Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Abigail Smith Chosen As New Animal Shelter Boss, Begins March 15, 2011

Abigail Smith will run the Town Lake Animal Center starting March 15.
Image courtesy City of Austin
Abigail Smith will run the Town Lake Animal Center starting March 15.

No a huge surprise here; Abigail Smith was already named the lone finalist for the job. But now it's official. City Manager Marc Ott just announced he has selected the director of a no kill animal shelter in Ithaca, New York to run the Town Lake Animal Center in Austin.

Smith will face some major challenges as director of TLAC. She will oversee the transition of the shelter to a new location near Levander Loop and 183.  She'll have to implement the "no kill" plan adopted by city council last March, a strategy to have at least 90 percent animals leave the shelter alive.

The city has also said it might outsource some functions of the animal adoption program. A final decision on that is likely to come later this month.

Here's the full release from the City of Austin

City Manager Marc Ott announced today, Jan. 14, the appointment of Abigail Smith, Executive Director of the Tompkins County SPCA in Ithaca, N.Y., as Austin’s new Chief Animal Services Officer. She will begin her duties in Austin March 15. Smith is recognized nationally for her work on animal welfare issues, presenting at numerous conferences. In August 2010, she spoke at the national No Kill Conference on the topic “90% Club: Sustaining No Kill in an Open Admissions Shelter.” The City of Austin has set the 90 percent live outcome goal. “Abigail has a wealth of knowledge and experience to bring to Austin,” City Manager Ott said. “As a renowned expert in no-kill, she understands what Austin needs to do to reach its goal of becoming the first major metropolitan no-kill city. We are excited to have her join the City of Austin family and lead this very critical priority for our community.” Smith served as Executive Director for the past four years at the Tompkins County SPCA which has operated as an open-admission, no-kill shelter for the past decade. While leading the agency, Smith focused on three major initiatives: animal control contracts, fundraising and spay/neuter programs. Smith worked with Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine Program to implement a comprehensive shelter medicine program; created and strengthened collaborative partnerships, including those with civic organizations and animal rescue groups; expanded humane education programs; and secured funding for the Trap Neuter Release Program for feral cats. Before her position in Ithaca, Smith served as Director of Development/Marketing and Manager of the Volunteer Program for the New Hampshire SPCA from 2004-2007. She is a current member of the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators, the National Animal Control Association, the New York Animal Protection Federation and the Ithaca Rotary Club. She’s earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy, Pre-Medicine and English from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. Smith was chosen after a nationwide search and an extensive interview/evaluation process that included a meet-and-greet forum with the public and a site visit to Ithaca by City staff and community stakeholders. In March 2010 the City Council approved the No-Kill Implementation Plan for Austin. Since Oct. 1, 2010, the City of Austin Animal Services Office is actively working on the plan with the support of its partners and community. The City is making great strides in reaching the goal of 90 percent live outcomes, reaching 88 percent in December. Filip Gecic, who served as Acting Animal Services Officer, did not apply for the position

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.