It’s been seven months since I first gathered APA! managers to discuss COVID-19 preparedness efforts. Fifteen of us squeezed into a cramped meeting room to strategize right before the concept of social distancing emerged. We knew that nimble preparedness would be key to protecting lives – canine, feline, and human – but little did we know the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead.
Early in the life cycle of this pandemic, we could foresee that hundreds of thousands of animals would be put at risk if shelters across our region, state and country were suddenly forced to close. They would become the voiceless victims of the COVID-19 animal sheltering crisis. This disruption abruptly halts homeless pets’ way to make it out alive - adoption - and forces overcrowded and under-resourced shelters to make heartbreaking life-and-death decisions. We had to act, and we had to act quickly.
I do not believe I’m exaggerating when I say that together we are accomplishing unprecedented levels of lifesaving:
That’s a 45% increase over pre-coronavirus lifesaving rates; our highest intake rates since Hurricane Harvey. As one of the only No Kill shelters in Texas still taking in large volumes of animals, APA! is, and will continue to be, a major safety net for our city, our region and our state.
Fostering saves lives and the Austin community has truly stepped up - by May, 1,302 animals were in loving foster homes. Fostering gives pets the chance to live comfortably while awaiting their fur-ever home, and APA! can therefore remain nimble thanks to a reduced number of animals on-site. Lifesaving capacity is limitless as our “shelter” expands to the size of the foster parent network.
Through American Pets Alive! (AmPA!), the national education and outreach arm of APA!, we are ensuring that overcrowded and under-resourced shelters across the country have the solutions they need to prevent unnecessary life-and-death decisions. The AmPA! team has been working around the clock to provide support and education to the over 4,000 shelter workers asking for emergency help and advice. And once we were comfortable with our pandemic operations, we knew this was our opportunity to make an even bigger change, so we facilitated a coalition of municipal animal shelters and animal welfare leaders to rethink how we change the system for the better - by building Human Animal Support Services (HASS) in communities.
I could not be more proud of what this incredible community of APA! donors, staff, volunteers, adopters, and foster parents have accomplished in such a short period of time.
Where others see crisis, APA! sees the opportunity to do and save even more.
I know that times are tough for many, but if you’re able, I ask that you keep Austin Pets Alive! in mind for philanthropic support so that together, we can continue saving and serving the animals who depend on us.
This is lifesaving. Together we will continue saving the precious lives at risk today while creating a better future for all animals. Read more of our COVID-19 stories here.
With appreciation and resolve,
Ellen Jefferson, DVM
Executive Director, Austin Pets Alive!
With your gift, you are lifesaving: