EMANCIPE+ Blog


Welcoming a New Chief Animal Services Officer by Amy
January 28, 2011, 6:38 pm
Filed under: Executive Director | Tags: , , , ,

After a long, nationwide search, the City of Austin has selected Abigail Smith to become Austin’s new Chief Animal Services Officer, a job with duties that include overseeing the municipal animal shelter and animal control.  Even though we are a separate non-profit, Emancipet partners closely with the City on many of our programs, including Free Days and Spay Street, our door-to-door outreach program; and our clinic is located on the land where the new shelter is under construction (and looking incredible, by the way).  Needless to say, we’ve been eager to find out who the new leader would be.  I’m happy to say that from what I’ve heard, we should be very excited about this selection.

Abigail has a reputation for a fierce commitment to saving the lives of animals in her current shelter, which appears to be matched by an understanding and commitment to preventing them from becoming homeless in the first place.  We don’t know Abigail personally yet, but we’re looking forward to getting to know her, and working alongside her to serve all the animals in our community, and we are optimistic about her potential to continue our City’s wonderful progress on animal issues.

Abigail has a lot of support here, starting with a committed staff at the shelter, and the board and staff at Emancipet.  And it’s a good thing – her’s is one of the toughest jobs in our community, and she’ll need the support and participation of the entire community to reach our ambitious and important goals for a humane community.

I hope you’ll join us in welcoming her, and in giving her the support she’ll need.

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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!



Is TLAC now “No Kill?” by Amy

The other day I was at Town Lake Animal Center for a meeting, and a sweet family came up to the front desk with a tiny kitten they found in their garage.  When they handed her over to a staff person, they said, “Congratulations on being no kill now.  We knew this little kitty would be safer with you guys since there’s no euthanasia anymore.”

The moment really took me aback.  This family had heard on the news that in March, our City Council voted to ban euthanasia at the shelter as long as cages were available, and like many other hopeful animal lovers, they had assumed that meant TLAC was now “No Kill.”  If only it were that easy.

Sadly, the moratorium passed in March has not ended euthanasia at the shelter.  Every day, more animals come in, and with every cage already full, euthanasia continues every day.  In short, our community is still producing far too many unwanted pets.

As you already know, ending unnecessary euthanasia will require reducing the number of animals entering the shelter, and increasing the number that leave alive.  Austin has been making steady progress towards both of these goals for the last few years.  Frustratingly, since the news of the moratorium started to spread, we’ve been losing ground on our race to reduce shelter intake.

Perhaps due in part to the misunderstanding caused by media coverage and mistaken beliefs about the shelter’s no kill status, shelter intake is actually up since the moratorium passed.  Since March, about 800 more animals ended up at the shelter than in the same time period last year – mostly cats abandoned by their owners. (Click here for access to the data)

Thank goodness for the hardworking staff at TLAC and the dedicated rescue groups working to get animals out of the shelter alive.  Remarkably, adoptions and transfers are actually up a little, which has meant that euthanasia has so far not increased with the uptick in intake.  But that can’t and won’t last long if intake keeps rising.

At Emancipet, we are working hard to combat this new trend by advocating for spay/neuter and offering free spay/neuter as often as we can afford to.  As owner surrender rates rise, we can’t afford for even one unwanted litter to end up at the shelter, competing for scant resources with the dogs and cats abandoned by their owners, many of which are adults and harder to adopt out.

Want to help?  Here’s two easy things you can do right now that will make a difference:

  1. Tell 3 friends about Emancipet’s free and low-cost spay/neuter clinics and walk-in wellness clinics.  Or, better yet – donate $50 so we can offer another family a free spay/neuter surgery.
  2. E-mail Sarah Hammond (sarah.hammond@ci.austin.tx.us) at TLAC to volunteer to foster kittens or other animals in need.