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Austin Pets Alive! | Way forward for APA!: Historical past of No Kill Austin and…

Aug 27, 2021

Because the second installment in a brief collection of letters meant to tell you of APA!’s relationship with the Metropolis of Austin, we wished to convey you on top of things on the City Lake Animal Middle (TLAC) property and the way it impacts the renegotiation of our license settlement to function APA!.

Constructed within the Nineteen Fifties, the TLAC facility was an enormous enchancment over what existed earlier than, which was a construction someplace in Austin that held all of the animals in an enormous concrete pen with out satisfactory meals and water till they had been all shot, in entrance of an viewers, when their time was up. The start of sheltering in Austin, as in the whole United States, was rooted within the concern of a nationwide pandemic of Rabies.

Austin American Statesman, 1951
Austin American Statesman, 1956, laying the pad for the unique Ringworm facility and the unique Constructing C

As such, from 1950 all the best way till 2008, the intention of housing the animals was by no means to save lots of all of them or any p.c near that. The unique function of this facility, the truth is, was to proceed ridding Austin of canines and cats who didn’t have house owners with the means to reclaim them. TLAC and the buildings that also stand right this moment function an necessary reminder for all of us of a previous that we by no means need to return to.

Austin American Statesman, 1977, when TLAC was occupied by the Humane Society

In 2007, the town made the choice to vacate TLAC and launched into hiring an architect to construct a brand new shelter in East Austin. There was numerous controversy over the deliberate transfer as a result of it will contain eradicating misplaced and homeless animals from downtown Austin. The issues had been threefold:

  • A scarcity of visibility would result in extra deaths (now substantiated by the business market). Then mayor, Lee Leffingwell, compromised, promising the residents of Austin there would all the time be an adoption middle at TLAC, even after the transfer.
  • The brand new shelter had fewer kennels than TLAC. Employees asserted that extra animals might be co-housed on the new shelter so it truly served the identical variety of pets. Sadly, on the time, virtually all huge canines had been being killed so co-housing was solely supposed for little canines.
  • The addition on the new website of an enormous incinerator so the pets who had been killed would now not should be despatched to the town dump in massive truck fulls. Fortunately, this was struck from the ultimate plans as a result of it was an enormous expense for a observe that was going to cease.

Ultimately, the brand new shelter was accepted and slated to open in mid 2011 with the understanding that the previous TLAC facility, already in disrepair, could be demolished.

By 2008, APA! began rescue work and started pulling animals from the TLAC euthanasia checklist in order that we might make a measurable influence on the stay launch charge within the Metropolis of Austin. Our objective was to make Austin a No Kill Metropolis as quick as humanly potential. Presently, the town was at solely a forty five% stay launch charge with 10,000 to 14,000 animals dying yearly. APA! volunteers confirmed up every single day to see the animals listed to be killed by 11:30am the next morning, and pull as many as we might into foster houses.

By 2010, when Austin had a 72% stay launch charge (largely up due to APA!), the town council, championed by Mike Martinez and Laura Morrison and on the advice of the Animal Advisory Fee, voted to formally make Austin a No Kill Metropolis with a objective of a 90% stay launch. Within the No Kill Implementation Plan that was handed with this vote, a bit included protecting open an adoption middle at TLAC, particularly by utilizing the Davenport Constructing (TLAC’s foremost admin constructing), after the town shelter moved to its new location. In fact, we already had our eye on utilizing TLAC as our future facility although we heard from Council places of work we had a 0% probability of getting it.

By 2011, the yr of the town shelter transfer, APA! helped the town obtain an 89% stay launch charge. And now we had been overtly advocating for taking on the previous shelter (TLAC) in order that we might proceed to assist Austin and have a constructing for our group.

Surprisingly, APA! needed to overcome large obstacles to have the ability to occupy TLAC, although it was empty and although we had been the driving force of No Kill. The town had plans to tear it down, because of the dilapidated circumstances that existed properly earlier than we began rescue. The town couldn’t promote it or use it to construct something apart from a park or animal shelter since it’s devoted park land with a grandfather clause for animals. On the time, we had a rocky relationship with the town shelter employees because of the nature of how we supported them, by pulling animals off the euthanasia checklist reasonably than taking animals they wished us to take who could or could not ever have been in peril of euthanasia. Though we had been awarded the momentary use of TLAC, that relationship made it very exhausting to maintain Lamar Beach for animals, even after we moved in.

