Working Together

by Hilary Bentley • Posted in: Awareness/ PR, Behavior, Partnerships

Zane is the inspiration behind the entire Healthy Dogs, Healthy People program.  He's the very definition of an untrained, unsocialized adolescent dog.  Zaniac is now adopted but will always be loved and remembered here at APA!.

Zane is the inspiration behind the entire Healthy Dogs, Healthy People program. He's the very definition of an untrained, unsocialized adolescent dog. Zaniac is now adopted but will always be loved and remembered here at APA!.

Every weekend at the APA! trail site, dogs and volunteers from our program hang out side by side with dogs and volunteers from TLAC.  There is a running theme through our conversations about the sense of unity we feel in working together for the same goals: to get the dogs adopted and improve their quality of life while they are waiting to find their forever homes.

When we explain the Healthy Dogs, Healthy People program to members of the public wondering who we are and where the dogs are from, it always ends the same way, “Yes, this is an APA! dog and this is a TLAC dog but they’re all just great dogs looking for a home.”

The broader implication of the feelings those of us who work together at the trail site have is that we as a city need to work together to achieve the goal of making Austin no-kill.  We are a city filled with wonderful, innovate organizations like APA!, Emancipet, Animal Trustees, Blue Dog Rescue, Austin Dog Rescue, Austin Humane Society, Street Cat Rescue…and that’s just to name a handful.  We are also a city filled with wonderful, dynamic individuals.  The possibilities for collaboration and creative solutions are endless if we work from a place of mutual respect and open hearts and minds.

Some of the recent news coverage about APA!’s proposal to run the adoption program at TLAC has sounded very contentious.  That is not the spirit in which the proposal has been made or the way we want to move forward.  We’re not seeking to put anyone on the defensive.  We’re seeking positive progress.  We’re seeking to help and support in our areas of expertise and to collaborate with the public and diverse body of organizations in Austin who share the same ultimate goals that we do.  Not only is there room for everyone to help and work together, there is a NEED for it.

The Healthy Dogs, Healthy People program is an innovative solution and a collaboration that grew out of the fact that one of the highest populations on the kill list are untrained, adolescent dogs.  These are healthy, non-aggressive animals that have simply reached doggie puberty (Know what humans are like around 13-14 years old?  Yep.) and never had someone work with them.  The program at the trail site, as well as our new Behavior & Enrichment Program have been instrumental in getting this group of dogs, as well as the other dogs in our program, the exercise, training, and socialization that they need.

This is a single example of what happens when we reach out, work together, and share creative ideas.  For each single idea, there are a hundred more waiting to be implemented.  All it takes is the willingness and innovation that we know already exists in Austin.  What are we waiting for?

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6 Responses to "Working Together"

  1. Josie Fuquasays: February 16, 2010 at 9:01 am

    You are saying TLAC is doing a bad job with adoptions. That is not the way to work together. I got my dog from them, and they are great. You are creating division and are not helping. You are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
    Josie

  2. austinpetsalivesays: February 16, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Thanks for your comment, Josie. If you wouldn’t mind, it would be very helpful if you could give us more information on how you think we’re saying that TLAC is doing a bad job with adoptions. That’s really not our intention and we’d like to clear that up. For months, we’ve been trying to report how resource-strapped TLAC is and how they aren’t able to process more pets for adoption than they are currently processing, due to their budget constraints. We have proposed partnering with them, because as a nonprofit, we can actively fundraise to cover the increase in cost instead of asking City Council increase their budget dramatically when they are trying to cut budgets due to the economy.

  3. Bethsays: February 16, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Thank you for this posting! I have been concerned that some of the recent news coverage regarding APA!’s adoption program proposal will have a negative effect on APA! and TLAC relations. This doesn’t need to be a contentious issue. Without everyone’s cooperation no one wins – especially the animals.

  4. austinpetsalivesays: February 16, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Thanks Beth. It concerns us very much too. We were happy with the KVUE story on Friday. But here’s what I had to say to someone who posted a link to the KXAN story on our facebook page saturday:

    We’re so appreciative of the news highlighting Austin’s problem of euthanizing adoptable pets, but I’m not crazy about the tone of this story. We are looking to help a resource-strapped city agency, not criticize them.

    Our rescue coordinators are seeing many great pets euthanized and we think there’s a better way to deal with our homeless pets. It’s really difficult to push for change without sounding critical.

    We are focused solely on working WITH the city to find solutions to save the healthy and treatable. We regret if we said anything to give KXAN the impression of anything otherwise.

  5. Amysays: February 16, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    I am the author of this blog and it was written several weeks ago before the news coverage even started. I added the paragraph about some of the news coverage because I and the rest of APA! were bothered by it exactly because it goes against what we’re trying to do.

    The reason I wanted to write this in the first place is because I personally spend every weekend with TLAC volunteers and TLAC dogs. I do that in the capacity of an APA! volunteer and program coordinator with a program that worked very hard to create a partnership with TLAC. APA!’s president, Ellen Jefferson, got us the necessary permission and procedures in place for the TLAC dogs to be able to participate in our program and it has been going wonderfully.

    The idea for this post grew out of the conversations that I have on a regular basis with APA! and TLAC volunteers, as well as members of the public. Not only do we want to work together, we’re already doing it and, quite frankly, we’re having a great time together weekends at the trail site as are the “APA!” and “TLAC” dogs who play together while waiting for a walk or run. The spirit of the article comes from the fact that those of us volunteers explaining the program feel silly making a distinction between an APA! dog & a TLAC dog. Especially considering every APA! dog came from the kill list at TLAC. I also wanted to tie into the fact that there are a ton of other wonderful organizations and individuals in Austin working to solve the problem as well.

    It makes me very sad and frustrated to see people angry, defensive, or thinking that there is some sort of “competition” in the animal welfare community. That type of attitude only hurts the animals who are dependant on us to get it right. It’s about working together to save lives and I don’t know a single person with APA! or with TLAC who doesn’t want that.

    Amy

  6. Sallysays: February 16, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    Well said Amy!

    Just an FYI the second and third links in the piece are broken (healthy dogs healthy people, and this is a TLAC dog, this is an APA! dog), it is just a glitch in the code, the http:// is in there twice and that prevents the link from opening!