Austin Animal Center at ‘critical capacity’; city dubs it a ‘space emergency’

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The Austin Animal Center, the city-run animal shelter, is on pace to take in 18,000 animals this year, more than any year since 2014, according to city staff who said the shelter is currently bursting at the seams, leading the city to waive all adoption fees June 28-30.

In a memo to the mayor and council made public June 28, Kimberly McNeeley, the interim chief animal services officer for the city, said the shelter was experiencing a “space emergency.”

“As of [June 27], the Austin Animal Center has no additional capacity to house animals,” McNeeley wrote. “Each kennel, including temporary kennels, medical kennels and quarantine kennels, is occupied. Additionally, staff is housing and caring for animals in their office spaces.”

In addition to waiving all adoption fees, the city is teaming up with the nonprofits Austin Pets Alive! and the Austin Humane Society to begin transferring pets to their care. All three will be doing outreach to alert the Austin community of the need for help.

Austin is among the largest no-kill shelter communities in the country, meaning animals are rarely euthanized. McNeeley said the entire Austin community needed to play in a role in ensuring a commitment to its no-kill philosophy.

“Aspiring to be the nation’s largest no-kill community requires the entire community to assist by adopting, fostering and/or donating,” McNeeley said.

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Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following two years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and USA Today. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
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