Zero is the kind of young, handsome, playful dog who is quickly adopted in most shelters. He has a smile that’ll make YOU smile, too.
But all throughout Texas, dogs considered “highly adoptable” elsewhere in the country, end up on under-resourced shelters’ euthanasia lists — all the time, and all the more so in a tremendously challenging year like this one. And that’s what happened to Zero.
Our team first met Zero during a site visit at his shelter in late August — we were there to vaccinate pets and find other ways to aid in the shelter’s lifesaving. This big dog was heartworm positive, but energetic and magnetically happy. When we returned to the shelter in November, Zero was still there — but wouldn’t be for long. The shelter needed kennel space, and Zero was on the euthanasia list. He’d been given just one hour left to live.
With no time to waste, our team sprung to action, reaching out to our rescue partners to see if anyone had the capacity to take him in — and a trusted partner in Chicago quickly said yes. But they couldn’t take Zero right away. So Zero came to Austin, and relaxed in an Austin Pets Alive! foster home for two weeks before we drove him north to safety, in a van with 22 other pets.
We always need more fosters to temporarily take in pets like Zero who are awaiting their lifesaving freedom rides. Some transport pets need a foster for two weeks — others for as little as 24 hours. Get in touch at [email protected] to learn more!
Before getting on the van, our Transport Team Manager Zoe Beriss told Zero where he was going, and what was going on. “I always give them reassuring words when they load up,” Zoe says. “I know they might not be able to understand me, but I try to let them know that they're safe and they're on their way to their new homes.“
Zero is one of over 2,500 pets whose lives were saved thanks to our Transport Program in 2023 — up 100 pets over 2022. He’s one of 6,000 pets we’ve saved since founding our program in 2021. We’ve been able to save these precious lives thanks to our APA! family’s support — we’ve been able to save them, thanks to you.
Here are some of our other 2023 accomplishments we are so proud to share with you, our partner in lifesaving:
This year, we celebrate a milestone that is very close to my heart — the 15th anniversary of Austin Pets Alive!'s Parvo Puppy ICU, the first initiative of its kind in the country. The story of the Parvo Puppy ICU began with a simple, yet radical idea: to turn a bathtub into a lifesaving station for puppies afflicted with parvovirus. It evolved into a revolutionary program, saving over 1,000 puppies annually. This initiative is not only transforming the fate of countless puppies in Central Texas but has also inspired shelters nationwide to adopt our lifesaving protocols. Reflecting on these 15 years, I'm filled with gratitude for the support and belief in our mission. Your continued support empowers us to redefine what's possible in animal rescue and save more lives each day.
In 2023, Austin Pets Alive! proudly guided nearly 12,000 animals through our shelter, contributing to a grand total of 120,000 lives saved since our beginning. Our impact extends beyond our shelter walls, as we've provided crucial support to under-resourced shelters, shared lifesaving knowledge through our No Kill education initiative, and strengthened the bond between people and pets with our Human Animal Support Services project. Each effort is a testament to our commitment to saving the most at-risk animals and keeping families together.
We launched a new program to train the next generation of animal welfare leaders. Austin Pets Alive! is one of the very first animal shelters anywhere to have social workers on staff. Our groundbreaking social work program is making the work of animal welfare more sustainable — this year, expanding the focus on staff wellness with increased trainings on compassion fatigue, crisis response, grief and loss, de-escalation, and other critical topics. In 2023, we also launched our brand new Pet Pals program, a paid internship through which at-risk teens learn the ins and outs of shelter management, and gain the necessary skills and experience to work in animal sheltering. We’re so proud that three classes of Pet Pals interns have now participated in this important program, in its very first year!
Here’s a record-breaking accomplishment: This year, we found loving homes for 36 incredible incontinent cats, shattering misconceptions about their care. Our team has worked tirelessly to dispel the myth that incontinent cats aren’t adoptable. We've shown that every cat is unique, and with the right routine and support, they can thrive in a loving home. Our dedication to caring for the most at-risk populations, like incontinent cats, is unwavering. We're excited to continue this journey, saving even more cats and dogs with the help of our amazing supporters. Here's to many more successful adoptions of wonderful and deserving animals! (gif of cat that walks on two legs with caption: Baby Cheeks is a super special incontinent kitty! An injury paralyzed her hind limbs, and she developed wounds from dragging them around. Life's been easier for this lovebug after getting her back legs removed, and she carries herself to cuddles on her front limbs!
We set the stage to deepen and expand our footprint in Austin! APA!’s mission is to save pets everywhere — but our home is and always will be in Austin, and in 2023 we set down even deeper roots. Six years in the making, we have a brand new agreement with the City of Austin that allows us to keep operating out of our Town Lake Animal Center for at least the next 25 years. This agreement grants us two additional 25-year extensions, so we have the potential to operate out of TLAC in some form for up to 75 years. The agreement allows us to rebuild on the TLAC property, a massive project we’ll undertake over the next 3-5 years. We’re also moving forward with plans to move large chunks of our operations, like the medical center and behavioral center, off the property. These developments mean we can do even more lifesaving work together — and we are beyond thrilled to be on our way to APA! 2.0. Stay tuned for more exciting details in 2024!
Zero was adopted just a few weeks after arriving in Chicago. In his adoption photo, the only smile bigger than Zero’s is his new dad’s.
These big smiles are thanks to you. At the holidays, and always, we are so grateful to every single APA! supporter who makes stories like Zero’s possible.
Thank you from me and everyone at APA! for believing that every pet deserves the very same chance at a happily ever after — and for standing by our side while we work to achieve exactly that.
Ellen Jefferson, DVM
President and CEO, Austin Pets Alive!
P.S. Your gift is DOUBLED if you donate today, up to $65,000. Don’t wait to make your year-end gift and have it matched for pets like Zero and Baby Cheeks!