fully giant breed canines with and with out behavioral challenges. Nonetheless, virtually not one of the new AAC funding was directed to assist enhance fostering or adoptions of these canines. And virtually not one of the funding was directed to assist pet homeowners hold their huge canines to forestall consumption. There was a quick interval of AAC management, Tawny Hammond, Lee Ann Shenefiel and Kristen Auerbach, that attempted to place extra assets into giant canines however they have been met with resistance. Due to general insufficient oversight of the very beneficiant new funding directed by council to “make Austin No Kill”, there continued, and continues, to be a euthanasia checklist with giant breed canines and medical animals, and there continues to be struggles with giant breed canine capability at AAC. APA! continued to take the “leftover” animals who have been listed for euthanasia despite the fact that no authorities funding got here to APA! for the care of pets from town shelter. As AAC administration tried to beat overcrowding, they leaned on APA! to take an increasing number of non-euthanasia checklist giant breed canines.


Even with all of those partnership points, APA! began a habits program directed at saving the canines with difficult histories of trauma to forestall their euthanasia at AAC except there was a extreme, demonstrated public security danger. As per our mission, we didn’t give attention to attempting to alleviate house points for AAC however after all tried to assist.


When AAC reached a 95% reside launch fee, and because of the continuous turnover of management at AAC which left AAC susceptible to shifting backwards to killing, we centered on constructing institutional sustainability for No Kill in Austin. No Kill remains to be very a lot depending on town animal providers director’s private philosophy as a result of there’s little or no all through metropolis authorities to institutionalize it.

Because of the continued work of Council Member Leslie Pool’s workplace, a brand new citywide ordinance to protect a 95% minimal reside launch fee and an up to date animal code went into impact. As well as, we documented memorandums of understanding (MOU)s to protect inside practices between AAC and APA! that we hoped would cement No Kill practices in Austin. Austin’s No Kill standing was additional buoyed by the 2017 Financial Influence Research displaying No Kill coverage had introduced $157M into Austin.

2019-2021: Since 2019, town has maintained a continuing reside launch fee at or above 95%, in accordance with the ordinance. With the most important finances, per capita and per animal, of any authorities animal shelter within the nation, AAC has acquired the monetary assist to realize this degree of lifesaving. Sadly, regardless of all of this progress, coverage modifications, and traditionally excessive finances, town has shifted its expectation of sustaining capability for non-euthanasia checklist animals to realize No Kill to APA! with no oversight of current taxpayer fund utilization or monetary funding in APA!. That is far exterior the scope of the unique licensing settlement, signed at a time when 2,000+ animals have been nonetheless dying and town’s finances was extraordinarily insufficient for lifesaving. We’re happy with our position in making Austin No Kill and advocating for applicable AAC funding however we now have no management or oversight of these funds as a totally personal entity. Our worry of dropping the usage of TLAC has exacerbated that lack of ability to advocate for change previously.

In the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, in early 2020, each shelter within the nation emptied their shelters, putting the overwhelming majority of pets in foster properties. This gave the animal welfare trade time to consider the goal and capabilities of animal shelters to start with. APA! pivoted, as soon as once more, to give attention to conserving human animal households collectively and launched the Human Animal Help Companies (HASS) undertaking. We began HASS as a result of we imagine that constructing the infrastructure to serve group pets and other people may dramatically decrease the variety of pets needing to be institutionalized within the shelter. As APA! and our nationwide arm, American Pets Alive!, labored to implement HASS in most main U.S. cities, we have been met inside our personal metropolis of Austin with some curiosity however no motion to undertake really fixing for why so many animals enter Austin Animal Middle yearly.

As a substitute, we, at APA!, have been made painfully conscious by a number of crises (the 2021 chilly disaster when town shelter shut down and deferred the general public to APA! for assist or throughout the first yr of the COVID-19 pandemic when town shelter simply stopped all assist to group members who wanted rather more than a web site to navigate choices throughout the human crises they confronted), that town expects the general public personal partnership to proceed, for the following 75 years, as easy, quiet overflow for the entire Austin Animal Middle issues.

On the similar time, the Austin Animal Middle is underneath a excessive degree of scrutiny by the Austin Animal Advisory Fee as a consequence of a memo despatched by the Austin Animal Middle director, claiming that killing of canines with behavioral histories would wish to start with a purpose to hold capability at a manageable degree, regardless of a traditionally low consumption of animals. That is unacceptable and we hope town will use the suggestions from the fee to make lasting change in how the middle is managed.

Summer time 2021: As of as we speak, the world is quickly evolving and different cities are passing Austin by as essentially the most progressive for animal welfare. Disheartened by town’s lack of curiosity in progressing past a No Kill quantity to construct a really humane group and compounded by the state, and now accepted future, of our facility, we now have made the troublesome resolution to refuse to be the “overflow” for Austin Animal Middle any longer or do the remainder of the Austin Animal Middle’s job totally free. We have to return to a relationship that preserves lifesaving but additionally drives progress and innovation. Tragically, we’re pressured to probably vacate TLAC to realize this however in doing so, we hope Austin will regain its “high” standing.

At this time: Now we have let town know that whereas we’re dedicated to conserving Austin a No Kill Metropolis by taking in animals really liable to euthanasia, if there’s to be any formal documented settlement with APA! to protect No Kill standing, we is not going to conform to function an overflow facility to animals who should not liable to euthanasia. And we is not going to conform to restrict the scope of our necessary and lifesaving work to make the whole thing of Texas – and nation – No Kill. It’s nonetheless our hope, although now considerably distant, to have an settlement with town that permits TLAC to proceed as a beacon of hope on this new part of Austin’s animal historical past. It’s clear that may solely occur if town council directs employees to make it occur.

Quickly, we’ll want your assist to advocate for these modifications to our contract and to the general No Kill sustainability plan for Austin. We are able to’t do that with out our supporters now, simply as we couldn’t have created this group with out you from the beginning. I hope this data lets you perceive why a lot is going on without delay concerning Austin’s No Kill standing and why there are not any easy choices for everybody concerned.


Ellen Jefferson, DVM
President and CEO
Austin Pets Alive!/American Pets Alive!

Learn the earlier posts on this collection right here.

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