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Posts Tagged ‘No Kill’

Hooray Austin! No Kill Achieved in 2011

DaisyPress release from Austin Animal Services:

City of Austin


Release Date: Jan. 06, 2012
Contact: Patricia Fraga     512-974-2969

City of Austin achieves No-Kill City status for 2011

Austin Animal Center reported today a 91 percent live animal outcome rate for 2011 making the City of Austin officially a No-Kill City.Since February 2011, the City shelter and its rescue partners have consistently saved the lives of at least 90 percent or more of the animals entering the shelter.  This allowed the City to average more than that live outcome benchmark for the entire year, making it the first major urban city in Texas to do so. (View the full 2011 Live Animal Outcome report, 78 KB PDF.)The City’s work to achieve this goal began in March 2010 with the implementation of the City Council approved No-Kill Plan which was developed to reduce animal intake and increase live animal outcomes.

“Despite the busy mating season, an extreme summer, a major disaster in Bastrop County which brought an influx of lost pets into the city, and a major move to a new Animal Center we were able to stay on course to save as many animals lives as possible,” Chief Animal Services Officer Abigail Smith said.  “This is a true testament to the entire community’s compassion for the lost, abandoned, sick and injured animals that end up in the shelter system.”

Throughout 2011, the center saw an increase in adoptions, foster homes, volunteers and spay /neuter surgeries which all contributed to making this community no-kill.


(Photo credit: signalchao on stock.xchng)


Green Gala! Join Friends of Town Lake Animal Center and more on October 22

Green Gala, October 22, 2011Friends of Town Lake Animal Center (full disclosure: I’m on the board) will host the Green Gala on October 22, 2011 at the animal shelter’s new location in east Austin. Tickets are on sale now, so go buy some. I’ll wait……

Come enjoy local food and drink and music from The Hot Club of Cowtown.

Seriously, go buy tickets!

The shelter will be moving from its current location on Cesar Chavez, which it has occupied since1952 and the city has managed since 1992, to a new facility at Levander Loop in east Austin, near the intersection of Airport Boulevard and Highway 183. The new facility will open November 12.

Town Lake Animal Center has launched a blog, The Last 100 Days of Town Lake Animal Center, to chronicle the move and the shelter’s history.


Architectural Rendering of the new facility.



Puppy mills better watch out! I have a GIF!

And with this GIF, I will strike terror into the hearts of illicit puppy mills everywhere……

Well, it’s cute, anyway. Thanks to the lovely and talented Amy Welborn for bringing this to my attention.


City of Rockwall, Texas approves no-kill

Photo by Christa Richert

Not pictured: Rockwall, Texas

The city of Rockwall, Texas has become the second Texas city to adopt a no-kill policy:

The Rockwall City Council voted unanimously Monday night to make Rockwall a No Kill community. It’s the culmination of a volunteer-driven campaign by Rockwall Pets, an independent nonprofit, to stop the killing of healthy and adoptable animals at the city shelter. Following meetings between Rockwall Pets board members and city management, the issue was sent to the city council.

The council directed city staff to maintain a minimum 90% live outcome rate at the city’s open-admission municipal shelter. The city must now adopt, return to owner, or save the lives of at least 90% of the animals it takes in. The No Kill Advocacy Center established what has become the industry standard, allowing a maximum euthanasia rate of 10% for animals who are gravely ill or irredeemably aggressive.


“I see the 90 percent, but I’m wondering why not 100 percent?” asked councilman David White, getting into the spirit of the discussion. “I wish that extra 10 percent could be cute little Yorkies.”

It may take as long as two or three months to retool Rockwall Animal Services to meet the council directive. In the meantime, councilwoman Margo Nielsen asked city staff to present a revised euthanasia selection protocol at the next council meeting. Rockwall Pets hopes this overhauled procedure, coupled with ongoing efforts from volunteers, will begin saving more lives immediately.

I applaud Rockwall for taking this step. It looks like they have some good citizen support, which is essential for a no-kill plan to succeed.Austin, of course, was the first Texas city to adopt no-kill, back in March 2010, and we have surpassed the 90% live outcome rate for most of 2011. This is the crucial time of year, when kittens and puppies are brought to the shelter in droves. Austin had a 93% live outcome rate for July 2011, according to the article quoted above, and Rockwall had a 83% live outcome rate. That still puts Rockwall far above many Texas cities.


Animal welfare roundup, July-August 2011

I got way behind on my Google alerts, so here are some stories from the past 3-4 weeks on animal welfare issues.

