AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin Animal Center will be restricting intakes of animals to emergencies only starting Sept. 13 amid overpopulation issues.
"We're not doing intakes moving forward until we can get out of crates," Kelsey Cler, a spokesperson for the center, said. "We're only going to take in emergency cases: so that's going to be injured dogs, aggressive dogs, situations where the owner's in an emergency."
The shelter is asking for community members to once again give assistance to their overpopulation problem. During the month of August, the shelter held a "Clear the Shelters" event, wherein 63 cats and 47 dogs were adopted into new homes, but there are still too many animals within the shelter's care.
"We have several employees that have worked here for decades, and everyone agrees that this is the worst ever seen," Cler said.
AAC currently has over 700 animals, with 67 dogs living in temporary pop-up crates due to a lack of space to hold extra animals. This has led to the management team deciding to temporarily restrict intake of animals, starting Sept. 13, to an emergency-only basis. Animals who are injured or present a clear public safety risk will be taken in.
The center is one of the largest publicly-owned no-kill shelters in the country. With such an overcrowding issue, Cler noted without more adoptions and foster-matches in place, the last resort would be to reconsider that status.
"This is the end of the Hail Mary before we even get to that discussion," Cler pleaded. "Last month, we had a 97.6% outcome rate, which is well above the 95% mandate, but if we can't get these dogs out of here, even without the intake, then we need to figure out what do we value as a community."
“Shelters nationwide are struggling. We really need community members to foster or adopt a dog,” said Assistant City Manager Stephanie Hayden-Howard. “Maintaining our no-kill status takes a village, and our City shelter can’t do it without you.”
AAC is continuing to waive all adoption fees for those interested in adopting a new furry friend. A second "Clear the Crates" adoption event will be held on Sept. 17 at 10 a.m., with all adoptable dogs in a tent on the front lawn.
Only three times since the AAC has become a no-kill shelter in 2011 has it had to restrict animal intakes:
- Once in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic
- Twice in 2016 due to capacity issues
“We are temporarily restricting intake now to ensure we can continue to provide the level of animal care that our community expects,” said Chief Animal Services Officer Don Bland. “When all animals in our care can be placed in regular kennels instead of relying on temporary pop up crates, we can fully open again.”
Residents that need assistance with an injured animal are requested to take these steps before bringing them into the center:
- Contact 3-1-1 and advise the operator that you need assistance with an animal and would like to speak with an animal protection officer
- Wait for the animal protection officer to pick up the animal. Do not bring the animal to the center
- If a loose pet is found that is not injured, refer to the AAC's website.
The AAC is open to those who would like to adopt an animal or reclaim their pet Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Beginning on Sept. 25, the center will extend operational hours to include Sundays.
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