Austin Animal Center’s December Report Looks Brilliant

Thursday January 14th, 2021 by Sean Saldaña

The Animal Advisory Board met on January 11 to discuss, among other things, the achievements of the Austin Animal Center as of the end of 2020.

One of the recent highlights has been the introduction of a new chatbot designed to answer questions residents may have about the services provided by the shelter.

“Since its inception, 3,800 people have used the chat feature,” said Don Bland, Director of Animal Services, adding that “93% of those inquiries were resolved without someone having to speak to them on the phone.”

He then pointed to the recent addition of a text feature that provides information about pet services.

“If you find an animal or if you lose an animal, you can text. It’s on our website and it will give you relevant information, give you links, and that’s a lot of information that you can get very quickly without talking to a human,” Bland said.

Since the city entered Stage 5 of the Covid-19 risk-based guidelines in December, the organization has transitioned to virtual adoptions, but that hasn’t stopped them from finding homes for the pets. A group of volunteers called the Chameleon Club has helped boost virtual adoption efforts by uploading pet photos, videos and biographies, providing potential owners with plenty of information before any in-person interactions.

In December alone, the shelter facilitated more than 500 cat and dog adoptions, and more than 100 lost animals were reunited with their guardians.

The organization plans to continue exploring additional resources to help reunite pets with their families.

Describing the center’s efforts, Bland said, “There are a lot of resources that have little to no cost that we add to our website. Anything we can do to help an animal get home, we try to do.

The animals at the center also had a happy holiday season. The report details that “volunteers ensured a very Merry Christmas for the animals at the shelter by handing out socks to each animal, hanging them in their kennels, and handing out Christmas treats on Christmas Eve.”

With 757 admissions, the center reached its lowest level in three years for the month of December. In 2019, there were 1,142 total pets and in 2018, 1,091 total pets were cared for.

Another achievement the shelter can boast of is its high live release rate, a figure that represents the percentage of animals that leave the facility alive. Last month, the center recorded a live release rate of more than 98% for dogs and cats, a continuation of a trend that began in 2011.

The Austin Animal Center also continues to enjoy strong community support. Last month, the shelter had 81 volunteers who volunteered more than 1,400 collective hours “cleaning the cat kennel, socializing, walking the dogs, recovery, treating ringworm, making beds and toys and at reception.

The center had a total of 280 pet foster families throughout December, and a total of 238 pets were adopted directly through foster families.

In conclusion, Bland said things within the organization “seem to be going really well right now.”

Photo by SteelMaster Buildings courtesy of a Creative Commons license.

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