Making Austin the largest No-Kill city in the country was not an easy road for Austin Pets Alive! (APA!), but with its “taking the bull by the horns” approach, it happened in just a few years. Now, imagine making AMERICA No-Kill?! Yes, the US-of-A a No-Kill nation!
After APA!’s huge milestone back in 2011, the organization was bombarded with emails filled with a million questions, phone calls wondering how it managed its top-notch programs and requests for tours of the facility. Grassroots communities and rescue organizations from all over the country were wanting to know how they can be like APA! and stop the unnecessary killing of companion animals. That is when APA! decided to make sharing their lifesaving programs with others a top priority, and created American Pets Alive! (AmPA!), with the goal of making America No-Kill.
The real question was how to reach millions of animal activists across the country to teach them these lifesaving programs. The solution: Host a three-day annual conference where attendees can learn directly from APA! staff and volunteers, and from experts of the national No-Kill community. AmPA! has had Dr. Ellen Jefferson, Ryan Clinton and Ron Fletcher (leaders in the No-Kill movement) attend as guest speakers to speak out on how they got started on the path to No-Kill.
The guest speakers aren’t the conference’s only notable attraction, but their various seminars throughout the three days form the backbone of the event. Attendees have the option to follow any of the following tracks:
No-Kill community, politics, capital: best practices in establishing a no-kill community
Saving all the dogs & cats: programs and networks necessary to create a no-kill environment
Nuts and bolts of the organization: best practices in running an animal welfare non-profit
Since 2011, the event has grown to host more than 300 attendees, and it has the support of major animal welfare organizations such as Maddie’s Fund and Best Friends Animal Society. In 2015, AmPA! acquired its first full-time staff member with the hiring of Margot McClelland as AmPA! Coordinator.
Margot’s previous experience as Director of Development at Palm Valley Animal Center in South Texas has made her familiar with the challenges of a small “startup” organization. She was responsible for not only fundraising, but also for the Marketing, Social Media, Foster, Volunteer and Educational Programs. Within less than a year, her hard work more than doubled Palm Valley’s following on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Adoptions doubled, while the number of foster families and volunteers tripled. Margot was also responsible for two original and wildly successful fundraising events that were then made part of Palm Valley’s yearly schedule.
This year we anticipate the 2016 AmPA! No-Kill National Conference to be the best yet. AmPA! is still in the early stages of planning for 2016 and we are currently looking for sponsors, for volunteers to help in any way possible, and for rescue organizations to attend.
We know the road to making America No-Kill will be challenging. But, one thing about both APA! and AmpA! is that they never back down from a challenge. We know there is a problem in America and it is our mission to fix it. Our efforts won’t go unnoticed and every year we know we are one step closer to creating a No-Kill nation!