Monday, September 24, 2007

And Now for the Rest of the (Statesman) Story...

We wanted to share with you a few more comments on the recent Statesman article on shelter relocation.

First, the headline "Should new animal shelter be closer to adopters or strays?" is disingenuous. The proposed Levander Loop location isn't closer to strays because --- as the article says --- the City's own numbers show that 60% of strays come from West of I-35.

Emancipet, which is already located at Levander Loop, also supports the move. But they recently issued a press release conceding they were struggling so much to fill their spay/neuter surgery slots at the stationary clinic at Levander Loop, that they might have to reduce staff. The entire release can be found here. And, their website includes a map to Levander Loop with this warning: "IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO PRINT OUT THESE DIRECTIONS AND TAKE THEM WITH YOU! IT IS VERY EASY TO GET LOST AND THE RECEPTIONISTS AREN'T ALWAYS ABLE TO ANSWERTHE PHONES TO HELP YOU IF YOU GET LOST!!!" What does the Emancipet situation say for the suitability of the Levander Loop location for the new animal shelter?

Many people will go anywhere to save a life and adopt a pet. But what percentage of Town Lake's current visitors and adopters fall into that category? Nobody knows. Has any type of study been done to find out? If 22,000 animals come in the door each year, then a mere 5% decrease in adoptions could result in another 1,100 animals dying. Casual visitors may not adopt, but maybe they donate money or tell their friends.

And what about the volunteers who supply 22,000 hours of free labor each year? What about the potty patrol program which tries to get housebroken dogs out each day and which requires volunteers to be at the shelter very early in the morning? What about the brand new trail walking program that both promotes the dogs and gives them much needed exercise and mental stimulation by walking them on the hike and bike trail? What about the after-hours volunteer program? How will a move impact these programs?

Finally, the City has never done a fair analysis to show what could be built at the current site for $12 million dollars. $12M certainly sounds like enough to build a good animal shelter, but we need a professional analysis where the person hasn't been told in advance what the outcome is supposed to be. Without that information, it's hard for me to see how the City can gamble with our pets' lives and our taxpayer money and simply decide to ignore public opposition and build at Levander Loop. Williamson County ignored a lot of advice from animal advocates in building their new regional shelter. And we all know how well that turned out.

(One thing Levander Loop might be suitable for is a temporary location while construction proceeds at TLAC. It is city-owned, there appears to be a large empty gymnasium that might house animals, empty land for exercise areas, and underutilized surgical space on-site.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

If You Care About Austin's Homeless Pets, the Time to Act Is Now

According to today's Austin American-Statesman, the Austin City Council will vote on whether to hire an architect to move Austin's animal shelter from downtown to the eastern outskirts on October 11, 2007. If you, like us, believe that moving our shelter away from the heart of our community---and away from the animals' primary adopters---is both immoral and inconsistent with the compassionate character of our City, the time to voice your opposition to the move is now.

Please take the time to e-mail the Austin City Council right now to tell them not to move our animal shelter to a mostly industrial area on the outskirts of town. You can e-mail the entire council at one time by clicking on this link: Please also urge your friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors to contact the City Council as well. You can do so by writing them an e-mail, asking them in person, calling them up, or dropping by printed-out advocacy cards from this link:

Please act today. Generations of Austin's lost and homeless pets will thank you.