This week I got to meet “Duke,” a 93-pound mastiff who gave me more than I could ever give him. Duke was a victim of extraordinary neglect before being dropped off at Austin’s Town Lake Animal Center by his owner, who requested that he be euthanized. Duke’s eyes were in such bad shape that he suffered excruciating pain every time he blinked; his skin so red and swollen that he has nearly no coat at all to protect him.
Yet despite everything that humans have placed upon Duke’s life, he holds not one ounce of resentment. And when Austin Pets Alive! walked him out the door at TLAC this week, he jumped right into the backseat of his new foster parent’s car, swollen eyes beaming with joy and a giant grin that could melt even the coldest of hearts.
Dogs like Duke are the reason I joined Austin Pets Alive! just over a year ago, with the goal of making Austin a “No Kill” city—a community in which every adoptable and treatable animal impounded at the shelter goes home alive. When we began this journey, we had no staff and no budget. But we did have passion, motivation, and a single-minded determination to improve the outlook for our community’s lost and homeless pets.
And we have been successful. Before we started, nearly 10,000 dogs and cats lost their lives at TLAC each year. Yet in the last twelve months alone, we’ve saved 2,000 of those. Among them, we have saved:
- 374 kittens under 8 weeks of age
- 141 adult cats (the #1 type of animal killed in Austin)
- 588 puppies under 8 weeks of age
- 108 Chihuahua or Chihuahua mixes (in the top five euthanized breeds)
- 288 were sweet pit bulls and pit mixes (#1 breed by far that is killed in Austin)
We absolutely could not have done this alone. Austin Pets Alive! overwhelmingly relies on people, like you, who open up their hearts, their homes, and their wallets to save lives like Duke’s. Without your help and others like you, the 2,000 dogs and cats we have saved would have been additional names on our shelter’s still-too-long euthanasia list.
But today’s tough economic climate isn’t just affecting people; it’s affecting our homeless pets, too. To continue our life-saving efforts at current pace, we must continue to receive donations of time, items, and money at the same pace we’ve received them so far this year. And to bring Austin to “No Kill,” we’ll need even more. So I am asking you today to dig even deeper than you already have, to volunteer even more hours, and to donate even more of your hard-earned paycheck.
In return, I guarantee you three things. First, I will continue my personal, unwavering commitment of time and resources to APA!. Second—and far more importantly—I’ll continue to let you know about dogs and cats like Duke, the second-chance pets that Austin Pets Alive! continues to rescue from TLAC at a mesmerizing pace. And third, you will know that YOU are part of the solution in Austin—you will play a major part in ending the needless killing of lost and homeless pets in Austin.
I urge you today, right now, to make any donation you can.
I thank you, in advance, and I can assure you that Duke does, too!
Dr. Ellen Jefferson, DVM
President, Austin Pets Alive!
P.P.S. Read more about Duke, and view pictures of his escape from TLAC, at http://www.austinpetsalive.org/duke.