When Austin Pets Alive! (APA!) was reborn as a rescue organization in 2008, and made Austin the largest No Kill city in America, we knew we were onto something big. What we didn’t expect was that people all over the world would want to learn about how we’re saving more than 95% of Austin’s pets, and that they’d come in droves, asking for our help saving animals in their own communities.
Today, what started as a largely volunteer-led initiative to end the euthanasia of healthy and treatable pets in one city is now an international organization helping pets and people all over the globe. Here are just a few of the ways APA! is changing the face of animal welfare and helping end needless euthanasia.
Austin Pets Alive!, funded through donations and a small number of grants, rescues the pets from the Austin city shelter who are at risk of euthanasia or death due to medical or behavioral reasons. These include orphaned puppies and kittens; pets with contagious and potentially fatal illnesses like parvovirus, distemper, and panleukemia; animals who have suffered neglect or other traumatic experiences and need a safe place for rehabilitation; senior and geriatric cats and dogs with chronic medical conditions; and all other pets who need an emergency lifeline. We also save thousands of animals from surrounding counties and other parts of Texas each year, relying on massive foster, volunteer, and donor support. Our motto is ‘Helping people, help pets,’ and we’ve saved more than 100,000 animals over the past decade.
We also manage the APA! Positive Alternatives to Shelter Surrender program (APA! P.A.S.S.), a state-wide support network for pet owners facing barriers to keeping their pets. With more than 12,000 followers, the P.A.S.S. program responds to about 1,000 requests for help each month and is able to keep most pets in homes, deferring thousands of pets from shelter intake each year.
American Pets Alive! (AmPA!) is the national arm of APA!, and focuses on helping shelters implement our best practices in order to achieve No Kill in their own communities. Our team of experts travel the U.S. to shelters with high euthanasia rates and lack of funding to provide consultation, hands-on training, and recommendations. In 2021 alone, AmPA! has provided support to more than 150 shelters across the United States. For organizations in crisis who need transport assistance, AmPA! assists with transport planning, partnering organizations with receiving partners, and even transporting some pets through Austin. We use data-driven programs, practices, and tools to help communities save lives faster. The AmPA! best practice resources are accessible on our website for any shelter to implement lifesaving programs today. AmPA! also publishes frequent blogs and produces topic-specific webinars, all designed to teach shelters how to save more lives in their own communities.
Human Animal Support Services (HASS) is APA!’s most recent endeavor - a first-of-its kind, international collaborative of animal shelters and animal welfare professionals who believe we can and must do better for pets and people. With more than 1,000 professionals, 22 pilot shelters, 500 partner organizations, and individuals from 50 U.S. states and five nationals involved, HASS aims to transform animal services, supporting and protecting the bond between pets and people. The HASS elements are the building blocks for this change and dozens of HASS working groups are tackling the tough problems that cause pets to enter shelters in the first place. Historically, APA! has been focused on achieving live outcomes for pets who have already entered the system, but with HASS, our attention is focused on reducing shelter intake, serving more pets in their communities, and helping families stay together.
International Work. APA! provides guidance and support to animal welfare organizations around the world. Based on the enormous success of our American Pets Alive! Shelter and Rescue Support group, we have started two international social media groups. The first is focused on connecting people to resources about treatment and care of pets with distemper and the second aims to connect animal welfare professionals to share ideas, get help, and find professional support. In addition to online support, we frequently present at international conferences and seminars, and host visitors from other nations to tour APA! and participate in our learning opportunities. HASS has also established an international ambassador program to highlight individuals that are leading the movement in other countries.