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 lawyer Jim Collins created Austin Pets Alive!, it’s mission has been to advertise and supply the sources, schooling and packages wanted to get rid of the killing of companion animals in shelters. With the intention to meet that mission, APA! began as an advocacy group devoted to creating program and coverage adjustments on the metropolis’s shelter. Right now, town was euthanizing 85% of the 35,000 animals that entered the shelter on an annual foundation. The objective was to make Austin a No Kill Metropolis by the yr 2000. During this time, the founders coordinated an efficient public consciousness marketing campaign which led to a doubling of town shelter’s price range. Moreover, the kill price was considerably lowered, each day open-adoption hours had 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 sources being allotted to alter. The city focused back on trying to “fix the community” rather than fixing the shelter which resulted in little or no change within the euthanasia price.

2008-2011: Nonetheless according to the mission and reinvigorated with new management, APA! shifted its technique to concentrate on extra direct methods to influence the Metropolis of Austin shelter’s euthanasia price, which by 2007 was at 55% with 25,000 animals getting into the shelter on an annual foundation. We had 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 pondering massive. In 2008, we pulled collectively as many like-minded individuals as we probably might and carved out a marketing strategy that will construct the infrastructure to handle the wants of the as much as 14,000 animals who had been dying every year on the metropolis shelter.


One of many first steps on this new technique was to intervene within the euthanasia course of. As is true immediately, animals got here into town shelter from many various locations for numerous causes. After pets had 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 had 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 would possibly bear in mind when the City Lake Animal Heart (TLAC) shelter was segregated between animals fortunate sufficient to have survived the final 3 days on the left and those that had been too massive, darkish, scarred, sickly or badly behaved and destined to die on the proper behind a locked gate. The general public was not allowed to even take a look at the 75% of campus that was the non-adoption aspect.


Every day, our staff obtained an inventory of animals, starting from 20-100 animals lengthy, that had been slated for euthanasia. We got two hours to attempt to transfer these animals to security by 7 p.m. or they might be lifeless by 11:30 a.m. the subsequent day.

In these two hours, day after day, one year a yr, our tough-as-nails volunteer staff labored at lightning pace. They posted on Fb and Craigslist, imploring the group to assist by fostering for a brief time frame. They texted individuals they knew that enjoyed labs or poodles to attempt to discover a spare rest room anyplace to accommodate a pet, who would possibly loosely resemble that breed, till they might make it to an adoption occasion. Daily, they made an influence on that euthanasia checklist and lower it down by 10% or as a lot as 100%. Each week, we might add up every day’s progress to determine the influence we had been making. This ultimately 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 large improve in public consciousness that these very adoptable animals had 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 essential a part of the puzzle, impacting the euthanasia price past even our direct euthanasia checklist intervention, and led to Austin becoming No Kill.

By the point our authentic license settlement to function TLAC got here round in 2011, the group had advocated closely for change on the metropolis of Austin shelter. The 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 periods. That plan included, most significantly:

  • a mandate for town shelter to succeed in a 90% reside launch price
  • a moratorium on killing whereas any cages had been empty (beforehand this apply left 50 or extra kennels open every morning for “potential” intakes)
  • a directive for town shelter to develop a foster program and habits program
  • a directive to make use of City Lake Animal Heart (about to be vacated for the brand new location in East Austin) as an adoption middle
  • an additional $1,000,000 so as to add to town shelter price range 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 previous shelter. Council Members Martinez and Morrison labored with all events concerned to stipulate the necessities of that first settlement. In the end, 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 price range was 7 million {dollars} they usually had been nonetheless euthanizing 2,000 of the pets, even with us pulling 3,000 to security. The town of Austin and APA! nonetheless had loads of lifesaving work to do to get Austin to No Kill.

March 11, 2010

2011-2019: Loads has modified on the planet of animal sheltering and positively within the Metropolis of Austin over the past decade. The town shelter gained a further 10 million {dollars} of their price range and immediately has a price range of 17 million {dollars} for a median consumption of 18,000. A lot of these thousands and thousands had been injected into town shelter’s medical program even though APA! had been, since 2011, pulling practically 100% of the medically challenged animals. Even after thousands and thousands of tax payer {dollars} went into medical take care of metropolis owned animals at Austin Animal Heart (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 had been extra like personal apply of their expense and fewer just like the triage APA! used to save lots of lives at a low value.

Actually, at that stage the animals that had been nonetheless dying (that means APA! didn’t have capability to save lots of them after they had been listed on euthanasia checklist) had been virtually solely massive breed canine with and with out behavioral challenges. Nevertheless, virtually not one of the new AAC funding was directed to assist improve fostering or adoptions of these canine. And virtually not one of the funding was directed to assist pet homeowners maintain their massive canine to stop consumption. There was a quick interval of AAC management, Tawny Hammond, Lee Ann Shenefiel and Kristen Auerbach, that attempted to place extra sources into massive canine however they had 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 massive breed canine and medical animals, and there continues to be struggles with large breed dog capacity at AAC. APA! continued to take the “leftover” animals who had been listed for euthanasia regardless 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 increasingly non-euthanasia checklist massive breed canine.


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


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

Due to the continued work of Council Member Leslie Pool’s workplace, a brand new citywide ordinance to protect a 95% minimum live release rate 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 Economic Impact Study exhibiting No Kill coverage had introduced $157M into Austin.

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

Initially of the COVID-19 pandemic, in early 2020, each shelter within the nation emptied their shelters, inserting the overwhelming majority of pets in foster properties. This gave the animal welfare trade time to consider the purpose and functions of animal shelters to begin with. APA! pivoted, as soon as once more, to concentrate on holding human animal households collectively and launched the Human Animal Help Companies (HASS) mission. We began HASS as a result of we imagine that constructing the infrastructure to serve group pets and folks might 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 had been met inside our personal metropolis of Austin with some curiosity however no motion to undertake actually fixing for why so many animals enter Austin Animal Heart yearly.

As an alternative, 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 way more than an internet site to navigate choices throughout the human crises they confronted), that town expects the general public personal partnership to proceed, for the subsequent 75 years, as easy, quiet overflow for the entire Austin Animal Heart issues.

On the similar time, the Austin Animal Heart is underneath a excessive stage of scrutiny by the Austin Animal Advisory Fee as a consequence of a memo despatched by the Austin Animal Heart director, claiming that killing of canine with behavioral histories would want to start in an effort to maintain capability at a manageable stage, 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 season 2021: As of immediately, 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, now we have made the troublesome resolution to refuse to be the “overflow” for Austin Animal Heart any longer or do the remainder of the Austin Animal Heart’s job at no cost. We have to return to a relationship that preserves lifesaving but additionally drives progress and innovation. Tragically, we’re pressured to doubtlessly vacate TLAC to realize this however in doing so, we hope Austin will regain its “prime” standing.

In the present day: We now have let town know that whereas we’re dedicated to holding Austin a No Kill Metropolis by taking in animals actually liable to euthanasia, if there may be to be any formal documented settlement with APA! to protect No Kill standing, we won’t conform to function an overflow facility to animals who usually are not liable to euthanasia. And we won’t conform to restrict the scope of our important 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 can solely occur if town council directs employees to make it occur.

Quickly, we’ll want your assist to advocate for these adjustments to our contract and to the general No Kill sustainability plan for Austin. We will’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 info lets you perceive why a lot is going on without delay relating to Austin’s No Kill standing and why there aren’t any easy selections for everybody concerned.


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

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