Austin Animal Center limits ER admission only due to overcrowding

The Austin Animal Center says they must make the difficult decision to turn away people who bring lost and healthy animals to their facility because of their growing capacity issues.

Mary Brown of the Austin Animal Center describes the Austin City Animal Shelter as a rollercoaster in terms of the amount of animals they care for versus the amount of space they have.

“Just having the stress of thinking we’re back to where we started, where do we go from here? It can feel hopeless at times,” Brown said.

Currently, the Austin Animal Center must limit animal intake to emergencies only. This is because they are over capacity for all the animals and they don’t have room until they can get enough adoptions to bring those numbers down.

“We house medium to large dogs in crates in our conference room. There are dogs that are housed in our hallways that are also in crates, and then we actually start going into negative space with our little dogs and even our cats at this point,” Brown said.

For this reason, the animal shelter must refuse the public when bringing back lost animals.

“When people pick up animals, they think they are helping. They bring them here where [the animals] are much less likely to return to their masters and then, because we are in the space challenge, and we have fewer adopters arriving, this animal starts to stay here longer at the shelter, and that is extremely stressful for an animal to be here at the shelter,” Brown said.

So while the animal center remains in emergency outlets only, they are calling on the public to try and do their part to help these animals. Brown says many lost pets are only a few blocks from their home, so before taking them to the shelter, check to see if they have a tag with the owner’s contact information or see if they’re microchipped. You can also post the lost pet on social media or even go door-to-door.

“Being able to take all of these steps first really helps us because most of the time the animals are usually reunited within hours or even days,” she said.

At this time, Brown says bringing a lost, healthy pet to the Austin Animal Center should be your last resort due to current capacity issues. However, the shelter will provide the public with supplies to temporarily house the lost animal until they are reunited or rehomed.

“We generally try to provide members of the public with as many supplies as possible if they’re willing to keep a pet in their home,” she said.

The Austin Animal Center will host an adoption called “Black Furiday” on November 25 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at their facility.

Benjamin M. Yerger