Monday, September 15, 2008

Dumped pups finding new homes!

Last week my friends arrived at their new home to discover that someone had dumped a litter of seven puppies on their property.  Rather than calling Animal Control, they got in touch with me and I sent them to the good people at AustinPetsAlive!, who were willing to take the pups into the adoption program.
Once we APA! signed on, I contacted a wonderful neighbor who does lots of dog rescue and she was happy to loan me a large crate so that these seven furballs could be transported from the Cedar Park area to my house.  My friends stopped by and picked up the large crate and hoped for the best for Wednesday.  I say hoped for the best because these puppies were terrified of humans.  So far my friends hadn't been able to wrangle these pups to put them anywhere, although they noted that the pups were very distracted when dining.  

Wednesday morning, my ingenious friend placed their food inside the crate that would carry them to my house.  All but six of the pups ran straight into the crate!   It was an easy catch to get number seven and they were on their way, with the enormous crate turned catawampus to fit in the back of a Cooper Mini.  

Once at my place, the pups
settled into my garage well. Another wonderful neighbor gave me two small crates so I was able to separate out a couple of the pups who were getting pushed away from the food dish.  Everyone was fed and drank a LOT of water, and a couple even romped around the garage briefly. (I considered this a pretty big accomplishment given their level of terror of humans.)  Everyone settled into a puppy pile and slept the night away.

Bright (okay dark) and early Thursday morning, I got everyone loaded up and taken to Emancipet where they would get spayed or neutered and microchipped.  I am pleased to report that they were taken to off-site adoptions Friday and Sunday, and it's my understanding that all but one of the pups has a new home!  Thanks to everyone who assisted in this effort to place these sweet puppies.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Save the Date: October 17th "Road to No Kill Austin" Featuring Nathan Winograd

Some of you may not know that Austin's pound currently kills more than 13,000 dogs and cats each year as it has for decades.  That's why we founded with the goal of reducing Austin's shelter killing through the use of cost-effective, proven programs that have effectively and dramatically reduced shelter killing in other communities across the country.

So we're very, very pleased to announce that on Friday, October 17th from 6pm to 8:30pm, is hosting a major event for those who care about Austin's homeless animals. That evening at Austin City Hall, we'll host "The Road to No Kill Austin," a public-policy forum on ways to dramatically reduce Austin's killing of companion animals.

The event will feature presentations from a few of Austin's brightest minds in animal welfare, and the keynote presentation will be delivered by national no-kill expert Nathan Winograd of the No Kill Advocacy Center.

Attendance is free and open to the public.  Donations are encouraged, and attendees are also encouraged to enjoy our silent auction to raise funds for homeless pets.

UPDATE:  Ready to reserve your free spot at the conference?  Please let us know you'll be attending by filing out our reservation form here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Customer Service? That's Crazy!

Our friends at wrote an important blog today about adoptions at animal shelters--- or the lack thereof. The blog makes two really important points.

First, when shelters blame the public for everything (not enough spay/neuter, too much breeding, irresponsible pet owners, etc.), they put themselves in a position against the public. So what would happen if shelters asked the public for help instead of blaming them for all that is wrong?

Second, if we increased the percentage of pets adopted from shelters rather than other sources from 21 to 24%, no more homeless dogs and cats would be killed at municipal shelters.

Think about it. That's not an intimidating task. But it takes a seismic change in attitude and direction--- a major challenge for shelter bureaucrats across the country (and Austin is no exception).

Read the PetConnection blog by clicking here.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Meet Sophia (Shall She Be Yours?)

Some people like to suggest that the management team "talks the talk" but doesn't "walk the walk." That's because some people don't know what they're talking about, and would rather hurl uninformed insults than confront the reality that Austin's staggering shelter killing (one every 12 minutes this decade) is not inevitable.

Rather, it is the predictable result of Austin's pound management's lack of focus or interest in increasing adoptions. Let's just put it this way: if Austin's animals shelters adopted out homeless pets to the same percentage of citizens as Reno's shelters did in 2007 (~4%), not a single animal would have been killed at Austin's pound.

