Being an APA Angel

by Hilary Bentley • Posted in: Rescue

I am an active volunteer with Austin Pets Alive! and my main role currently is to represent the animals on our website.  This consists of posting pictures and bios, some that I write and some that others write, onto our website (which recently got a fabulous makeover).  We are always looking for ways to get our dogs and cats adopted faster, as this means we can pull more off of the euthanasia list and families get their new best friend faster.  My team utilizes online resources such as craigslist to reach new potential adopters.

I have walked the euthanasia list with our euthanasia walkers before, as I wanted to see how our group works at the core of our mission.  I most recently attended this daily ritual as I wanted to get information for the bios as soon as possible, versus waiting for feedback from the foster parents or adoption counselors.

The summer has been a brutal time to be an animal at the shelter, as the number of animals there is dramatically higher and we are pulling as many of them as we can.  We would love to save every animal, though we pull those animals who have the greatest chances of being adopted as this allows us to save more overall. We look to have a variety of breeds, sizes, colors, etc. in our program as we’ve found this allows us to make the biggest impact.

My first trip to the shelter as an APA Angel (the title we are considering for this role) uncovered another function in our overall mission beyond gathering information for the animals we pull. I watched the euth walker as she assessed each of the dogs on the list. There were two dogs, who we ended up naming Bailey and Oakley, who were terrific dogs, though who we couldn’t pull with our current resources, foster list and the attributes of the dogs we currently had in the program. Both were rather shy at the shelter, walking with their tails tucked between their legs, though neither showed any aggression during the assessment and they passed the basic behavior tests. I think I’d be scared too, with all of the barking dogs and air of uncertainty. So, in addition to adding the bios for the dogs we were able to pull, I posted to craigslist begging for foster homes and potential adopters so that these dogs would make it out of the shelter alive.

bailey-11We ended up finding two new foster families, a brother and sister at that, who took in these two dogs. Oakley got adopted rather quickly and Bailey was recently adopted by her foster parents! Austin Pets Alive! is truly a team effort and these dogs would not have made it out alive without all of the people working behind the scenes. This includes the euth walkers, the foster families, the foster coordinator, those who answer the adopt emails and voicemails, the adoption counselors, the adoption site volunteers…the list goes on and on…

oakley-1My dream would be to have a team of APA Angels such that we have people at the shelter daily, one for dogs and cats, walking the list with our euth walkers. I am no behavior expert and don’t plan to become one, though I’m able to take notes and post to craigslist so that we can get as many animals out as we can. The euth walkers have a very short time frame to accomplish a lot, so the APA Angel is more of an observer and note taker. The euth walkers’ job is stressful and often they take on posting to craigslist to get out as many animals as possible. I’d like to help them out with this as they already do so much.

If you are interested in volunteering in this role, please visit our website and fill out a volunteer application. It truly is a rewarding experience and stories such as this one are what keep me going!

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