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South Korean veterinarians learn from country's largest no-kill shelter in Austin

Veterinarians from South Korea visited Austin to learn best practices from the largest no-kill shelter in the nation -- Austin Animal Center.

AUSTIN — South Korean veterinarians are in Austin this week to observe and learn best practices from America's largest no-kill shelter in the country.

The Austin Animal Center has held the status since 2011, roughly saving 116,300 dogs and cats.

Interim Chief of Animal Services Officer, Lee Ann Shenefiel, said the save rate for 2018 hovers between 98 to 99 percent.

"It's made possible because the community cares," Shenefiel said.

Such impressive numbers regularly attract domestic and international attention. Shenefiel said representatives from Mexico, New Zealand and Australia have inquired about how Austin goes about achieving such a high save rate.

"It's a very big deal and I think one of the things that Austin should be very proud about when looking at that number is that it represents a community effort. It's rescue groups stepping up to save animals with behavioral challenges and medical conditions, it's the community committing to adopting and volunteering and fostering," said Shenefiel.

Through a translator, the vets said they hope to transform Seoul into a no-kill city as soon as possible.

"We're hoping to learn as much as we can so they can implement the same or modify our own so that we can find the better life for animals," said Dr. Seung Jin Park.

The South Korean veterinarians said their love of animals only started in the 2000s. They said the euthanasia rate in Seoul is currently 25 to 30 percent, with 9,000 stray animals.

"So it's about the changing culture, so it's very new for Korea," said Dr. Ming Yun.

"The biggest goals we have is to find the stray animals owners and reduce the euthanasia rate," said Dr. Park.

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