As I walked through the Dog Adoption Center at Austin Pets Alive for the first time a month ago, I admit that I was nervous about what I would find when I entered the external hallways housing the organizations adoptable dogs. Nervous because the last time I visited the animal center at Town Lake Austin was still a kill city and the experience left me worried and anxious about whether or not the animals I came into contact with would still be alive the next day. I took a deep breath and walked through the bright red door.
On the other side I found a large open courtyard with several fenced in play areas, each occupied with potential adopters getting to know one of the organizations adoptable dogs. Encouraging staff and volunteers hustled from one part of the courtyard to the next tending to the needs and nourishment of the 150 (give or take) dogs housed at APA's Town Lake Center. I took my time and walked through each part of the dog adoption area- observing the color coded signage (green for walkable and red for adoption counselor assistance) and short vignettes describing each dog. I paused at the pen holding "Barbie" and read her story carefully a nine year old pit mix whose family of seven years had recently moved on without her; she had spent her first few nights in the shelter trembling. My heart broke. I put my hand to the chain linked gate fence, a small effort to ease her anxiousness. It was greeted by a cold nose that timidly sniffed at the flesh of my overturned palm. Gradually that shy initial contact gave way to tongue licks and tail wags. So many stories, so many animals looking for homes. I breathed a sigh of relief - Barbie would still be alive tomorrow. So much hope.
But, hope that needs constant tending by the community - a hope sprung from donations, volunteers, foster families and, perhaps most importantly, adopters.
Adoptions are the bread and butter of animal rescue organizations like Austin Pets Alive. The best possible outcome is to see animals find good, loving forever homes so that more animals can be rescued - and in APA's case, particularly from shelters where adoptable pets are at risk of euthanasia. In putting together the photos for this essay, I was privileged to speak with several individuals and families considering adoption from Austin Pets Alive. I met one family who had recently lost their young boxer. They weren't sure they were ready for a new pet, but they were at least ready to start looking.
I talked with one couple who were excitedly adopting an 8 week old puppy - a sibling for their 14 month old dog and their second adoption from Austin Pets Alive. I had the pleasure of photographing them as they met their puppy for the first time.
I met a single mom looking for a dog that would be able to keep up with her nine year old son.
I made the acquaintance of Max, Sasha and Katie who were excitedly waiting with APA foster parents, Monica Delgado and Chelsea Ruiz, for their mom to complete the adoption paperwork for Butterfly.
The people I spoke with had any number of reasons for adopting a pet, but the two (perhaps the obvious two) that stood out were to save a life and to be a part of something larger than one person or one animal.
With cold weather moving in, the holidays fast approaching and recent funding and inspection issues for Austin Pets Alive (for more information, see http://www.austinpetsalive.org/2012/10/austins-no-kill-status-at-risk/), the organization hopes that you'll be interested in adoption as a way to grow your family. The adoption process is informative and thorough and any one of the organization's adoption counselors will enthusiastically and empathetically guide you through the process. For APA, one adoption is one more life that can be saved and one more step to maintaining Austin's No Kill Status. If you're looking for a new pet, consider stopping by APA's Town Lake Animal Center or any one of their off site adoption locations. Counselors will work with you to find a pet that matches your needs and personality, advise you on everything from veterinary care to potty training, work with you to address any behavioral concerns that may be facing your potential companion and provide you with phone numbers to offer you assistance of all kinds.
If you're contemplating a new pet for your family, consider adoption and consider Austin Pets Alive. Save a life. Be a part of something BIG.