But let's get back to the whole "walk the walk" thing.

We would like to introduce you to Sophia. She's just about the sweetest little German Shepherd you'll ever meet in your life. With her piercing black eyes, she's already figured out when humans want her to be calm (inside, preferably in your lap, says Sophia) and when they want you to run around and have fun (outside on the lawn). And at just 2.5 months, she's already mastered the science of going to the bathroom outside rather than inside--- no small feet in the puppy world.

Speaking of small feet, Sophia has none (small feet, that is). Hers are big (and clumsy), and the back ones have six toes. And she endearingly wraps her front feet around your arms when she's being carried. "Safety first," she says.

You can probably tell that we love Sophia. We really do. She's going to make someone a really happy dog owner. Could it possibly be you?

Update: Sophia has been adopted. Woohoo!!!

No Kill Conference 2009

We're delighted to pass along an e-mail we received this morning from no-kill expert Nathan Winograd of the No Kill Advocacy Center. The NKAC will be hosting a No Kill Conference in Washington, D.C., in May 2009, and we're honored to report that founder Ryan Clinton has been invited to participate in a panel discussion of shelter-reform advocacy at the conference.

Please join us in D.C. in May 2009. You can find out more, and register for the conference, by clicking this link. Below is the e-mail from the NKAC:

Dear Friends/Colleagues:

I wanted you folks to be among the first to know about our May 2009 No Kill conference in the nation's capital and hope you will choose to join us. The No Kill Advocacy Center is teaming up with the Animal Law program at George Washington University Law School to bring together the nation’s most successful shelter directors and the nation’s top animal lawyers. They will show you how to create a No Kill community and teach you how to use the legal system to save the lives of animals.

Learn from animal control/shelter directors who are now saving over 90% of all animals using the building blocks to No Kill success—programs and services that have had results in both urban and rural communities—to increase adoptions, reduce length of stay, increase redemption rates, rehabilitate animals, and much, much more.

Learn from animal law experts who have challenged our legal system to help animals: Whether it’s drafting model laws, fighting breed specific legislation, eliminating the gas chamber, filing impact legislation, or protecting condemned dogs, learn how to use the legal system to save the lives of animals.

Learn from activists fighting entrenched and regressive shelters in their own community as they show you how to launch successful campaigns for reform.

Register today for a No Kill conference unlike any you have ever been to.

This is a must attend conference for animal lovers, activists, rescuers, shelter directors, shelter staff, humane society board members, lawyers, paralegals and anyone who wants to be a force for change.

For more information, including speakers, workshops, registration, and more, go to or click here.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Old Guard v. New Guard

For animal lovers who haven't read a great deal about the No Kill Advocacy Center, the ASPCA, HSUS, and PETA, it can be difficult to understand why the animal-welfare groups don't "just get along." Well, the short answer is because they are different: they have fundamentally different philosophies and institutional interests.

Today, we found a very well-written blog about the difference between the old guard (ASPCA, HSUS, and PETA) and the new guard (NKAC) that really helps explain the current status of animal welfare in America.

Please take a moment to read the No Kill Revolution's current blog here.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fox 7 Morning Show Talks Shelter Killing

Wednesday morning, Fox 7 news invited founder Ryan Clinton to talk about the results of shelter-reform efforts in Reno, NV, and Austin, TX. As Ryan explained on the show, Reno doubled its adoptions and cut its kill rate in half in just one year. During the same period, Austin's shelter killing increased 11% and its adoptions declined almost 4%. It was a bad year for Austin, but a great year for Reno's homeless pets. As Ryan summed it up on the show, "We have a lot to learn from Reno."

To watch the segment, just click here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Get Involved with AustinPetsAlive!

