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Animal services programs missing from city strategic planning

Monday, November 21, 2022 by Nina Hernandez

The Animal Advisory Commission is asking the city manager’s office to include animal services programming in its upcoming strategic plan.

At its regular meeting Nov. 14, the commission voted to approve a letter asking City Manager Spencer Cronk and Chief Financial Officer Ed Van Eenoo to include animal services and wildlife protection in the upcoming strategic development 2028 plan.

Chair Craig Nazor said the commission and animal center staff found the city’s last report lacking. “I read it and they talk about all these great programs the city has, but … they did not mention any of the great programs we have for animals in Austin.”

The letter notes the oversight and asks the city manager’s office to remedy it going forward. “There is a tremendous amount of hard work done every day of the year for the animals of Austin by shelter staff, supported by the hard work of many Austin citizens who volunteer their time and donate their money to help make the lives of Austin’s companion and wild animals better,” it reads.

Programs the commission would like mentioned in the plan include spay/neuter, microchips and rabies clinics. The letter notes that departments throughout the city, including the Austin Police Department, take part in the work of creating “the best no-kill shelter in the world.”

City Council adopted the Strategic Direction 2023 plan in the spring of 2018. Intended to guide the city’s policy actions over the next three to five years, the plan is based around six priority strategic outcomes: economic opportunity and affordability, mobility, safety, health and environment, culture and lifelong learning, and government that works for all.

For each strategic outcome, the plan identifies challenges the city faces and possible metrics for measuring growth in those areas over time. The plan does not mention any outcomes related to animal services. In its health and environment section, one of the potential strategies proposes expanded acquisition and designation of permanently protected natural and environmentally sensitive areas, including wildlife habitats.

“We recommend that the city of Austin include information about our many programs for Austin citizens and their companion animals, as well as all of Austin’s valuable and iconic wildlife, in the upcoming Strategic Development 2028 plan,” commissioners wrote.

The commission had taken up the item at a prior meeting, but the letter required editing before it could be formally approved. Nazor explained that the initial draft language asked them to include mention of the Animal Services Department itself. The strategic direction format, however, focuses on outcomes that can be achieved through collaboration across city departments.

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