The City of Laredo and Laredo Animal Care Services (LACS) partnered with Austin Pets Alive! (APA!) in February 2023 as a result of the city’s desire to meet the Laredo community’s need for shelter improvement. Due to limited resources, LACS has historically faced challenges in implementing veterinary best practices, struggling to save half of the 8,000 pets that come into its shelter. Recognizing that a change was needed, LACS contracted with APA! to provide veterinary care services and updated shelter operations.
APA! has been helping LACS with rescue transport since 2020 and partnered with LACS during Winter Storm Uri, which led to this bigger partnership. In May 2023, after working with LACS over many months, APA! built a set of customized recommendations and an implementation plan to establish Laredo as a leader in animal sheltering throughout South Texas. LACS has been presented with its first opportunity to accept resources, in the form of time and money, from a transformational organization to help save more animal lives. APA!’s objective is to help fill the gap in necessary training and support, at the request and with the cooperation of LACS, to help people and their pets in Laredo.
APA!’s implementation plan includes shelter best practices such as support at intake,Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) program, lost pet reunification, and placement programs. A people focused intake model, which includes an appointment-based intake of animals in non-emergency situations into the animal services facility, is a modern practice that prioritizes sick or injured pets, animals in immediate danger, or dogs that pose a threat to public safety. Organized intake frees up shelter resources to ensure emergencies and critical situations are handled promptly and effectively.
PROGRESS IN SAVING LIVES
APA!’s vet and national shelter support teams have made significant progress at LACS:
Since March, APA! doubled spay and neuters with over 1,000 animals, and in 2023 since the start of the contract, we have brought the feline live outcome rate to over 65%. APA! is responsible for over 1,500 live outcomes in 2023 through rescue transport.
Implemented treatment protocols to ensure every sick, treatable animal receives medication and vaccines, health certificates, and more to increase the number of pets saved.
Performed an elevated level of medical attention for shelter animals, including leg amputations, mass removals, surgeries, and more to save the pet's life. Previously animals requiring this care would have been automatically euthanized.
Furthermore, APA! designed free custom staff training, over 30 standard operating procedures, and an implementation plan for LACS based on best practices that include:
Intake Counseling and Triage - To help provide treatment and care to the animals in need, providing consent-based resources for pets that may not need to come to the shelter, and reducing euthanasia rates.
Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) program - To ensure stray cats aren’t euthanized upon intake at alarming rates.
Lost Pet Reunification - To ensure that at least the national standard number of lost pets make it back to their families.
Placement Programs- Rescue/Transport, Adoption, Case Management, Foster, Volunteer - To help reduce the number of pets at the shelter by promoting adoptions, fostering, and working with rescue partners.
The implementation of these programs and procedures is fundamental to the success of the contract between Austin Pets Alive! and Laredo Animal Care Services to increase adoptions and provide community guidance to better support the people and pets of Laredo. APA! is also providing additional resources such as:
5 Full-time employees (4 directly operations focused and local to Laredo and 1 focused on marketing and communication)
National Field Services in-person training
Online course module with in-person guidance and assessment for free
Weekly transport van and driver dedicated to picking up Laredo animals and taking in-state partners.
Out of state transport van and driver assistance are dedicated to Laredo animals.
$90K pet food donation for the community via HSUS/Chewy secured by APA!.
Adoption incentive grant of $3,000 for gift bags for adopters.
Handouts, flyers, resources, and posters - printed for the front lobby, and for staff to hand out to the community to help people with their pets.
APA!’s implementation plan, introduced in May 2023, includes shelter best practices such as support at intake, Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) program, lost pet reunification, and placement programs.
To be successful, Laredo Animal Care Services needs to implement these changes immediately and take the community’s and animals’ needs into consideration.
When APA!’s team first arrived at LACS, they encountered dire conditions, including an extremely high rate of disease in pets–predominately parvovirus; overcrowding, unsanitary kennels; inadequate water and food supplies; and unattended injured animals in urgent need of medical care.
Upon arrival, APA! quickly identified and implemented immediate solutions to solve these harsh conditions and continued to work with the LACS team to implement additional medical and treatment protocols. These actions have already contributed to saving the lives of several hundred pets that most certainly would have died without intervention due to lack of medical care and euthanasia. Our goal is to increase lifesaving and provide better support to the Laredo community, people and pets.