For those of you who haven't heard, AustinPetsAlive! is saving the lives of animals each day!  If you are looking for a place to donate your time, talents, money or home, APA! wants to hear from you.  APA! has many ways to contribute, and I encourage you to visit the APA! website to see what activities best suit your abilities.  A few of the opportunities are highlighted below.

Perhaps the greatest need right now is for fosters for the dogs that APA! pulls from shelters or takes in from its P.A.S.S. program.  (Positive Alternatives to Shelter Surrender helps to find pets new, loving responsible homes).  There are many dogs that need temporary homes while waiting to find their forever homes.  If you can provide a temporary home, even if only for a few days, you should consider volunteering as a foster for APA! 
Who wouldn't want to offer me a home?? 

Off-Site Adoptions
As you may have read in other posts on this blog, APA! is currently sponsoring off-site adoptions in an effort to place sweet and deserving dogs in forever homes.  And APA! can really use the help
at these events, keeping dogs cool, walking the dogs, keeping the area neat and tidy, and answering questions about APA!   I have participated in a few of these off-site events on South Congress and they are lots of fun!

A couple of satisfied customers!

Donations and Supplies
Of course, monetary donations are always appreciated and needed.  It takes money to keep these furry friends cool, fed and watered.  That said, supplies are also welcome.  Check out APA!'s wish list online for a sampling of the types of supplies needed to keep things running, but here are just a few:
** transport vehicles 
** office supplies 
** food, toys, dishes, rawhides, beds
** exercise pens, leashes, collars

I enjoy coolin' my heels on hot off-site days!

I hope everyone will consider giving in any way they can to APA! as it strives to make Austin a no-kill City by providing dogs with loving, permanent homes.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Houston Chronicle Endorses Winograd

Today, the Houston Chronicle's Editorial Board wrote about the need to reduce Houston's horrific, 80% animal-shelter kill rate. In the editorial, the Editorial Board publicly demanded that the City of Houston look to the No Kill Advocacy Center's Nathan Winograd to lead Houston's shelter-reform efforts.

This should not be a momentous occasion. The No Kill Advocacy Center is largely responsible for dramatic reductions in shelter killing in other cities. Today, the nation's lowest-kill communities are Ithaca, NY, Charlottesville, VA, and Reno, NV--- all cities whose efforts were led or inspired by the No Kill Advocacy Center's no-kill sheltering method.

Yet for some reason, Austin's press doesn't seem to get it. The Austin American-Statesman has on several occasions bashed those who question Austin's shelter killing, and this week, the Austin Chronicle wrote an otherwise very informative and powerful story that unnecessarily took several shots at Nathan Winograd.

So what gives? Frankly, we don't know.

But we are glad to see the Houston Chronicle's Editorial Board take a stand in favor of a progressive effort to reduce shelter killing based on empirically proven methods that have reduced shelter killing in communities across the country. We will continue to hope that Austin's press will someday follow.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Vets Speak Out Against Mandatory Spay-Neuter Ordinances

Much has been said (here and elsewhere) about the fact that mandatory spay-neuter ordinances do not work to reduce shelter killing--- and often actually increase shelter killing due to increased owner-surrenders.

The Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association recently chimed in against a proposed ordinance in Chicago. Their conclusion paragraph is damning:

"You do not hear an overwhelming call for mandatory spay/neuter laws from animal health professionals because many of the proposed benefits simply cannot be substantiated. Mandatory spay/neuter laws have had a mixed result in reducing the number of unwanted pets, placed an undue and unenforceable burden on police and animal control officials, reduced vaccination compliance for rabies, and unintentionally restricted access to healthcare for pets. The idea that mandatory spay/neuter will change a gangbanger’s behavior or that dog bite injuries will vanish is absurd. At the end of the day, no progress will be made on gang behavior or pet overpopulation and honest tax payers will be forced to give up yet another right in making health decisions for their pets. This ordinance may seem like a quick-fix for aldermen seeking solutions to challenging problems, but the reality is that it will not fix the problems they are looking to resolve. This ordinance will, however, create a nightmare for those who have to abide by it--veterinarians, police officers, animal control officials, public health providers and honest law-abiding taxpayers. Laws should be designed to solve problems, not create more. The Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association recommends that this proposal be allowed to die and welcomes a chance to help the city and citizens of Chicago and Illinois craft well written, meaningful and thoughtful animal legislation."

