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Austin Animal Center is restricting intake because its kenels are full

Tuesday, September 13, 2022 by Marisa Charpentier, KUT

Austin Animal Center is temporarily restricting intake starting Tuesday because the shelter is over capacity. The city-owned animal shelter is urging people to help by fostering or adopting pets from the shelter.

The shelter currently has more than 700 animals, including 67 dogs that are staying in pop-up wire crates because all other kennels are full.

To help with the problem, the shelter is waiving adoption fees and hosting a Clear the Crates event on Saturday. Beginning at 10 a.m., people can view dogs available for adoption on the shelter’s front lawn.

“Shelters nationwide are struggling,” Assistant City Manager Stephanie Hayden-Howard said in a press release. “We really need community members to foster or adopt a dog. Maintaining our no-kill status takes a village, and our city shelter can’t do it without you.”

The Austin Animal Center became a no-kill shelter in 2011, meaning more than 90 percent of its animals are not euthanized. According to a memo from the city’s Animal Services Office, 97.3 percent of the animals that arrive at the shelter are returned to their owners, adopted or transferred out. This is the third time in its history the shelter has had to stop accepting new animals, according to the city. The most recent time was in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Starting Tuesday, the shelter will take in animals only in emergency situations, such as if the animal is injured or presents a risk to public safety.

“We are temporarily restricting intake now to ensure we can continue to provide the level of animal care that our community expects,” Chief Animal Services Officer Don Bland said in the release. “When all animals in our care can be placed in regular kennels instead of relying on temporary pop-up crates, we can fully open again.”

According to Monday’s memo, Animal Center staffers have been making efforts to avoid restricting intake, including holding adoption events, waiving fees and posting pleas for fosters, but more animals keep coming to the shelter than staff can keep up with.

“Since January 1, 2022, AAC has taken in 1,055 more dogs and cats than have been adopted or placed in foster homes,” the memo said. “An average of 28 more dogs arrives each week and, in August alone, AAC took in 121 more animals than were reclaimed, adopted, fostered, or rescued.”

Austinites who encounter an injured animal should call 311 and ask to speak with an animal protection officer, the city says. Do not bring the animal to the shelter. If you find a loose pet who is not injured, the city says to review its Pet Reunification Guide for what to do.

Austin Animal Center is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. It will reopen Sundays starting Sept. 25.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

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