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Austin Pets Alive Says It May Move Out Of Austin, Jeopardizing City's 'No-Kill' Status

Gabriel C. Pérez

Austin prides itself on being a "no-kill" city, meaning the overwhelming majority of animals that go into shelters aren't euthanized. To do that, the city partners with Austin Pets Alive, a nonprofit shelter that takes in animals the city can't because of severe overcrowding.

Austin Pets Alive is asking the Austin City Council to reconsider its contract before it expires Nov. 23. If changes aren't made, APA says, it may have to downsize, move — or leave Austin altogether.

Dr. Ellen Jefferson, APA's CEO and president, said finding a new place in the current real estate market would be tough, but the city-owned facility it uses for free along Lady Bird Lake is in desperate need of repair.

The shelter floods regularly because the plumbing is both corroded and knotted with root systems, she said.

“We can’t keep operating in this building that’s falling down and is basically unusable," she said. "We’ve been doing it for 10 years, and it’s exhausting, and we just need to move on."

APA's ability to renovate is limited, so it's pushing the city to reevaluate its Lamar Beach Project, which restricts building on the land.

APA also wants council members to amend the contract to allow it to take in animals from outside the five-county Austin area.

"Our mission always has been to take animals off the euthanasia list — from whatever shelter," Jefferson said. "Our mission is to eliminate the killing of animals in shelters."

In addition, it wants the city to commit to a longterm plan that will sustain Austin’s status as a no-kill city.

The city says it's working with APA and that it's currently meeting a city mandate that requires 95% of animals in shelters not to be euthanized. The city says last month nearly 98% of animals were saved.

"The City values its partnership with APA! and has been negotiating to ensure that that [sic] the City's investment of tax payer dollars are focused on supporting animals found in the City's jurisdiction," a spokesperson said in an email. "The City is committed to maintaining No Kill status and will continue to do so not [sic] matter the outcome of negotiations."

Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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