Read the full ISVMA letter here.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Power of Off-Site Adoptions

For years, Town Lake Animal Center, supported by the ASPCA's "Mission Orange" effort, has opposed bringing TLAC animals to off-site adoptions at high-foot-traffic areas throughout the City.

As recently as February 2007, "Mission Orange" released a statement to the Austin American-Statesman defending TLAC's "lack of an offsite adoption program" because, according to "Mission Orange," the animals being killed at TLAC are not "desirable and placeable."

Boy is the ASPCA wrong.

A wonderful new effort by Austin Pets Alive, led by Dr. Ellen Jefferson, is blowing the doors off of the blame-the-animals excuse for shelter killing. They have rescued over 100 dogs off the TLAC "kill list" (we assume the ASPCA would call this the "undesirable and unplaceable" list) in just a few short weeks.

Take a look at APA's awesome new off-site adoption program. Take a look at the "undesirable" puppies finding new homes. They look terrible, don't they?!?

To see volunteers Ryan and Tom helping find homes for the "undesirable" pets saved from TLAC, click APA's photo site here.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Announcing FixAustin Fosters! is delighted to announce our new partnership with non-profit animal-adoption group Austin Pets Alive to help reduce the needless killing of homeless pets at Austin's Town Lake Animal Center. Like, Austin Pets Alive is dedicated to reducing the killing of Austin's sheltered pets through the use of innovative programs and policies that are already working to reduce shelter killing in other communities.

Today, we're asking our supporters to volunteer to become foster parents for animals saved from the TLAC kill list. FixAustin Fosters would provide loving care for fostered homeless pets, and Austin Pets Alive would provide multiple weekly adoption events to give those great pets multiple opportunities every week to find a new loving home.

We believe that Austin Pets Alive's great work--- in proving that off-site adoption events can dramatically increase shelter adoptions--- will eventually help tear down the walls of bureaucratic resistance to reform at Austin's animal shelter. At the same time, we can help save the lives of dozens, if not hundreds, of wonderful pets every year. And if that were not enough to convince you, we're also giving away free t-shirts to any of our supporters who fosters a homeless pet through Austin Pets Alive's foster program. Just tell them you're a FixAustin Foster to make sure you get a free t-shirt.

To learn more and sign up to become a FixAustin Foster through Austin Pets Alive, please click this link: Thanks, in advance, for helping save the lives of Austin's sheltered pets!

Friday, July 04, 2008

FixAustin on the Radio

We've been amazed by the attention that our Austin v. Reno report has received. The report has been downloaded more than 6,800 times from readers all across the country, it has been talked about on national animal-welfare blogs, and we've been contacted by animal-welfare advocates from California to Florida for advice on how to achieve shelter reform through public advocacy.

We've also been interviewed on local and national radio. The nationally syndicated radio show "Animal Wise Radio" interviewed's Ryan Clinton on live national radio this Sunday to discuss's efforts, its goals, and the Austin v. Reno report on shelter-reform efforts in each city. To listen to the roughly twenty-minute segment, just click this link: To learn more about Animal Wise Radio, visit their website here.

Local radio station KUT also interviewed Ryan in a story about Austin's shelter adoptions. You can listen to their brief interview here:

You can help Austin's homeless pets too!

1. Listen to the radio segments and tell your friends about them.

2. Tell the City Council to implement the no-kill method at Austin's animal shelter by clicking here.

3. Donate to's no-kill efforts by clicking here. All donations over $50 get a free t-shirt!

Thanks and best regards!

The Team

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Austin Pets Alive! Resource Center: The Future of Austin's Pound?

