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Updated: Coronavirus shutters Austin Animal Center, but shelter still desperately needs fosters

Friday, March 20, 2020 by Nina Hernandez

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect daily life in Travis County with the closure of the Austin Animal Center.

AAC announced on its Facebook page Monday that it would close to the public, effective immediately, and not reopen until March 30 at least. The closure includes volunteers who walk dogs and perform other duties around the shelter.

The center will not be taking any new animals into the facility, though owners can still facilitate retrieving lost pets by calling 311. Animal protection officers will continue responding to calls, prioritizing those involving rabies quarantine, bite investigations, and aggressive or injured animals.

Austin fire stations and recreation centers will not be able to scan for microchips during this time, so any stray pets should be taken to a veterinarian, pet store or emergency animal hospital for scanning.

AAC is suspending adoptions during the pandemic, though still accepting applications for emergency fosters. AAC is currently home to 466 animals on-site, and the center hopes to get at least half of them into foster homes during the closure. Sign up to be an emergency on-call foster for Austin Animal Center by emailing

Austin Pets Alive! has so far declined to shut its doors and is still operating at regular hours as of publication. announced it would be scheduling adoptions by appointment only as of Saturday, March 20. APA director Ellen Jefferson announced the changes on Facebook in a video post.

“We’re really changing almost all of our procedures – it’s been a very onerous process,” said Jefferson. “We’ve had so much positive support from the community.”

Jefferson said the organization is doing curbside foster pickups, working to shut down its lobby and closing the on-site clinic.

“It would be catastrophic if we lost our clinic staff,” she said.

She thanked the community for its support and emphasized that the organization will continue to need help from the public.

“We’re still looking for those foster homes that are available for dogs,” Jefferson said. “On the dog side, we’re looking for (foster homes) that have no kids, no pets and have a yard. So that they can take some of our more challenging dogs, meaning that the dogs need more from their people than a regular dog.”

On the cat side: “We need lots of regular cat fosters, and we also need kitten fosters, especially neonatal kittens, the ones that need to be bottle-fed. We still need those fosters to sign up.”

Learn more about fostering for dogs here and cats here.

Both the Austin Animal Center and Austin Pets Alive! have been inundated with foster applications. Jefferson asked the community for patience as they match homes and animals. “Things are going OK right now,” she said.

Photo by SteelMaster Buildings made available through a Creative Commons license.

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