The Austin American-Statesman Editorial Board discusses the success of Austin’s “pet-friendly policies,” as the city shelter marks six months of achieving “no kill” status:

In June, the center surpassed no-kill goals, achieving a live outcome of 91 percent, meaning at least 9 of 10 animals that came in to the center left through adoptions, foster care or other placements that kept them alive. So about 1 in 10 died or was put down. And June is not a fluke; the animal center has achieved a live outcome of 90 percent for the past six months, and that is no small achievement considering that the center provides shelter for about 23,000 animals, mostly dogs and cats, each year. In the past, it relied heavily on putting stray animals down to manage Austin’s stray pet population.

Meanwhile, the Austin Chronicle notes “The ‘Unintended Consequences’ of No-Kill’s Success,” as the shelter has spent most of the summer at capacity for puppies and kittens:

The city announced that achievement [6 months of no-kill] in a press release on July 6. Nine days later, it sent out word that TLAC was at capacity and had run out of space for cats. That week, the shelter had taken in 347 dogs and cats. To save lives, the statement said, staff were “setting up temporary cat cages in the administrative conference room.”

So, the question is: Has it turned out that skeptics were right all along in arguing that the attempt to make Austin a no-kill city was bound to result in an animal shelter operating constantly over capacity, with animals living in every available space and staffers overwhelmed by a never-ending flood of new arrivals? The answer, [shelter director Abigail] Smith says, is yes and no.

“No” because animal shelters always see an increase in animal intake numbers in spring and summer, which is breeding season, or “kitten season,” as Smith calls it. A shelter doesn’t have to be no-kill to suffer the ill effects of a breeding season; it comes with the territory. “Yes” because there’s more than a little anecdotal evidence that people feel more comfortable surrendering their unwanted pets to the shelter now that it’s no-kill. Smith calls this an “unintended consequence of success,” one she would like to see vanish.

The shelter has a foster program to get dogs and cats out of the shelter and into homes. Sign up now.

A columnist for the International Business Times takes on critics of no-kill and promotes fostering and adoption:

Some people – even major organizations – still think the no-kill philosophy can’t succeed, in spite of all the evidence that it is succeeding. Only yesterday, a PETA spokesperson wrote in an Austin, Texas, newspaper that:

“It isn’t surprising that since implementing ‘no-kill’ policies, the Town Lake Animal Center is reportedly overcrowded and struggling to find space to house all the homeless animals who pour through its doors … [This] is only the beginning of what is to come, as long as it maintains these dangerous and misguided policies.

“Because there are so many more homeless animals than good homes waiting for them, the only way most shelters can avoid euthanasia is by caging animals for months on end, sometimes warehousing them in stacked crates – which is cruelty, plain and simple – or by turning away animals when there is no more room.”

What’s wrong with assertions like this?

For starters, it’s entirely untrue that “there are so many more homeless animals than good homes waiting for them.” In fact, the opposite is the case.

Photo by sanmarks

Photo by sanmarks

In other news, Texas is beginning to implement the newly-passed Puppy Mill Bill:

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) is taking the first steps to bring dog and cat breeders into compliance with the newly passed HB 1451, also known as the Puppy Mill Bill.  TDLR announced that a Licensed Breeders Advisory Committee (Committee) is now in the process of being formed to determine the rules and standards for large scale commercial dog and cat breeders as directed by the passage of HB 1451.

The Committee will be composed of nine members: two licensed breeders; two veterinarians; two members who represent Texas animal welfare organizations; two members of the public; and one animal control officer. Committee applications will be accepted through September 15, 2011.

A writer at OpposingViews offers a criticism of the outright ban on puppy mills passed in Los Angeles,in that it lacks clear definitions :

How many of these breeding factories actually exist within the city limits?

According to L. A. Animal Services veterans, they can’t recall ever finding one or receiving complaints about puppy mills. They say the city’s pet overpopulation stems from careless owners who do not spay their pets and a combination of local backyard and home-based hobby breeders churning out litters which are easily sold through Craig’s List, the Pennysaver, L.A. Times and flyers in pet supply stores or veterinary offices. And, of course, add whatever outlets are used by Los Angeles’ “responsible breeders” who are offended at the mention of advertising , but whose breeding credits are revealed and extolled  in dozens of Internet  Google references.

Finally, some problems are emerging with a new Texas law allowing pets to be included in protective orders in domestic violence situations, according to a writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

Another bill drawing questions is one from state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, that allows domestic abuse victims to include pets in a protective order against an abuser. During the session, supporters like Davis and House sponsor Jodie Laubenberg R-Parker, said some domestic abuse victims delay leaving an abusive situation out of concern over the welfare of a pet. Battered woman shelters usually don’t allow animals.

