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.