Yesterday morning, just like every other morning all summer and fall, Austin Pets Alive received an email stating that the new Austin Animal Center was over 30 animals over capacity and they needed our help. This is in addition to the pleas that come in all day asking APA to take in the injured, ill, puppies with parvo, and neonatal kittens. Everyday, APA responds and helps ease the burden.
But things are changing.The Texas State Department of Health did a surprise inspection of the Town Lake Animal Center last week. The intent was unclear as the facility is no longer used as a state rabies quarantine facility. The inspector issued a probation notice (see full report) to Austin Pets Alive and the City of Austin stating that all of the kennels must be resurfaced by October of 2013 or the facility needs to be abandoned. This comes in stark contrast to previous inspections that cite old but functional kennels, as recently as this summer (TLAC Inspection 072412).
Austin became a No Kill city in 2011 and is the largest city in the country to accomplish a 90% save rate. This monumental success has been largely the result of Austin Pets Alive's grassroots efforts to save more pets from the city's euthanasia list since 2008.
Austin Pets Alive recently entered an agreement with the city of Austin, in exchange for moving its headquarters to Town Lake Animal Center, to save at least 3,000 animals per year. This year, the first year of the contract, Austin Pets Alive has saved over 4,000 since January 1st, outperforming the contract requirements by 30%. "When the city needs our help, we respond. We have given everything to preserving our 90% community save rate," says Ellen Jefferson, APA Executive Director.
In November, the city of Austin will take away funding for the organization's rescue services, which is another blow to the nonprofit organization. For the last 12 months, the city has been funding the care of 480 additional animals at Austin Pets Alive in an effort to keep up with the massive number of animals that the city has seen come in this year. This is only 1/10 of the number of animals that APA saved from the city in the first 10 months of the year.
The inspection and the inadequate (and now complete lack of) funding are two obstacles that put the city's 90% save rate at immediate risk.
Dr. Ellen Jefferson, APA's Executive Director, says "We are a grass roots organization that is 100% reliant on the community to help us keep Austin No Kill. The city's funding is critical to our much larger than anticipated operations and without it, our ability to help the city keep up with the number of animals needing their lives saved, will diminish by as much as 30%. While this will not jeopardize the contract between APA and the city, it could be devastating to our status as a No Kill city. We are taking in more animals every day, that desperately need us. There has not been a day all summer and fall where our services were not needed to save a saveable life. We have the expertise to care for them but we can't responsibly take on these animals without funding. If we are not able to save those 1,000-1,500 extra lives over and above the 3,000 we can save within our budget, we fear that the city will only be at about an 80% save rate."
"The timing of the inspection could not be worse. We have done everything we can to help the city and much more. We have taken in more animals this year from the city than ever before as a partner to the city. We have depleted all reserve funds to help the city. And we do that because we feel that the burden of saving these lives is as much our responsibility as it is the city's. But without any help from the city financially and without an influx of community funds, our hands become increasingly tied to just meet the minimum contracted number of lives saved that allows us to stay in this facility, at least for now."
"The city funded the care of 1/10th of the animals that Austin Pets Alive has saved from the city since January. APA is respectfully asking the city for funding to care for an additional 1,500 animals per year so that there are no lapses in Austin's coveted 90% status. APA is not asking the city to fund its existing operations but to fund the intake of additional animals over and above the 3,000 it is already committed to save on its own dime. A contract to provide care for 1500 additional animals will cost $450,000. We believe that when Austin Pets Alive is raising private community funds to save over 3,000 animals from the city, asking the city to fund 1/3 of the total care for city animals is very reasonable. In comparison, the city contracts with nonprofit organizations such as Emancipet for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Austin Pets Alive provides a valuable service to the city, and believes that the lives of these additional animals is worth the city funding to save them".
We are asking our supporters to do 1 of 2 things quickly:
2. Email or call city council and ask for an emergency continuation and increase of funding to Austin Pets Alive to keep saving more and more lives this year, starting right now. Here is the link to email all of the city council at once http://www.austintexas.gov/mail/all-council-members
Time is of the essence to prevent a lapse in No Kill. Austin Pets Alive has everything needed to save the lives of these pets that we have been asked to save. We can find the adoptive homes, our veterinarians can fix the injuries and illnesses, and we will save their lives. All we need are donations and an investment from the city.