Austin Animal Center faces questions about monthly update

Thursday May 12th, 2022 by Willow Higgins

Alongside shelters nationwide, the Austin Animal Center has struggled with staffing shortages and growing populations of shelter animals — a situation that was evident in the shelter’s monthly update to the Commission. animal advisory.

In Aprila total of 1,067 animals were brought to the shelter, while 419 were adopted and 132 cats, dogs or birds were returned to their owners.

Ninety-three dogs were transferred to three out of state rescue partners, which helps the shelter manage its capacity. Ninety-nine percent of eligible animals at the shelter were spayed or neutered in the past month; In addition, the shelter organized 27 orthopedic surgeries and 23 specialized surgeries.

The shelter made an effort, as it always does, to hire volunteers to help with the workload. In April, 278 volunteers gave 3,331 hours of service; 114 volunteers were new to the shelter.

The shelter also works closely with foster families, people who care for adoptable shelter animals in their own homes. Many animals find it difficult to cope with the noisy and stressful nature of an urban shelter. However, when placed in a private home, they come out of their shell, making these animals more likely to find adoptive forever homes. Hearths also help relieve the shelter’s lack of space when all available kennels are occupied. About 150 people fostered animals in April and more than 100 more applied to be new foster homes, bringing the number of approved foster homes to more than 800.

“One of the commenters had just talked about the need for more foster homes and in your report, there are 235 foster animals and there are 810 approved foster families. So is anything being done to try to involve the other 600 or so and take animals? asked Commissioner Lisa Mitchell.

Jason Garza of Animal Services, who presented the update to the commission, said staff members are doing their best to regularly contact approved adoptive parents and engage them, but they don’t always receive a response or the criteria. people have changed. They work to accommodate the needs of potential foster families as best they can to find animals away from the shelter.

Commissioner Ryan Clinton asked about animal deaths at the shelter he saw reported versus claims he had seen on social media.

“I know social media can be wrong, but on social media there have been reports of dog deaths in the shelter and also deaths in transport, but none of these are reported in the I was wondering if these social media reports were true, and if so, why aren’t they being reported?” Clinton asked.

Report says two kitten deaths at shelter; Garza explained that a pit bull terrier also died, a death that was not mentioned in the report due to technical or administrative issues. A total of seven shelter animals died in the past month, but only dogs and cats need to be reported.

Garza also mentioned that the shelter has provided more than 1,600 basic pet assistance items to pet parents who have requested help from the shelter. Commissioner Palmer Neuhaus asked for a more precise understanding of this type of articles.

Garza explained that it was mostly about food; the number provided also includes donations distributed by outreach staff who interact with homeless communities which may include pets.

“We provide food, crates, all kinds of supplies that individuals may need…when they say, ‘we’re considering giving this dog back because we can’t feed him,'” Garza said.

Neuhaus asked for more information in future reports on how the data points provided at the monthly meetings compare to previous measurements. Garza said staff can start incorporating additional data into their presentation for comparison.

“It’s still very difficult to assess when you say, we did X number of surgeries this month. Is it better or worse than last month? Is it better or worse than this same month of the year? Can we start getting some of this information so that when you give us your verbal report, we have comparisons to draw conclusions about what exactly it means?” Neuhaus asked.

Photo made available through a Creative Commons license.

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