EMANCIPE+ Blog


Lesson From San Antonio by Amy
August 12, 2010, 6:10 pm
Filed under: Executive Director | Tags: , , , , , ,

I just read this interesting, but not entirely surprising article from our neighbors down in San Antonio.  SA has had a mighty struggle with animal issues (formerly the highest per capita euthanasia rates in the nation).  Recently the SA City Council, area foundations and animal welfare groups have come together to try to transform SA into a no kill community.  They have started investing seriously in programs to increase live outcomes for their homeless pets.

But they quickly realized an inescapable truth – their efforts have not been as successful as they hoped because there are far too many homeless pets to begin with.  They have learned that without significantly bolstering their prevention efforts, they cannot end the killing of homeless pets.  Specifically, they cited the need for more spay/neuter.

It’s a lesson that many communities have to learn the hard way.  The road towards ending euthanasia often starts with a focus on increasing adoptions, and then dead-ends with a realization of the need for a whole more spay/neuter.  Though a balanced approach (between prevention and management of the homeless pet population) is critical, failing to adequately prioritize prevention efforts can be a death knell for humane efforts, and the animals they are supposed to save.

Thankfully, it sounds like SA is getting on the right track and is ready to fully invest in prevention efforts.  Good luck, SA – everyone is rooting for you!

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Reflections on 2009 by Amy

Emancipet is fast-paced, to say the least.  As an organization with two high volume spay/neuter clinics – speed and efficiency is our mantra around here.  That fast pace is essential in an organization like ours, but it also makes it hard to slow down occasionally and reflect on our successes and our challenges, and take the time to learn from them.  2009 was a year with plenty of both.

The economic crisis was at the heart of some of those challenges and we started the year anxious about the potential increase in demand for our services, a decrease in donations, and losing support from the City of Austin, a major partner in our free spay/neuter program.  In fact, we did see a huge increase in demand for our services, and in June, the City put our free spay/neuter programs on the list of budget cuts.

In a wonderful and unexpected way, each challenge turned out to be a gift.  We had the privilege of caring for more pets than ever before.  We spayed or neutered 16,688 pets and provided wellness care to an additional 11,569 pets.  We did not have to turn away a single pet in need because we cut costs, found efficiencies, and were the fortunate beneficiaries of an increase in donations and volunteer hours to accommodate the increase in demand.  And this community rallied together in the most inspiring, unified way to fight City budget cuts, and saved the Free Mobile Spay/Neuter program.

That would have been an inspiring enough year, but to add to it, we finally moved into our new clinic and office space this fall after a long, long wait.  I am looking forward to great things in 2010.  We expect to serve even more pets this year, and have an exiting group of programs to get our services to the animals who need them most, including the Mobile Free Spay/Neuter program, Spay Street, Free Rabies Drive Clinics, the Regional Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinic, and more.



Power of Ten by Amy

We’re officially into holiday mode here at Emancipet.  That means a higher than average percentage of clients in need of free services for their pets.  We always need the community’s help and donations to get through this season, and this year is no exception.  If anything, we expect to need more donations than ever before to ensure that we can meet the needs of the 2,000 dogs and cats we expect to help in the next 6 weeks alone.

We also know, however, that it’s been a tough year for everyone in our community, and that we are all hoping our dollars go far enough this holiday season.  So, in honor of our tenth anniversary this year, and in recognition of what a tough year its been for everyone, we are launching our “Power of Ten” holiday fundraiser.  It’s our way of saying – “You don’t have to give a lot to make a big difference for animals.”  The Power of Ten allows you give at a level that’s comfortable for you, while ensuring the power of your gift is maximized to help the greatest number of animals.

If you give to the Power of Ten, you’ll choose a gift of $10, $100, or $1,000 – and your gift will be automatically matched by two generous donors who will both donate one dollar to Emancipet for each dollar you donate.  Then, you’ll have a chance to make your gift go even further by picking ten of your friends, colleagues, or family members to receive a personalized Power of Ten request to match your donation as well.

