Yesterday, the City of Austin announced that they chose Don Bland to be the next Chief Animal Services Officer. As you know, this is a hiring process that we have been critical of and that we believe highlighted some gaps in the way our city is planning to sustain No Kill. Obviously, Don is not responsible for that and needs to be given the opportunity to succeed here. Today, we fully commit to doing everything we can to make Don and Austin Animal Center (AAC) successful.
We left our recent conversations with city leadership believing that there is not enough awareness or knowledge at the higher government levels to ensure that our No Kill status, under any new Chief Animal Services Officer, will succeed and improve. While this is somewhat understandable considering how complex the shelter system is when saving this number of lives, we suggest a multi-prong approach moving forward to address two key gaps:
We believe that whenever we voice concerns, solutions must also be brought forward. We think that APA! can be most helpful in the following ways:
Oversight occurs when individuals pay attention. When oversight is used to oversee the issues at hand, we can catch potential problems as they arise, and ensure that nothing currently being done will cause problems later. As tax paying citizens, we all have a right to expect oversight. We know that the city council wants our city to be No Kill. Austin Pets Alive! is committed to No Kill, transparency, and working with the city to implement the measurements needed to hold ourselves accountable to the standards we’ve set together for No Kill in Austin. There are current problems, there have been past problems, and there will be future problems. Oversight is the only way to prevent the replaying of old major problems over and over so we can progress to our potential.
Right now, we ask that you email City Council and ask for council-directed policy to oversee the performance metrics that lead to 95% live outcome. This will create the sustainability that is needed for Austinites now and for the next generation of No Kill advocates.
We are at an important juncture in Austin’s No Kill journey, and in this moment, we can make it or break it. We know that 11 years into making Austin No Kill, we can’t have the same battles year after year getting SOPs back in place to reflect the animals’ and No Kill’s needs. We have a lot to be proud of and we truly believe that we can sustain our successes, and build upon them, to save even more lives together.
Ellen Jefferson, DVM