Nov 4, 2021 - News

Long-distance strays may be headed to Austin

A dog in a cage.

The Austin Animal Center assisted in caring for animals evacuated during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Photo: SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP via Getty Images

Stray dogs and cats from far outside the Austin area might soon be housed on city-owned land.

Driving the news: The Austin City Council is poised Thursday to order that geographic restrictions be lifted on the city's partnership with the nonprofit Austin Pets Alive.

  • Existing restrictions prevent APA, which has partnered with the city since 2011, from housing animals that come from outside five Central Texas counties — Travis, Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays and Williamson.
  • But the nonprofit wants to save animals from other areas without no-kill protections.

APA takes in stray and surrendered animals from the taxpayer-funded Austin Animal Center as part of its mission to prevent euthanizations.

  • The only pets now being euthanized have incurable medical conditions or were responsible for severe injuries in unprovoked attacks, per the Austin American-Statesman.
  • Austin Pets Alive does not get money from the city, but as part of the partnership operates a downtown shelter on city-owned land on West Caesar Chavez street.

Yes, but: The city's chief animal services officer had rejected the APA's request to lift geographic restrictions, telling the Statesman the city should focus on protecting Austin-area pets.

  • "The city's primary goal is to ensure that city taxpayer investments are focused on supporting animals found in the city's jurisdiction," he said.

Looming over the dispute, a Nov. 23 contract expiration for APA, which was threatening to leave the city — jeopardizing its high no-kill rate.

The resolution on Thursday's agenda, sponsored by four city council members and Mayor Steve Adler, lifts the constraints that APA had sought.

Our thought bubble: Following a breakdown of talks between city staff and APA earlier this year, the order from elected officials shows the political clout of APA, a visible and popular local nonprofit.


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