With this campaign, you could give as little as $10 out of your own pocket, but Emancipet and the animals we serve would get $130 total from you, your friends and our automatic match. And the best part?  The money you donate goes directly to providing free and very low cost spay/neuter, which reduces our homeless pet population.  It’s wonderful to know that your gift can actually help more animals get a home for the holidays by reducing the number of homeless pets in the shelter, waiting for a happy ending.

I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to these donors who have already contributed to the Power of Ten in the first few days of the campaign: David Gunn, Karina Hernandez, Deanna Burger, Kim Rabago, Lorrie Meyer, Randy Martin, Scott Bonilla, Asha Thune, Amanda Myers, Nick Weynand, Debra Ellerman, Piret Sari-Tate, Kimberly Edmondson, Wendy Murphy, Nicole Tumlinson, Farhaneh Shirazee, Lara Gale, Whitney Lawson, Susan Culp, Denise Maryanski, Lisa Iguchi, and James Flaggert.



Spay/Neuter Capacity at Austin’s City Shelter by Amy

This Thursday, September 24, the Austin City Council will consider a resolution directing the City Manager to develop a plan to increase the capacity for spay/neuter surgery at the Town Lake Animal Center (TLAC).  This would allow TLAC to provide spay/neuter services seven days per week, to sterilize all the animals that leave the shelter.  Currently, the shelter does not have the staff capacity to spay and neuter every animal in their care, meaning that some animals wait several days for spay/neuter, even if they have already been adopted, and some leave the shelter before being spayed or neutered.

I was thrilled to see this resolution, which marks a major step forward for Austin’s animal shelter.  Emancipet has advocated for more spay/neuter capacity at TLAC for some time now, and we are so glad that Council Members Bill Spelman and Laura Morrison, who have co-sponsored this resolution, understand the importance of spay/neuter, and the impact that increased veterinary capacity inside the shelter will have on live outcomes for animals.

The value of this resolution is not just that all animals will leave the shelter spayed or neutered – it can also increase the number of animals that leave the shelter alive.  Currently, adopters have to wait until an animal is spayed or neutered before they take their new pet home.  Some wait several days, depending on the day of the week they adopt the animal.  If spay/neuter is occurring every day, the wait time between an adoption and when the animal can be picked up by the adopter will decrease, resulting in shorter shelter stays and therefore more space for additional animals.  Further, if all animals are spayed and neutered in-house, rescue groups with limited budgets will be able to rescue more animals from the shelter because they won’t have the financial burden of paying to spay or neuter the animals they save.

This resolution could very well save the lives of hundreds of animals each year at the shelter.  Please take a moment to send an e-mail to the Austin City Council – http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/council/groupemail.htm – and encourage them to vote for Item 70 and move forward with increasing spay/neuter capacity at the City Shelter.  This is an important step forward for our City, and our shelter.



City Saves Sterilization Program! by Amy

Today is a great day for the animals of Austin!  This morning, the City Manager presented his budget recommendations to the City Council, and he recommended no reductions to Animal Services.  This means that our free sterilization and microchipping programs will remain fully funded, as will the feral cat sterilization and medical care fund.

These programs are critical to maintaining our progress towards becoming a humane community – a place where no cat or dog is ever killed just for being homeless.  I am thrilled that our City Manager and his staff had the opportunity to hear from all of us on this issue, to help them understand what was truly at stake.  Ed Van Eenoo, Austin’s budget officer, indicated this morning that the results of the Town Hall meetings largely determined what programs were spared.  It is because of you, and your attendance at those meetings, your emails and calls to City staff and Council, and your signatures on petitions, that these programs have been saved.  You prevented the City of Austin from taking major steps backwards, and reducing investment in animals at a time when animals need us most.

The experiences of the last month have taught us a valuable lesson about our role in ensuring that our local government continues to invest sufficiently in animal services, and fulfill its responsibility to prevent animal homelessness and manage our homeless pet population.  The City must continue to provide for these basic, foundation services, which the non-profit animal welfare organizations like Emancipet will build on, so that we can collectively make the greatest possible difference for animals.

We do have a role to play in ensuring that ours is a community that is moving, every single day, towards ending unnecessary euthanasia. We will be doing more from now on to keep you informed of policy issues that impact animals, and we’ll be asking for your help from time to time.  I hope you’ll continue to stay involved – and that you’ll always be willing to make the calls and send the emails that will save innocent animals.



