On February 19, Austin celebrated its sixth consecutive year of being the largest No Kill Community in the country. Hosted by Austin Pets Alive! and in cooperation with Austin Animal Center, we gathered to look back on where we started in 2008 and how far we have come as a community to make our city safer for homeless pets. From 2007 when more than 14,000 pets entering the city shelter were killed, to January 2017, when 97.3 percent of all sheltered pets animals were saved, we took a moment to recognize the people who have made and continue to make this possible.
Three awards were presented, and represent just three of the many different components that must come together to achieve and maintain No Kill status.
Senator Kirk Watson was recognized for his work at the state level to protect the ability of a shelter like Austin Pets Alive! to use common sense, low-cost treatments, as opposed to the ‘gold standard’ seen at a private practice vet. Acknowledging the changing public perception of the role of animals in our community and the resulting change in legislation that needs to reflect that, he was excited to be able help with that cause. “We are looking to make a significant change in the way we even talk about No Kill shelters, and we speak of them in terms of ‘safety net’ shelters that need to be looked at in a different way because they are saving lives,” said Watson. He credited APA! with leading the lifesaving shift.
Dr. David Allman, a board certified veterinary specialist, was recognized for taking on many of APA!’s most challenging medical cases at a greatly reduced cost to APA!, but also for his willingness to try to do ‘whatever it takes’ to help an animal that previously would have been considered untreatable. “It is truly my privilege to be a part of this,” said Allman. “I’ve learned so much that they couldn’t have taught me in the academic world. The No Kill goal forces us to think beyond what we ever thought was possible before.”
These three individuals show how work must be done at the policy level, with the hands-on treatment of the pets and working to maintain the facility. And there are many more critical pieces of the No Kill puzzle: donors, volunteers, fosters, adopters, it takes us all working together to make us all #BetterTogether. That’s a theme you’ll be seeing more of during the coming year and we want to hear your stories of how APA!, AAC, other animal rescue groups and the community as a whole are #BetterTogether.