Jan 26, 2024
Last year was extremely challenging for animal shelters in the US, and Austin was no exception. The Austin of yesteryear found tremendous pride in leading the country in No Kill during a time when shelters struggled the most to save the lives of even half of the pets who entered their care. In this new era of humane struggles, where pets are guaranteed not to be killed while other pets are left on the streets, some living in crates for too long, and people struggle to keep their pets without support, our city must take the lead in progressive, lifesaving solutions. Austin Pets Alive! has been relatively quiet about these issues on public platforms as we wait for the much-needed shelter audit to bear fruit, and I regret that choice. APA! has been given a microphone for pets in our community over the last 15 years, and we need to help be the voice of animals in need both publicly and behind the scenes.
No Kill is so much more than a metric. No Kill means that pets are treated as individuals and that the community is welcome into every part of the shelter, including, and especially, being able to help with every single decision that might end a pet’s life. No Kill means a profound departure from operations that treat pets as if they have no moral value or every pet is the same. It means that we, as a community, believe that our pets are family members and, even if separated from the family, or penniless, should be treated as such.
We know and intimately understand the challenges that our city is facing. However, if we want to live in a city that not only values progress and being the best, but demonstrates it, we have to collectively voice that. I want you to know that, although we have been quiet, we are paying attention. We are advocating, through meetings with city staff and council offices, that our city commit and act on achieving No Kill, public safety, humane care inside the shelter and community support all at once. We know it is possible.
Austin became the model city for No Kill because we had difficult conversations and opened the curtains wide to the issues the city shelter faced. They were not insurmountable, obviously because we are a No Kill city now, but they felt that way at the time. We need to bring people together to fix the problems our city faces so that the best solutions can surface. True No Kill is built on transparency with the public and accountability to do what is right.
As we quickly move into 2024, a primary focus of all of us has to be on championing Austin to be the safest place in the US for pets.
Please consider taking this short survey to help us form the next steps.
I’ll resurrect a slogan from 15 years ago. Austin, we can do better.
Dr. Ellen Jefferson
President and CEO, Austin Pets Alive!