Puppy Love and Budget Cuts by Amy

Yesterday, I worked at a City of Austin Free Rabies Vaccination Clinic.  These happen four times a year so that Austin’s lowest income pet owners have access to vaccinations to keep their pets, and the entire community, safe from rabies.  The City also uses these to educate pet owners about local resources to help them.  At the clinics, I set up a station so I can sign people up for free spay/neuter from Emancipet.  Yesterday we signed up 90 animals in just a few hours.

Not everyone was interested in spay/neuter, of course.  At one point, I saw a young man, maybe about 17 years old, standing in the shade off to the side.  He was holding a little pit bull puppy that was about 8 weeks old.  I asked him to come over so I could see the puppy.

He said he wanted to breed him one day and sell the puppies to make some money like his friends in his neighborhood.  What he really wanted, he said, was a free microchip for the pup, but not surgery.  I kept talking to him because I could see that he really wanted to do the right thing.  When he looked at his new puppy, his eyes told the same story that those of us who have fallen in love with a pet already know.  He looked surprised, a little embarrassed, and completely smitten with a little brown puppy.

Because of City  of Austin funding, I was able to offer him a free microchip, free vaccinations, and free Frontline for 6 months, all if he would do what we both knew was right – to neuter this little dog.  When he agreed, everyone around us cheered for him.  It was a great moment, and we have many moments just like this at every rabies clinic.

If the City of Austin budget cuts go through as proposed, not only will we lose half of our regular Free Sterilization program – where we go into neighborhoods and provide free spay/neuter from our mobile clinic, but we’ll also lose the funds to provide spay/neuter and incentives like this at Rabies Clinics and other events.  Without free spay/neuter funding, more unwanted animals will be born, more will end up at the shelter, and more will die.

We can’t let this happen.  I hope that if you agree, you’ll help us fight these budget cuts. Visit www.emancipet.org for more information on how to get involved.



Ten Years and 100,000 Surgeries Later by Amy

Kelli became the 100,000th patient spayed at EMANCIPE+ on June 3, 2009Well, this has been quite a whirlwind week for us at EMANCIPE+.  On Wednesday, we successfully completed our 100,000th spay/neuter surgery on a beautiful lab mix named Kelli.  She seemed pretty happy about the news that she would be the 100,000th patient, as she barked joyously when we made the announcement in the lobby that morning.  She and her dad, Bobby, received a gift basket with goodies donated by the ASPCA, Town Lake Animal Center, and EMANCIPE+, including lots of dog treats and an iPod shuffle.  We learned from Bobby that Kelli was a new addition to the family.  They recently adopted her from a family who found her as a stray and cared for her until she was adopted, as they were unable to locate her original owners.  Bobby seems to be pretty smitten with this special dog, so it sounds like she’s got a long and happy life ahead of her.  We are proud that we got to be a part of her life for a little while.

Then, yesterday, we celebrated our 10th Anniversary with a fundraiser and celebration at the Hyatt.  10th Anniversary LuncheonI was so moved to see so many people in the crowd who cared enough about animals to spend part of a busy day with us and contribute to our efforts. In my remarks yesterday, I told our guests that we are finally seeing that it is possible to make Austin a community where no cat or dog is ever killed just for being homeless.  The facts coming out of Austin’s shelters are telling the story that programs like ours, along with the other life-saving programs in our community and at the shelters, are working.

And so, here we are.  100,000 surgeries and ten years have gone by and finally, we are seeing hope that our vision is becoming a reality.  I have always had faith that our efforts were worthwhile, but I am now 100% confident that we will reach our goal of ending the unnecessary killing of homeless pets in Austin, and I don’t think it’s that far away.  Part of my confidence comes from my strong faith in the partnerships we have built with area shelters, rescue groups, and animal welfare organizations who all share the same goal.  With all of us working together on proven, strategic, and efficient programs, I have no doubt that we will succeed, and soon.

On June 9, our “real” 10th Anniversary, we will be kicking off a special fundraising campaign.  This will be an accessible and affordable way for people to get involved and help us raise much needed funds for our next 100,000 surgeries.  Stay tuned to our web site and this blog for details in the next few days.