It's been over a decade since we started the APA! Positive Alternatives to Shelter Surrender Program (PASS). We began this initiative because we recognized that Austin pet owners were often faced with the terrible choice to give up their pets due to housing issues, life crises, pet medical problems the owner couldn’t afford to treat, and other human problems. The vast majority of these caregivers loved their pets like family, but their only choice at the time was to surrender the pet to the Austin city shelter.
That’s when we created the PASS Facebook group, a safe space for pet caretakers to get resources and support to help them keep their pets, or in some cases, safely rehome their pet to another loving home without that animal having to enter the shelter system. PASS helps people temporarily board their pet, find a short-term foster placement, raise funds for medical care, and more. Today, PASS has 12,000 members and serves thousands of pets and people every year. Though many APA! supporters are not even aware PASS exists, it is among the most impactful programs in the APA! family of lifesaving services.
Last month, APA! hired our first-ever PASS Coordinator. Until this point, PASS has been operated solely with volunteer support, managed by one PASS Manager, Patty Alexander. In this unprecedented time, more people than ever are facing financial challenges and other hardships that, without our help, will result in the separation of human/animal families and we recognize that saving shelter pets has to be augmented with helping people not create more pets in shelters.
The community-centered philosophy behind PASS has helped create the national Human Animal Support Services (HASS) movement, a collaborative project facilitated by our education and outreach division, American Pets Alive! (AmPA!).
This week, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association highlighted our work in a feature story entitled, “Animal shelters, control officers, aim to be more community-centric.”
This is the second large, national publication to highlight HASS, the first being Fast Company's September then title article about this big nationwide initiative.
With the international reach of AmPA!, we are now able to help hundreds of other animal welfare organizations around the United States and beyond implement safety net and pet support programs similar to the PASS initiatives that work to keep families together. Please take a moment to read this story and we’d love to hear from you if you have been impacted by the PASS program, either as a Good Samaritan or someone who has received help and support from this community pet help program!