We're delighted to tell you about an amazing new program in Austin. Dr. Ellen Jefferson, founder of Emancipet (Austin's lost-cost spay-neuter provider) is taking on a new project: creating a Resource Center that will keep pets in homes, redirect pets away from Austin's pound, and remove animals from Austin's pound before they are killed. We believe that if anyone can pull this off, it's Dr. Jefferson. Please wholeheartedly support her new effort to reduce the killing of Austin's pets. Here is a recent letter from Dr. Jefferson about her new endeavor:

Dear Austin,

How is it possible that a city like Austin is still killing over 50% of the animals in it's shelters?

ImageIt is unbelievable but true: dogs and cats just like yours and mine are still dying in Austin.

Just today I read about a young husky mix with a wonderful temperament and good behavior, who will likely get euthanized because he won't be given the opportunity to get adopted.

I am tired of being heartbroken every day for these animals wishing I could do something more for them. Aren't you?

For those of you that don't know me, I founded EmanciPET Spay/Neuter Clinic in 1999 because I believed that spay/neuter was the only answer to the problem of too many pets being euthanized in our animal shelters. I still believe that spay/neuter is an integral piece if the No Kill recipe. EmanciPET is doing a great job getting over 80,000 animals fixed in and around Austin. However, I no longer believe that it is the only piece needed to create a No Kill city. One reason is that there are now statistics that show that there are many more homes available for a new pet each year than the number of animals we kill in animal shelters. Spay/neuter is still a cornerstone but there is more that needs to be done.

As I have gotten to know the shelter system better over the years, I have come to realize that a community like Austin could have a shelter that does better in terms of life saving. Does that mean that I think Town Lake Animal Center is bad? No, I actually think that the fact that the city funded shelter is charged with animal control rather than animal welfare makes it impossible for our city to think in terms of "no kill". Austin is lucky enough to have a Humane Society that saves about 2500 animals a year. While this is definitely admirable, we need more animals saved.

I recently joined Austin Pets Alive! as President because I don't want to wait for our city government to change the mission of TLAC. I don't want to wait the years it will take to build a new city shelter that might be able to save more animals. I am not the only one that doesn't want to wait- the 13,000+ pets killed each year don't want to wait either. I believe Austin Pets Alive! is the organization that can make this happen.

Austin Pets Alive!'s mission is to promote and provide the resources, education and programs needed to eliminate the killing of companion animals in Austin. APA! has been creating smaller safety nets for pets for 10 years. With that mission in mind and the massive amount of work that needs to occur to get Austin to No Kill, I am asking you to help Austin Pets Alive! create a facility that can temporarily shelter all the animals that need our care so they don't have to go to TLAC. Help us create the facility that will implement life saving programs. The Austin Pets Alive! Resource Center will focus on prevention, retention, and adoption with innovative, efficient, and most importantly life-focused procedures.

Please join me in solving this problem NOW. We can do it. Our organization is run solely by dedicated volunteers. The amount of time and energy our dedicated volunteers are spending on this project is astounding. We need more people to help. If we all pitch in, I have no doubt that Austin, over every other place in America, can become No Kill in a very short period of time.

I am bringing to the table the background and expertise to implement the operations. I need you to help APA! by donating for a building, volunteering to help implement these life saving programs NOW, and spreading the word so that all of Austin knows about our plans. There is hope for these pets, we just have to unite and make it happen. Let's stop the daily killing of 30+ animals at our shelters.

Ellen Jefferson, DVM
Austin Pets Alive! President

PS With as little as a $50 donation, we can save one animal today and find it a new home using our PASS program (read below). With a bigger donation, we can continue to grow our fund to move into a facility where we can actually shelter animals and not rely solely on foster homes.

Read about some of the programs that are already in place with Austin Pets Alive!:

1. Positive Alternatives to Shelter Surrender- a program run entirely on foster/volunteer time that gives owners a chance to place their pet using our adoption locations such as PetSmart and Petco. This creates outlets so animals don't have to go to TLAC where they will likely die.

