This has been a tough week for Texas. As wildfires rage in Bastrop County, hundreds of homes have been destroyed and people and pets have been displaced in droves. In the midst of this tragedy, animal shelters in Bastrop and Leander have been evacuated, so No Kill groups across the state have rallied to save pets in need.
Austin Pets Alive!, Fix Austin and Williamson County Animal Services, among others, have been working tirelessly to save lives. Austin and Williamson County have both maintained a 90%+ save rate for six months and counting, and these animal loving communities are striving to maintain this goal, while still helping to re-home displaced pets.
Unfortunately, Abigail Smith, Director of Austin’s Town Lake Animal Center, has made a major misstep amidst the tragic circumstances. She attempted to transfer TLAC pets to the Houston SPCA, a well-known high kill shelter opposed by No Kill advocates in Houston and across the nation. The HSPCA lacks any transparency, and it is widely believed that their kill rate is at least 60% or above. They also have a breed discrimination policy, and refuse to adopt out any animal that even looks like a pit.
While Abigail Smith has done some incredible work in support of Austin’s No Kill efforts, that doesn’t justify this massive lapse in judgement. It appeared to the public as though she was trying to reduce her intake the easy way, and help the HSPCA obtain some free publicity (and donations) by claiming that they were caring for Bastrop rescue dogs. Killing dogs to make room for other dogs is NOT rescue. And no community with a commitment to No Kill should ever transfer animals to shelters that do not operate on the same principles – regardless of . That’s a favorite accusation from No Kill naysayers, and we need to continually demonstrate that it is not an option.
Luckily, Austinites weren’t about to let something so serious go unnoticed. Together, they rallied in support of No Kill principles, and stopped the transfer in its tracks … literally. You can read Ryan Clinton’s take on the situation here, and Nathan Winograd’s here.
The days of shelters doing their dirty work behind closed doors are ending. Taxpayers are beginning to demand that their shelters maintain transparency, and this is a wonderful development for people and animals alike. Bravo Austin. Hopefully the entire community can move forward from this and continue to work in concert to keep Austin’s homeless pets alive and well.
If you’d like to donate to helping Austin Pets Alive! in their efforts to save lives during these tragic times, please click here.