Aiming higher than “no-kill”

Since 2009, the City of Austin has taken heroic measures to boost adoptions of homeless dogs and cats, thereby reducing the euthanasia rate of animals that come through the shelter from about 30 percent in 2009 to about 8 percent in 2011. A huge victory, right?

The city has achieved this incredible reduction in euthanasia through a set of initiatives that include free microchipping of pets, free ID tags, new reduced cost and free spay/neuter programs, free adoptions on critical days, and partnerships with local rescues and animal advocacy organizations that are working hard to make adoption more “cool.” In 2011, Austin opened a sparkling new state-of-the-art adoption facility that is both attractive and user-friendly for adopters and more comfortable for animals.

These changes haven’t been easy, but they sure payed off: in 2011, Austin achieved the elite and sought-after status of “no-kill city” — a well-deserved honor for a city whose leadership and animal care staff and volunteers work so hard.

And yet, even though Austin has achieved this well-earned recognition, 2011 saw the euthanasia of more than 2,200 cats and 900 dogs — including more than 400 pit bull type dogs — at the city shelter.

How does this happen?

Undoubtedly, some of these 3,000+ animals were too sick to save or had irreconcilable behavioral issues. But many were just regular, adoptable cats and dogs. The problem comes down to one of math. With limited kennel space, limited resources, and limited adopters, a publicly-funded shelter like the Austin Animal Center is required to take in any animal that is brought to its doors. When the kennel runs out of space, some hard decisions have to be made.

Because of the short straw that many pit bull type dogs are dealt in life and the still-lingering sentiment among some people that pit bull dogs are somehow different than others, a disproportionate number of these hard decisions affect our lovable block-headed friends. 400 pit bull type dogs under the needle is a huge improvement from 902 just the year before, but it’s still a lot of dead dogs.

So at the same time that we are celebrating the remarkable work being done by the city to make Austin a friendlier, safer place for homeless animals, let’s not forget that while “no-kill” is an aspirational phrase, our work is far from done.

Do your part — check out Love-A-Bull’s own adoptable dogs here.

Filed under: Adopt-A-Bulls, Breed-Specific Legislation, Press Releases, Rescue

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  • Thank you for pointing this out. The first time I heard Austin was labeled “no-kill” I practically threw my hat in the air – and then I looked at the numbers. Austin, and everywhere else, will get there someday! :)

    Tamarah says:

  • Keep on educating! Our culture needs a total overhaul on how we relate to dogs (and all pets, for that matter).

    Two crucial elements of this that will continue to kill dogs until we address them (thankfully, L.A.B. does address these!)

    People buying dogs with no understanding or values of health, confirmation, and temperament. I cite the people buying them because the breeders would not breed these dogs if there were not a market for them.


    Proper handling and training, with a solid foundation at puppyhood, and also realizing that dogs of ANY age and background can learn to be obedient, no matter WHAT the behavioral problem they are struggling with.

    I believe that a large part of the path of lessening the stigma towards bully breeds is training them. At Home Depot with a friend of mine and his pit bull, an employee asked to pet Cricket, because “I’m afraid of pit bulls, but she looks really nice”. Cricket politely held a sit-stay while she received pets, and got plenty of compliments for her good behavior. At heart she is a VERY wiggly 8 month old puppy, but because of her training, she became approachable to someone who might have been afraid of an overenthusiastic (and very strong!) puppy jumping up on them.

    Keep on offering those training classes and talking to people about how backyard breeding is a no win situation! Thank you for your hard work!

  • What a wonderfully written article, thank YOU. Because of Partners like Love a Bull we are closer to becoming the humane city the animals deserve. As I walked the kennels tonight it broke my heart to see so many “pitties” in the shelter. So overbred, so misunderstood and dealt such the short straw, even in Austin. Keep fighting the good fight!

    Sarah Hammond says:

  • Very good article, sad too. But I think with people like you all that this year will be better for the pit bull dogs and the year after than better still. Keep up all the great work. People are learning that pit bull dogs are wonderful dogs.

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