Some clarification on our recent request to the City of Austin

by austinpetsalive • Posted in: Awareness/ PR

Since we’ve announced our request to the City of Austin to use more of the Town Lake Animal Center (TLAC) space while we search for a new building, we’ve received some questions that we’d like to answer publicly.

1. Is APA asking the city to subsidize their work in saving animals from outside Travis county using taxpayer funds?
– No, APA has never asked the City to spend one dollar on animals that come from outside the city. Although APA receives some funds from the City to operate the TLAC facility as an overflow kennel for City of Austin animals, the funds received only partially cover the costs of operating that overflow facility and do not cover any costs associated with bottle baby kittens, at-risk cats, medically ill and injured animals including puppies with parvovirus, off-site adoptions, or any other program APA has created to save lives.

2. Is APA asking the city to cover the increase of utilities’ cost at TLAC, which will be needed when they start using all of the space?  I’ve heard that could cost $14,000 per month.
– We expect the actual increase in utility costs to be much, much lower and have offered to negotiate any increase in costs to the city.

3. Is it true that APA is going to bring 4,000 animals from San Antonio to TLAC?
– This is completely false.

  • APA has contracted with the City of San Antonio to set up a San Antonio Pets Alive in San Antonio that finds homes for pets in San Antonio. That group (under the umbrella of APA for 501c3 purposes) is responsible for finding homes for the 4,000 animals. The group has already saved and rehomed hundreds of animals locally in San Antonio. There was never an agreement to bring them to Austin although when APA has empty space, some select puppies that would otherwise die have been brought to Austin. This will not continue when puppy and kitten season starts in Austin and will not decrease our impact on lives saved in Austin.
  • When Dr. Jefferson was in front of Council talking about our expanded use at TLAC, she was talking about pulling easy to adopt animals from the five county area and was very specific to name the counties – Williamson, Travis, Bastrop, Caldwell, and Hays. This is considered the Greater Austin Area by most city officials.
  • The contract with San Antonio has nothing to do with the proposal Dr. Jefferson made to the Austin Health and Human Services Committee.  In fact, the proposal made to the director of the Austin Animal Services, specifically stated that we would not bring San Antonio animals to the TLAC facility.

4. How is this changing what APA is doing?
– We’re not changing anything. We’ve been rescuing from all over central Texas for over a year, and during that entire time, Austin was at a 92% live outcome rate which is over the city wide goal of 90%.

5. We understand that no puppies, kittens, cats, small breed dogs, and friendly large dogs are dying in Austin but why is APA saving animals from the greater Austin area when dogs with behavior problems are still dying at the city shelter?

  • We estimate that about 30 dogs per month are killed at the Austin Animal Center because of behavior problems that could probably be fixed with the right resources. Those resources are expertise, space, and manpower to safely handle them while undergoing rehabilitation.
  • We have steadily increased our programs that target dogs with behavior problems that you can read about on our blog as saving these dogs is one of our top 2012 goals, just as it was in 2011. We do not pull large dogs with behavior problems from any other shelter so there is no competition from outside Austin within this group of dogs.
  • In 2009 we saved 174 large adult dogs from AAC, in 2010 we saved 343 large adult dogs from AAC, in 2011 we saved 376 large adult dogs, and so far in 2012, we have saved 134. We are steadily increasing the number we can accommodate even though we are pulling easier to handle/house/adopt animals from other counties.
  • To handle the volume increase in large dogs needing some behavior modification/rehabilitation, we would need a behaviorist on staff, a facility that is designed to not let them deteriorate (doesn’t have to be fancy- just functional), enough staff to walk them twice a day without endangering the public, as well as to provide exercise and training for at least 1-2 hours per day. This is expensive and we conservatively estimate the cost to be about $500 per animal. We are committed to saving these dogs and we will need financial help to get there. It would cost us $180,000 to just care for the dogs that we are not yet able to get out of the shelter alive.

6. Does your proposal mean that no other animal rescue groups could use the TLAC space?

-Absolutely not! We’d love to work together with other animal rescue groups in the TLAC space – there is plenty of it.

7. Why are we asking for help?

We are asking for help because we are certain No Kill is at immediate risk if we are unable to continue saving the same number of lives from Austin that we have been when we lose our building. The number of Austin lives we saved prior to having a building was much lower and the city does not have the programs in place to save the difference should our numbers decline.

8.  What has APA done so far with life-saving at the TLAC space?

– We’re so glad you asked!

In our first quarter, we adopted out 355 dogs and cats from the City of Austin and saved an additional 117 dogs compared to the same period last year.  Please see our Report Card for more details.

9. Where are the specifics of the proposal?
View our proposal to the City of Austin here.

If you have any other questions, we hope you will ask them through a comment here or you can send them to email hidden; JavaScript is required.


4 Responses to "Some clarification on our recent request to the City of Austin"

  1. George Gowensays: March 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    This material is very useful. I’ve drawn on it and on Dr. Jefferson’s Q&A email to post comments on other websites and Facebook pages over the past couple of days. For example, the local Fox outlet posted it’s story on Monday night’s meeting of the Animal Advisory Commission on its website, and this drew several comments expressing either puzzlement or outright hostility to the APA proposal. I threw a longish comment into that thread and also posted a comment on the Facebook page of Animal Trustees, answering a query from one of their commenters which he/she found helpful.
    I think it would be extremely valuable if other volunteers and APA staff would actively seek out chances to engage in such online conversations wherever possible, to spread the word and offset the evident pushback against the APA proposal. I was shocked, for example, to read in the transcript of the FOX News story that the AAC director is opposing the idea, and a counselor told me earlier today that this same official had (she heard) written a lengthy and hostile letter to the City Council. It’s hard to overstate the level of anxiety this sort of response has generated, on my part and I’m sure throughout the APA community. I’m hoping that efforts are underway to negotiate some sort of arrangement that will assuage that opposition and enable us to escape what’s coming to feel like a real trap – painful, after the gains of the past couple of years.

  2. Pam Baggettsays: March 7, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    Bottom line: I have had several dogs I’ve tried to get help for from APA and been told you don’t have room. You owe it to Austin the people who have been supporting you with donations to help us take care of the dogs here. When you’ve perfected that, then look to other towns. In the meantime, I feel lied to and cheated.

  3. austinpetsalivesays: March 8, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Sorry you feel that way, Pam. Our focus is solely on pets who are about to be euthanized, and thus, at this time, we are unable to take in pets from the public. We do, however, have a program in place to help keep these animals out of the shelter (http://www.austinpetsalive.org/get-pet-help/pass/). Additionally, if you take a look at our numbers, you’ll see that they speak for themselves. We’re still very much committed to Austin and pull from AAC multiple times every single week, including all bottle baby kittens and puppies, parvo puppies and dogs and pull for space when the shelter is overcrowded.

  4. Jody Jensensays: March 8, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Pam, if our common goal is to save animal lives, then the present lack of an ability to do that should not be the reason for withholding support. Frustration about the lack of resources to help the large dogs with behavioral problems should not deter us from helping the organization that has done the most for saving the lives of those animals. I, too, had to hear the words that there was no room to save the life of a dog that had a bite history. And it made me incredibly sad. But that also made me resolve to work harder to help APA get more resources to help they need. Please remember it is not APA who is euthanizing the dogs. That means we also need to be active citizens to help our city develop more resources for these animals.