As you likely know, Austin Pets Alive!'s daily work centers around our mission to end the unnecessary killing of shelter pets, which sounds generic but in reality, is extremely difficult. It means that we purposely take pets in who are either already scheduled or soon to be scheduled to be euthanized. There’s no easy way to categorize these populations of animals as they vary. They can be like the animals we save in deep South Texas, healthy adorable pets with no space to go to like we saw during the ice storm, or the animals who have been chosen for a reason to be killed or eliminated from the population.
It's the latter group that I'll speak about here. We realized that the most measurable way to make an impact in ending the killing of shelter pets was to actually intervene at the last second before the animal was facing euthanasia, rather than pull animals into our program who were at the front end of their stay in a shelter. The reason that is important is that many rescue groups have the resources to help animals who are ready for adoption and we found a huge gap in the number of groups who can help the animals at the end of the line, especially en masse in large shelters.
We built our programs around these animals - puppies with parvovirus, bottle babies, cats with ringworm, those with Feline Leukemia, etc. Over time we have been able to expand the limits, beyond the city of Austin, of where we intervene in the deaths of these medical groups of animals. However, for big dogs with significant behavior challenges, it is much harder. We have only been able to intervene in the deaths of the behavior dogs in the city of Austin, Austin Animal Center, because of the expense, time, and difficulty in finding solutions for these dogs.
Just like with medical cases, we know we will lose some but we take them anyway and we try.
If you’d like to read more about Zydeco and the difficult situation we are in, please take time to hear from one of his closest friends and one who’s worked with him the longest, Hana Garner our Dog Behavior Training Manager. Her letter tells his story from start to finish and will offer insight into why we’ve made the decision we have.