APA! has been an important driver of No Kill in Austin and, even though we are 11 years into that journey and have accomplished so much, there is still critical work that needs to be done. Right now, we need your help to implore our city government to document how No Kill works in Austin so that it is protected. The only intent of this code amendment is to document what is currently, or very recently has been, the internal processes of the city.
Much like our beautiful springs, if we lose No Kill in Austin, we will likely never get it back. Our No Kill sustainability is so fragile, as demonstrated by recent events. This is worth the time to fight for and we can’t do it alone.
Next week, on October 17th at 10 a.m, the Council will hear Item 25, the ordinance that will, for the first time ever, codify some of the most basic measurements and policies that culminate in our city being the largest No Kill City in the country. You can see the City Council Agenda and back up documents here*.
Just like last month, it is essential that we show a strong community support for this by as many of us as possible emailing and calling Council offices, registering in support at City Hall, and showing up for the meeting on the 17th. You can sign up here to keep getting more info from APA! on talking points, instructions for registering, and being present. No need to sign up again if you already did for the last council meeting or since.
Here is the basic information: Item 25: Approve an ordinance amending City Code Title 3 and City Code Section 2-1-102 relating to: (a) impounded animal regulations - adding definitions, requiring core immunizations, mandating sterilization, addressing fee waivers, requiring notice to rescue organizations and revising reporting requirements; and (b) expanding advisory scope of the Animal Advisory Commission, respectively.
Sponsors: Council Member Leslie Pool, Council Member Ann Kitchen, Mayor Steve Adler, Council Member Kathie Tovo.
I’ll reiterate that this is so important because we have had turnover of nearly all leadership in Austin between animal protection and City Council. The Animal Services Department has zero checks and balances in place to ensure that new leadership understands and protects how we reach and maintain No Kill so we can keep achieving the astounding numbers that we have achieved so far. This amendment documents and solidifies some of the critical practices that have been largely personality driven in the past so that they become part of the regular business operations of our city shelter. These are specifically called out in the item description, but I’ll tell you why they are so important:
Please help us this one last time to make sure that how we do No Kill now is transparent and sustainable here in Austin.
We know that there will be opposition to codifying the way we are achieving No Kill now because there are some who want changes made to 1. the Shelter-Neuter-Return program for cats and 2. Rescue access for the dogs who have caused great harm. We understand their concerns and also want this to be the beginning of dialogue to make improvements to the processes that save lives (improvements have been made every year but often not publicly).
However, right now, the most important step this council can take to ensure long term sustainability is approve this item. It will create immediate stability and allow a much greater transparency on government processes and performance measures which will, in turn, ensure that the public is able to lobby for vital improvements.
Don’t forget to sign up here!
And please thank Council Member Leslie Pool, Ann Kitchen, Kathie Tovo, and Mayor Adler for spearheading this item! They took our concerns seriously and have turned them into important and meaningful action.
*The backup documents will be updated after the Animal Advisory Commission meeting on Monday, Oct 14th. That meeting occurs at 6 PM at City Hall (across the hall from city council chambers where we were last month). They will be reviewing amendments from the various council offices (the “in utero” language and other unobjectionable changes) and then once they approve a newer version, that will go back to Council for the vote on the 17th. Please use the form from above if you can join me at that as well and we will send instructions.
With gratitude and eyes on the future,
Dr. Ellen Jefferson, Executive Director of Austin Pets Alive!