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Candidate Drops Out of Race for City Animal Shelter Boss

Just hours before a public meet-and-greet scheduled for this evening, the City of Austin announced one of the five candidates for Chief Animal Services Officer has dropped out of the race.

City spokesperson Patricia Fraga told KUT News that Abigail Smith withdrew her name for "personal reasons." As executive director of a "No Kill" shelter in Ithaca, New York, Smith was a favorite of some "No Kill" advocates.

"No Kill" shelters are those where only animals who are too sick to be rehabilitated or too aggressive to be adopted are euthanized. A euthanization rate of 10 percent would still qualify the shelter as "No Kill," because a much greater percentage of animals survive compared to conventional shelters.

"No Kill" advocates in Austin still have a champion in candidate Ellen Jefferson. Dr. Jefferson has served as the president of Austin Pets Alive! since 2008, according to a city biography. Dr Jefferson has been instrumental in getting the city to establish "No Kill" goals, but unlike Smith, she has not run a "No Kill" shelter.

A recruitment brochure from the City of Austin says challenges for the new Chief Animal Services Officer will include implementing recommendations the City Council adopted in March for reducing kill rates, and facilitating the move next year from the Town Lake Animal Center on Cesar Chavez to the new animal shelter on Levander Loop in East Austin.  

You can read about the other candidates for Chief Animal Services Officer here. Tonight's public meet-and-greet will take place at Town Lake Center (Austin Energy's office), Assembly Room No. 130, 721 Barton Springs Road from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.
Mose Buchele focuses on energy and environmental reporting at KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @mosebuchele.