Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Austin Pets Alive! to open new location in first installment of four-phase expansion plan

Skyler Sharp
A staff member walks into the Austin Pets Alive John Davenport Building on April 10, 2024.

Austin Pets Alive! will open its new transport hub location in Elgin, Texas, on Monday after announcing plans in late March to expand to four greater-Austin locations, according to a press release. 

The hub is the latest addition to APA!’s transport program that shuttles animals from shelters with high euthanasia rates across South and Central Texas to no-kill shelters up north. The new location will welcome its first transport of 30 to 40 dogs early Monday morning, said an APA! representative in an email. Made possible through a $3.85 million grant from the Best Friends Animal Society, APA! said the hub hopes to save an additional 8,000 dogs and cats over the next three years. 

Elgin’s transport hub is only the first installment of Yes Alive!, the animal shelter’s four-phase plan to expand its facilities, which the organization seeks to raise roughly $44 million for. Because APA! does not receive any funding from the city of Austin, the organization relies on private donors and organizations, along with community support.

Lindsey Klem, a chemical engineering and pre-vet junior and a member of APA!’s Young Professionals Board, said she is excited for the organization to be able to care for more animals in need.

“They never turn away any animal and are willing to do whatever it takes to save that animal’s life,” said Klem, who frequently volunteers and fosters for the Town Lake facility. “They see the worst cases that you can imagine, and they treat and rehabilitate and save those animals.” 

Germana de Falco, a co-chair on the organization’s board of directors and UT alumna, started volunteering with the shelter in 2009 and said their ‘no-kill’ initiatives have kept her coming back. 

“The part that really inspires me is how we teach other rescues and shelters to do what we do,” said de Falco, one of the expansion’s donors. “I always look at it as what I’m donating to doesn’t just help no-kill in Austin, but helps to move the entire movement of no-kill.”

This expansion follows an approximate 20% growth in animal intake numbers and staff after the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as deteriorating conditions within the Town Lake Animal Shelter, Sanchez said. The Town Lake shelter renovation will be the final phase of the expansion. 

“The Town Lake facility just isn’t capable of housing all of us and also housing our animals in a good environment,” Sanchez said. “The focus is to be able to expand our services but also provide better quality of care.” 

The plan also includes a clinic hospital in Sunset Valley in South Austin, a rehabilitation center in East Austin and the reconstruction of the current Town Lake Animal Center location on Cesar Chavez Street following a 75-year lease agreement recently signed with the city of Austin. 

Sanchez said while many people want the organization to build a larger shelter with more kennels, they want it to become a more foster-centric shelter. 

“Really, this new expansion is the ability for us to rethink and reimagine what a shelter can look like, and we know that our shelter doesn’t look like 1,000 kennels,” Sanchez said. “It looks like a way that communities can help support the animals in their city and that we can provide a better quality of life for them.”

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