Over the past couple of days, we’ve been overjoyed to see Blackie, a dog saved by a “fospice” home, featured in multiple, national news outlets, including ABC News, The Huffington Post, The Dodo and Fox & Friends. His story has captured the hearts of millions of people around the globe. Blackie’s is the tale of how an utterly hopeless situation can be turned into a beautiful, inspiring one, with the help of just a few selfless people who wanted to give him love at the end of his life.
As we reflect on how his story has been portrayed in the national news, there are two key points I believe are important to share.
We know that Blackie was an outdoor dog his entire life, who, for whatever reason did not receive medical care. We also know he was brought to the Austin Animal Center because his owners felt he was nearing the end of his life and knew they could not give him the medical care he would need. They did the best thing they knew to do which was to bring him to the shelter. It is with sadness we’ve seen the media describe Blackie as being ‘dumped’ or ‘abandoned.’ These words were certainly never used by Austin Animal Center or by Austin Pets Alive!. We’re proud to live in a city where people feel safe to bring their family pets, regardless of the circumstances, because they trust us to treat their pets with the utmost respect and humane kindness, regardless of the circumstances of the surrender. We appreciate that Blackie’s family brought him somewhere he could receive help, and as it turns out, a second lease on life.
The partnership between Austin Pets Alive! and Austin Animal Center is what saved Blackie’s life. Austin Pets Alive!’s programs are here to provide a way back into life for animals like Blackie, the ones that are deemed too old, too sick, too young, or too hyper to survive a traditional shelter. Blackie illustrates that each one of them is an individual -worthy of a comfortable home and a person to care for them until their natural dying day. Even if that is tomorrow.
As crazy as it sounds, most traditional shelters would not have allowed an organization like APA! or a foster parent to take Blackie home because they would have deemed him “too sick” to be “humanely” released. But now Austin is a place where every animal that can survive, does survive. There is no longer a question of “if” an animal will get a second chance.
For so long we have identified “No Kill” with the measurement of a 90 percent save rate. Tragically, that meant that many healthy animals were still dying. 2016 is going to be different. It is going to be the year that Austin sees true No Kill, where not only the 90 percent threshold is met every month but also the philosophical definition of No Kill, where no pet that is not truly dangerous nor truly at the end of their life will be killed.
Blackie’s story has many invaluable lessons to offer us, not the least of which is the importance of showing the same compassion to the people in our community as we do the animals. I am thrilled to be starting off 2016 celebrating this little dog with a heart of gold, kind eyes and a spirit that will carry us forward to do better by our people and animals, to work in partnership to save more animals than ever before.