2. Thanks to APA! and the working relationship we have with Town Lake Animal Center, the TLAC long-stay adoption dogs get a chance at off site adoptions before their time is up. We are able to take these animals, that would be euthanized due to time constraints, out to get adopted.

3. Rescue- due to the wonderful (but very few so far) foster homes we have, we have been able to take puppies and dogs from TLAC that would normally be euthanized for minor skin problems. Our foster homes give them the time they need (we provide the medications) and they are good to go in as little as 2 weeks (and highly adoptable!). We know that by choosing animals that would be slated for euthanasia, we can decrease the number of animals killed at TLAC.

Just imagine how many animals Austin Pets Alive! could save with a facility!

Click here to get involved!

As city council elections are pending, please think about getting out to vote.
Laura Morrison and Randi Shade both took time out of their incredibly busy schedules to come hear about Austin Pets Alive! last night. I am truly amazed that they found this to be a high enough priority to listen with the election so close. They both are concerned about Austin's animals and want to see Austin be a leader in the animal world.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Mandatory Spay/Neuter Success? Not Remotely

One of the methods proposed to reduce shelter killing in Austin is a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance. As you may already know, the nation's leading shelter expert, Nathan Winograd, has repeatedly written that such ordinances do not work. See, e.g.,

Nonetheless, a very vocal supporter of mandatory spay/neuter ordinances in Austin has touted King County, Washington, as proof that mandatory spay/neuter ordinances work. Specifically, he reports that King County has a 0% kill rate, and provides this website as evidence: . I decided to take a look to judge for myself.

What I found is that the actual statistics from King County's website reveal not success, but instead a common shelter-management lie: by labeling all killed animals "unadoptable," King County is able to report a 0% kill rate of adoptable animals. Meanwhile, its shelter continues to kill 40-50% of the animals it takes in each and every year. If we use that standard, then basically every shelter in the country is successful and wonderful because they are able to define away their killing by calling all animals they kill "unadoptable."

In fact, if we use King County's formula for calculating a kill rate--- that the relevant figure is the percentage of "unadoptable" animals killed, then Town Lake Animal Center too has a 0% kill rate because TLAC (like King County) defines all animals it kills as "unadoptable." Thus, using the same logic, TLAC is a shining example of perfection in animal care WITHOUT a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance-- even though it too kills roughly half of the animals it takes in each and every year.

In truth, neither King County nor Austin is an example of success. They both kill about 50% of homeless pets each year. That's because neither a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance nor TLAC's management has succeeded in ending the killing. On the other hand, every shelter that has fully adopted Nathan Winograd's methods HAS ended the killing. Here is a link to his method: .

In Winograd-led Charlottesville, Reno, Ithaca, Ivans County (UT), and Orange County (VA), open-admission municipal pounds are killing less than 10% of ALL animals. And in Winograd-led Philadelphia, where the kill rate was 90% just three years ago, they are expecting a 20% kill rate in 2008.

In King County, on the other hand, they are generally killing 40-50% of all animals. That puts King County in the same category as Austin. Here are King County's kill figures:

2006: Total Killed (4331) / (Total Disposition (11259) - Dead on Arrival (381)) = 40%

2005: 4666 / (11990 - 392) = 40%

2004: 5436 / (12413 - 437) = 45%

2003: 5935 / (12701 - 493) = 49%

2002: 6142 / (13649 - 660) = 47%

2001: 6300 / (14588 - 983) = 46%

2000: 6069 / (14735 - 1336) = 45%

1999: 6061 / (14640 - 1378) = 46%

1998: 6432 / (14743 - 1318) = 48%

These figures clearly demonstrate that a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance is not the answer to Austin's animal-killing problem. The real solution is to adopt the methods of the cities that have ended shelter killing--- not those who have failed to end shelter killing. If we are serious about saving animals, we have but one choice: adopt the Nathan Winograd method in full.