Last week, we shared news about the Human Animal Support Services project (HASS). HASS, a project is that, among other things, aims to create programming to better serve people and pets in many ways, much like social services for humans. We’ve seen some instances of lost pets being turned away at the municipal shelter and finders being recommended to turn those pets loose. This is NOT what we recommend and not part of our HASS guidance. One of the many goals of HASS is to help people who find stray pets quickly, in order to get those pets home safe and sound with the people who love them. This does ask community members — through partnerships and community programs already created by the HASS partner — to foster found pets if they’re able, but if they’re not, the city shelter should be stepping in. Ultimately, this goal comes down to keeping pets out of kennels if we can help it, so they never have to know what it’s like to be without a home. While the City of Austin has so far declined to participate in this project, through our educational and outreach division, American Pets Alive!, we are working with 30 municipal shelters across the country as well as 31 working groups specifically organized to solve difficult challenges and to better communicate with the public. That way, we can expand community resources right here in Austin, too. Click here to read more about HASS, and to view a Myths versus Facts infographic on the project.
We are aware of social media posts by a few concerned Austin Animal Center (AAC) volunteers and a media story about the intake of animals to the city shelter which allege APA! and AAC “began a campaign to make closed intake permanent.” This information is inaccurate and these communications unfortunately do not provide enough information or context around our ideas for reimagining animal services to better support our community of pets and people through community-based solutions to animal sheltering and pet ownership. While we cannot speak for the City of Austin or Austin Animal Center, we have worked our entire organizational career to save lives and this initiative will have metrics associated with it to ensure that lifesaving does not decrease. This model aims to provide a much more robust list of options for pets in need and offer more equitable services to their human families. There will not be a decrease in service, simply a change. Please click here for an overview video and blog post from APA! Executive Director Dr. Ellen Jefferson, as well as fact checking on the Human Animal Support Services (HASS) project through our national division, American Pets Alive!.