Austin Animal Center requests more employees to maintain no-kill - | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Austin Animal Center requests more employees to maintain no-kill status

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The Animal Center has been at capacity almost continuously since it opened. It appears that the city may have underestimated how much it would take to care for all those animals in order to maintain ‘no kill' status.

The Garcia's are getting ready to take home the newest member of their family, Max. They know the Austin Animal Center is often overrun with pets and would adopt more if they could.

"They don't have anyone other than us to help them, it's our job to help other animals," said Albert Garcia.

Each year, the center handles close to 20,000 animals and since city leaders voted to make Austin a no-kill city in 2010, the center does whatever it can to keep those animals alive.

"Of those 20,000 animals, more than 90 percent are going through the system, they're getting preventative care, spay/neuter surgery, any kind of medical attention they need," said Chief Animal Services Officer Abigail Smith. She tells FOX 7 that the 95 budgeted employees have more work than they can handle.

"We've got an animal care staff responsible for cleaning and average of 500 residents' cages a day. Customer service has really had to step up their program to facilitate 30 percent more live outcomes."

So, the center has had to bring on temporary employees and Smith says 14 permanent employees are needed for a cost of $714,000.

Each year, thousands of animals are transferred to the center's rescue partners like Austin Pets Alive. It's a collaborative effort to keep Austin a no-kill city.

"I don't think anyone in this community wants to go back to the way we did things and what we know now three years later is this is the level of resources that are required right now," she said.

Austin City Council member Mike Martinez has been an advocate for Austin's no-kill status. He sent FOX 7 this statement regarding Austin Animal Services' budget requests:

"Supporting our no-kill policy is something that I, along with the rest of the council, have clearly demonstrated is a priority. However, it would be premature to make any commitments regarding budget requests that have not been formerly presented to the City Council by the City Manager."

The city is expected to adopt the FY2014 budget in September.

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