Austin Pets Alive! faces concerns over loss of city funding

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Marisa Vasquez

Psychology junior Maria Cardenas, a volunteer for Austin Pets Alive!, adopted her dog Dash after fostering and treating the dog for parvovirus with medicine provided by the organization. Austin Pets Alive! aims to rescue animals at risk of being euthanized but a lack of city funding may affect how many animals can be admitted.

Tiffany Hinman

Austin Pets Alive! has saved more than 5,400 animals from euthanasia this year, but the organization may have a harder time rescuing animals soon because it has lost all city funding.

Austin Pets Alive! maintained its no-kill status this month without any funding from the city. While the organization will maintain its facilities and programs without city funding, Austin’s no-kill status is now threatened. In order for Austin to remain no-kill, 90 percent of all animals brought into facilities must be saved from euthanasia.

Part of what lead to the organization losing its funding from the city this month was an influx of rescued pets. Austin Pets Alive! spokesperson Laura Hoke said the city budgeted to help save 3,000 animals this year. So far, Austin Pets Alive! has taken in 5,400 animals.

“Funding has been an issue since day one,” Hoke said. “We fight every month to keep Austin no-kill. Animals continue to be born, neglected and dumped. No-kill is not a destination. It is a constant journey and monthly struggle.”

Psychology junior Maria Cardenas, a Longhorn Pets Alive! member, was volunteering for the organization when she met Dash, her newly adopted dog. Cardenas said Dash was on the euthanasia list because he was suffering from parvovirus, a cardiac and intestinal virus. Although Dash was on the euthanasia list, Austin Pets Alive! provided Cardenas with the opportunity to rescue the animal and treat him with medicine, she said.

“When I saw him I just thought he was the cutest thing I had ever seen,” Cardenas said. “The amount of work they do is ridiculous because most of the work is done by volunteers.”

During fiscal year 2011, the Austin Animal Center euthanized 1,969 animals, and Austin Pets Alive! pulled 2,774 animals from the euthanasia list, according to the organization. Hoke, the shelter’s spokesperson, said although the loss of city funding does not pose a threat to the organization as a whole, it will affect how many animals can escape euthansia and be admitted into Austin Pets Alive!

Hoke said the organization plans on lobbying for the city to restore funding so the shelter can care for 1,500 more animals in 2013 than were budgeted for this year. She said although city funding helped the organization, Austin Pets Alive! will continue to thrive on community donations.

Biology senior Helena Wayt, Longhorn Pets Alive! vice president, said Austin Pets Alive! has affected not only the Austin community, but also the UT community. Wayt said the organization provides students with opportunities to get involved with the community and volunteer.

“Austin is known for being weird and unique, and Austin Pets Alive! has definitely contributed to the city’s unique innovation,” Wayt said.

Printed on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 as: Funding Fido: influx of rescued animals continues to mount as APA! loses city funding