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Gimme Shelter: 'No Kill' Has New Animal Center Straining

Like a rolling stone: A puppy at the Austin Animal Center shortly after its opening last year.
Like a rolling stone: A puppy at the Austin Animal Center shortly after its opening last year.

The Austin Animal Shelter, which opened last November, already has more animals than it can hold. The city says it’s taken in about 140 more pets than this time last year, and is adopting out fewer animals.

But why does the newly built Austin Animal Center have less space than the Town Lake Animal Center, the city’s former shelter?  

City spokeswoman Patricia Fraga says when the Austin Animal Center was designed three years ago, organizers didn’t take into account that Austin would be a “no kill” city. “So, what’s happening now is we’re keeping animals longer,” Fraga says. “We’re not euthanizing animals for space, so we have animals that are living at the shelter longer than they would have previously.”

Austin implemented its “no kill” policy in March of 2010, after months of community debate. The new shelter broke ground in May of that year.

The city wants the community to help figure out how to handle the animals. Fraga says one option is setting up facilities throughout the city where animals could be housed temporarily. But a bond to build more shelter space is not on the table right now.

Some overflow pets are already being housed in a portion of the Town Lake Animal Center, which is being run by Austin Pets Alive.  The city council will vote May 24 on whether to give APA use of the entire Town Lake site.

In related news, the Town Lake Animal Center suffered a break-in this weekend.

Burglars broke in to the building Sunday morning and stole hundreds of dollars in donations from Austin Pets Alive.

The organization says since news of the burglary became public, many people have come forward to make up for the stolen cash.

At last update, Austin Police did not have any suspects in the burglary.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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