The new law is “unprosecutable” in most cases, [Texas District & County Attorney Association analyst Shannon] Edmonds said. At issue is how the bill restricted itself to animals that are “possessed” by the abuse victim. Legally, if a victim leaves their animal while fleeing for safety, the person is no longer in possession of the animal, Edmonds said. He argues that the bill should have referred to “ownership” rather than “possession.”

The moral of this post is as follows:

  1. Foster one or more shelter animals;
  2. Don’t breed dogs in your backyard; and
  3. Don’t commit domestic violence, or, if you are escaping an abusive situation, try to take your pets with you.

Some new furry friends

I organized a group of lawyers to volunteer at Town Lake Animal Center this past Saturday.  I’ll just say this: everyone should go to their nearest animal shelter, even if you don’t want or have the ability to care for a new pet, and at least spend some time interacting with the animals there.  It’s great for the dogs and cats, and it’s great for the people as well.  Who knows–you might leave with a new best friend.


Casey needs a new forever home!

Tyra and her "happy tail"

Tyra has "happy tail" and wants to meet you!

Casey and Tyra are wonderful dogs and could be a great addition to someone’s family.  A particular place in my heart, however, was stolen by Doodle, who has to be seen in action to be believed.

Doodle loves to play

Doodle is a bundle of joy and yappy energy

Doodle is happy to meet you

Doodle is happy to meet you!

Adopt a pet today!


Free spay/neuter services for pit bulls coming up later in May

The Pit Stop Program, a free spay/neuter for pit bulls, will be May 23-28, 2011 in Austin, Texas.  The event is sponsored by Love-A-Bull, Friends of Town Lake Animal Center, P.A.L.S., and EmanciPET.

Pit Stop Promo Flyer


In defense of old cats

I am a supporter of the No Kill movement, even if I have on occasion been a critic.  I nevertheless wholeheartedly support the goal of ending all needless killing of animals in shelters (a good summary of the definition of “No Kill” is here, and an interesting critique of the very concept of “No Kill” is here.)

Zeta goes for a rideI’ve lost a pet before, and I’ve had the experience of having to give up a pet as well (an experience I will write about some day when I’m ready.)  I’ve also had the experience of adopting an amazing, wonderful shelter animal, who is with me today.  So I am troubled beyond words by a Craigslist posting from yesterday entitled “need vet who will put my pets to sleep”:

I have 5 older cats. My house is being forclosed, long story. Is there a vet anywhere who will simply put the cats to sleep for me? I don’t want to take them to the shelter where they will be put to sleep because of their age.

In the event the posting is taken down, I saved a screenshot:

I wish it could go without saying that convenience is not a good reason to put pets “to sleep” (a passive-aggressive phrasing if ever there was one.)  I suppose I could understand a desire to not put a pet through the stress of going to a shelter at all, but I do not find that convincing.  There is no indication that these cats are sick or suffering; they’re just older than the owner thinks is preferable to prospective adopters.  I don’t know how much effort the owner has put into seeking out other adoption or foster possibilities, but I know euthanasia ought to be a last resort used sometime after never.

This is not a legal issue for me so much as an ethical or moral one.  The state of animal law is still such that animals are treated as personal property, even though they are protected by animal cruelty laws.  An owner of a pet still has certain life and death power.  I sincerely hope that we can come to a point where no one would ever even consider euthanizing an animal solely for want of a place to send it.  At least one example shows that any kind of dog or cat could find a loving home: the story of Ashley Owen Hill and Annie is a powerful testament to hope for all pets:

Annie had never known happiness. She had been beaten, neglected, and starved all of her life, and then she was dumped at a shelter to die. Annie waited on death row, terrified and lonely, crying every night for someone to help her. She was very ill, and the pound asked if I was willing to take her. Yep, I’m on my way.


When I saw Annie, it was obvious that she was very sick. She was underweight, coughing, and having trouble breathing, in addition to skin and eye issues. The vet told me that Annie had advanced heartworm disease, congestive heart failure, and several other severe medical conditions. It was highly unlikely that she would pull through any of the treatments, and she would suffer tremendously throughout the process. The vet asked me if I wanted to go ahead with euthanasia. “No. I’ll bring her back next week. Before she goes to Heaven, she needs to know love.”


That week, Annie slept in the bed with me. She ate the best food. She played as much as her little heart could stand. She laid next to me on the couch for belly rubs. She laughed at funny movies with me. That week, Annie was special. That week, Annie was home, for the first time in her life.


I buried Annie in my backyard next to Rudy. She died on September 14, 2010. But the week before her death, she finally lived.

It is worth it to read that whole post.  Now everyone get out there and give an animal a home.