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.