**Austin, Texas is the largest no-kill community in America. Here’s my 2011 Austin Post coverage of Austin No Kill’s first anniversary at City Hall **
Almost one year after the Austin City Council approved its no-kill resolution, city leaders and animal-welfare advocates gathered at city hall to mark a milestone: A 92 percent live outcome rate at the Town Lake Animal Center (TLAC) during February.
“This is a very historic event in our city – it’s unprecedented,” said Assistant City Manager Bert Lumbreras. “We’re the first major urban city in Texas to reach a 90 percent no-kill rate.”
Achieving a 92 percent save rate means Austin has, at least for the month of February, achieved its no-kill goal – defined as a 90 percent live outcome. It is assumed that a certain percentage of animals entering the shelter will be too aggressive or sick to save.
Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez brought his black lab mix, Chucho, to the event. He said Chucho’s pregnant mother had been taken to TLAC where she was deemed unadoptable. Austin Pets Alive! (APA!) rescued her and she had puppies in foster care. Chucho was the ninth baby born.
“Chucho is a testament to what we’re talking about today,” Martinez said. “It will not be easy to sustain no-kill, but we’ll keep this goal alive and we’ll keep these animals alive.”
APA! has saved more than 7,000 animals since June 2008. Their Executive Director Ellen Jefferson praised TLAC staff for rising to the no-kill challenge – especially for effectively implementing the moratorium on euthanizing animals when there are empty kennels.
“We never doubted that if any city could reach this no-kill goal, it’s Austin,” she said.
Lisa Starr of the Austin Humane Society echoed Jefferson’s praise of TLAC staff and added that achieving and sustaining no-kill “takes a village and we need to get more people into the village.”
On March 15 Austin’s new animal services officer, Abigail Smith, will take office. She directed a no-kill shelter for the Tompkins County SPCA in Ithaca, N.Y. Among her tasks will be implementing the 7 – 8 components of the no-kill plan that haven’t yet been executed, said Larry Tucker, chairman of the city Animal Advisory Commission.
With puppy and kitten season just around the corner, animal advocates acknowledged the difficulty of maintaining February’s no-kill achievement.
“This is not a sprint – it’s a marathon,” Tucker said.