Maintaining no-kill status will require community support as intake outpaces adoptions at Austin Animal Center

Soup is available for adoption at Austin Animal Center. His pet identification number is A821758. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Soup is available for adoption at Austin Animal Center. His pet identification number is A821758. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)

Soup is available for adoption at Austin Animal Center. His pet identification number is A821758. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin Animal Center—the city-run animal shelter—is once again facing a capacity crisis, according to a June 25 memorandum from Chief Animal Services Officer Don Bland to the city of Austin.

Bland said every kennel in the facility is full, and AAC staff have resorted to doubling up on dogs in each suite. As of June 30, the shelter is operating with negative 19 kennels for large dogs, according to a notice on AAC’s website.

The memorandum follows a notice issued in early June that kennel space was completely depleted for medium and large dogs.

The capacity crisis is due to animal intake far outpacing the number of adoptions, rescues and fosters, according to Bland. AAC is an open-intake facility, meaning the shelter accepts lost, surrendered and stray animals from Austin and the Travis County region, regardless of their age, species or health.

From June 1 through June 23, 898 dogs and cats left the shelter, but AAC took in another 1,146 cats and dogs during the same time period. As of June 25, 604 animals were on-site with an additional 411 living in foster homes.

This challenge is not unique to AAC or the Austin area: Bland said shelters throughout the South are facing similar capacity and space issues. Due to this trend, AAC’s largest rescue partners are unable to take in additional animals.

If the capacity crisis is not alleviated, AAC may need to issue notifications for the potential euthanasia of some long-stay dogs or dogs with behavioral concerns.

Since 2011, AAC has maintained its status as a no-kill shelter, meaning it reached or surpassed the 90% animal outcome threshold. Bland said maintaining this status will require a community effort.

“Maintaining a no kill shelter requires support for the entire community and we are asking the community to help us with this challenge,” Bland wrote.

Residents who find a lost pet or wish to surrender their own are being asked to hold onto the animal until AAC can accommodate them. Bland encouraged those who find a loose dog to post flyers and speak with neighbors in the community the dog was found in. He said 50% of people who find a lost dog will locate the owner when that dog is kept in the area it was found in.

As of June 4, the shelter located at 7201 Levander Loop, Austin, is open to the public, and adoption appointments are not required.

By Amy Rae Dadamo
Amy Rae Dadamo is the reporter for Lake Travis-Westlake, where her work focuses on city government and education. Originally from New Jersey, Amy Rae relocated to Austin after graduating from Ramapo College of New Jersey in May 2019.


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