Volunteers and Supporters:
As most of you know, we will be losing our 2807 Manchaca headquarters in just a few months and are searching for a permanent home. In the meantime, we have asked the city for permission to move all of our current operations to the Town Lake Animal Center (TLAC) space. APA! already has an arrangement with the city to run an overflow adoption center for the the Austin Animal Center (AAC) at TLAC. Currently, only animals from AAC are housed at TLAC, but in our ask to move our entire operations to the facility, we have also asked for permission to include animals from other sources that will definitely die if we do not help them.
You can watch our specific proposal here. If you go to Item 3, Part 1, you can hear my comments at the 11:30 mark of part 1. Some of our volunteers and supporters also made comments.
We want to clarify that our work with other counties does not offset the work we do here in Austin, nor does it displace animals. The reason we know that is because we have already been performing that widespread work for the last 14 months and Austin is at a 92 percent save rate for all of 2011. Austin is APA!’s priority – we are so proud of the hard work we and the city have done to bring us to a 92 percent save rate, making Austin the largest city in the nation to be considered no-kill. However, our work is not done. While 92 percent of animals are being saved in Austin, perfectly healthy, extremely adoptable dogs and cats are still dying in outlying communities. And with the current resources in Austin set up as they are, we have the opportunity to help save some of these animals.
Here is a brief overview of where Austin currently stands:
Before APA! started in 2007, the city was at a 50% save rate and 14,000 animals were dying per year. At the time, animals being euthanized consisted of:
- Easy to adopt animals- nothing wrong with them- just need more time and better exposure- 10%
- Minor issues but otherwise easy to adopt or rehome- ringworm puppies, 7 week old animals, shy, 10%
- Bottle baby kittens and puppies- 1,200 per year- too young to survive without bottle feeding – 10%
- Critically ill/injured animals (includes parvo) – 10%
- Behaviorally challenged large breed adult dogs 5%
APA! has built innovative programs (including a bottle baby nursery, an intensive parvo ward and a medical ward) and we are saving 100 percent of the first four categories above. It is the fifth category – behaviorally challenged large breed adult dogs – that is still a struggle for both us and for AAC. At this point in time, we are currently taking 50 percent of the dogs in this category and are working to expand our behavior program to enable us to take more of these dogs in the future. There are currently no cats, kittens, puppies, small breed dogs, or friendly large dogs in the city of Austin being euthanized due to lack of space. And there have not been for the last 12 months. That is because APA! has saved these animals as soon as they were in danger.
For the large dogs with behavior problems, it is our hope that the city will soon be hiring a behaviorist, as outlined in the No-Kill Implementation Plan that passed in March 2010, to help the dogs that need extra help making it out of the shelter. We feel that with the city-staffed behaviorist and our own growing behavior program, we will reach a point in the next few years where all saveable animals are being saved in Austin. That will be over 90 percent.
We understand that citizens are concerned about animals from the five county area coming into Austin,but it is important to also understand that APA! operates adoption cites outside of Travis County and draws adopters from outside the county to our in-county adoption sites. So while we are pulling animals from other counties, we’re also adopting them out to other counties. In fact, over the last four years, 1,200 more animals were adopted into homes outside the city limits than were brought into the city.
The work we do with other counties and shelters does not affect our work in Austin. Our innovative programs to save neonatal kittens, puppies with parvo, cats with ringworm, and medically injured/ill animals from AAC will stay in place, but we need a facility from which to continue to perform our lifesaving work.
While we have our sights set high in hopes of creating a no-kill Central Texas, and ultimately, a no-kill state, our work in Austin will never end or diminish.
Other reasons using the TLAC facility makes sense:
- The structure is currently 75% vacant
- There is no additional cost to the city if APA utilizes this vacant space to save lives
- It is the only option that will guarantee that APA! can continue saving the bottle babies, parvo puppies, and other critical animals from AAC and help keep Austin at its 90%+ goal
- The city has no back up plan or alternative that will save the animals APA! can’t save if we have no home, which means the City of Austin will revert to a 81% save rate
- There are already many city-subsidized organizations that help animals outside the city limits including Austin Humane Society and EmanciPET
- Allowing animals literally within a stone’s throw of Austin to die is morally unacceptable when there is an abundance of resources available to help them.
We urge you to use this link to email all of Austin City Council to ask them to please allow APA! to move our existing operations into Town Lake Animal Center so that the city of Austin can maintain a 92% save rate. You can also join us at a special Animal Advisory Commission meeting to vote on this issue next Monday, March 5, at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Austin Energy Building Assembly Room, 1st Floor.
Don’t let a few naysayers cause Austin to lose its status as the largest no-kill city in the United States. Please, let your voice be heard!
Dr. Ellen Jefferson
Executive Director, Austin Pets Alive!
For more information: