If you’ve followed along with our communications about all our activities this year at APA!, you’ve probably heard words like “pivot” and “unprecedented” a lot. While this year was incredibly trying for so many all over the world, the silver lining to 2020 has been the incredible history that has been made. Because of you, more animals than ever before have been saved from unnecessary euthanasia, more animals than ever have lived in foster homes instead of kennels, more shelters than ever have connected collaboratively to plan the future of lifesaving and protecting the human-animal bond in communities everywhere. You showed, once again, that we are resilient and relentless in our mission.
In January, APA! leadership will be sharing our full 2020 impact numbers and highlights, but as you celebrate the holidays (if you celebrate them, and however you can this year) we want to wish you and your loved ones well, and thank you for your continued role in saving animal lives. We are at another important turning point in animal welfare. With you leading the change, we have pioneered so many programs and prevented so many needless deaths of shelter animals in Austin and beyond. And now we can take it a step further and make more systemic change for communities.
We have been fueled by the need still out there, made only more evident by the tribulations of 2020. While so many lifesaving goals have been achieved in recent years for animals, thanks to your loyal support, the system for homeless pets still isn’t fully aligned with the expectations of community members. We believe the time has come to utilize what we’ve learned and make this time a transition to the next phase of animal lifesaving, so I am energized by our new strategic focus areas just outlined by our Board of Directors.
In the new year, we will be focusing as an organization on 1) sustainable growth - strengthening our leadership, our support of staff and volunteers, our fundraising as we rebuild our physical footprint, our retention of best practices and our mission to be more inclusive; 2) making Austin THE model - No Kill happened in Austin because we intervened in every single death at the city animal shelter and made programs to help with the common reasons causing shelter animal death decisions. We now need to turn our eyes towards how we can intervene in every animal being brought in to the city shelter, preventing unnecessary separation of pets from people and preventing the harm that going through any institution can cause to an animal's psyche. We know the shelter will always be needed but we can do so much better by focusing both ends of the pipeline--prevention and lifesaving; and 3) reimagining animal services - unified with our long-time partners and hundreds of new Human Animal Support Services (HASS) coalition members, we will advocate for major government funded animal services policy changes, in and out of Austin, and solve problems that have inhibited progress for decades.
We have big plans, and it will take a lot of support, but it will mean potentially cementing a better animal support services foundation here in Austin, and everywhere else, that will exist beyond our lifetimes. We’ll be calling on everyone in the APA! community to help rethink how we do what we do for the better.
In 2020, we have had incredible support that we couldn’t have expected and we are so grateful. However, we are still short of our December goal for donations to support the work we need to kick off on January 1, 2021. If you are still in a position to help financially this year, please click here to make a gift because, thanks to generous anonymous donors, it will be tripled if you give today, or matched (doubled) up to $30,000 tomorrow through December 31st. Every bit helps exponentially if given before the year ends.
Thank you for everything you do for animals. Happy holidays and happy new year!
Ellen Jefferson, DVM
Executive Director, Austin Pets Alive!