In 2017, metropolis council voted, this time championed by council members Kathie Tovo, Leslie Pool, Alison Alter, Steve Adler, Greg Casar to permit APA! to rebuild at TLAC and keep for 75 years, basing future plans on a doc known as the Lamar Beach Master Plan, that confirmed the overall area we might occupy and what our buildings would possibly appear to be.

Basically, in Part II of the grasp plan, with an unknown timeline, Cesar Chavez could be moved away from the lake and cross proper by our present footprint. To accommodate that, APA! wanted to maneuver again in the direction of the YMCA and the railroad observe. In that vote, the council directed metropolis employees to “negotiate and execute” the 75 yr settlement over the following 4 years.

You is perhaps considering, who would need to construct once we are sandwiched between Cesar Chavez and the railroad tracks? We’d! We had seemed for different property all through Austin however confronted neighborhood overlays which have a blanket clause requiring kennels to be voted on by the neighborhood. That was a painful and exhausting course of and it was clear the one neighborhood in Austin that wished us was the one proper round TLAC. With the neighborhood restrictions all through the Metropolis of Austin, we confronted discovering a property outdoors the town limits which might eradicate visibility of our necessary work. On the time, we deserted the thought of an alternate location.

We started these negotiations, positive about our skill to rebuild primarily based on the Grasp Plan, and anticipated to get to the 75 yr contract signing rapidly. Nevertheless, as quickly because the surveyors and designers received busy, it was made clear to us that land points would halt quick plans to fundraise and enhance the shelter amenities at TLAC. These points are detailed beneath:

  1. The facility strains over us are the heaviest obligation kind of transmission energy line there may be, that means they can’t be buried. We labored exhausting with Austin Power and there’s no approach round them. Nothing will be constructed on 30 ft of both facet of them. We’ve got TWO units that run from one facet to the opposite, eliminating over 120 ft of buildable area in a longitudinal part.
    1. We’ve got broached the topic of heavy renovations underneath the ability strains for the reason that energy strains had been raised after our buildings had been constructed, however Austin Power has assured us that any website plan request that comes by for renovation can be denied as a result of they imagine it’s in our greatest curiosity to get out from underneath the strains.
  2. There’s a 72” water foremost that runs from the railroad tracks all the way down to Cesar Chavez that can’t be constructed over and can’t be moved.
  3. The railroad hill is partially owned by the railroad firm and would price $1M to buy every of two small chunks that might be technically on our property.
  4. The floodplain is outdoors the land we might be constructing on nevertheless it prevents us from shifting our footprint anyplace else on the land and going by the method of demanding that the grasp plan be reviewed once more.
  5. The property identified to us because the “Y Discipline” within the northeast nook behind us, is the place we might be pushed to and it’s presently owned by YMCA. To ensure that us to realize formal entry to it, the Y and the town have to complete the settlement that requires the town to construct a parking storage on Y property, nearer to Cesar Chavez. The standing of that is unclear, holding up our skill to formally attain the Y discipline that might be wanted for us to construct on.
  6. There are numerous heritage bushes on the property that we don’t need to hurt and that might be fairly costly to maneuver.

After years of dialogue with many metropolis departments that management the entities above, it’s clear that no matter area we have now left at TLAC will doubtless be a fourth to a 3rd of the scale of the footprint we use right this moment.

In consequence, we imagine we have now no alternative however to buy one other property, hopefully to be used along with TLAC, to be able to serve our full mission. This may show troublesome due to the neighborhood restrictions that exist in seemingly each neighborhood inside the metropolis limits. We’re presently pursuing all leads on land inside half-hour of downtown Austin for what we hope is finally a satellite tv for pc facility.

So what does that should do with the negotiation of our license settlement? It implies that after years of dialogue with many metropolis departments, we have now come to be taught no matter area we have now left at TLAC will doubtless be only a quarter to 3rd of the footprint we use right this moment. We’re bitterly dissatisfied with this final result and imagine we have now no alternative however so as to add a second website as a result of the town can’t fulfill all of our land wants as we as soon as thought. The underside line is the thousands and thousands of {dollars} our non-profit group supplies in lifesaving companies to the Metropolis of Austin yearly, and can spend constructing on the website, far exceeds the worth of getting free land to construct upon.

I need to be clear, we nonetheless need to rebuild no matter we will at TLAC as a result of we imagine the additional price to us is value it for our mission and for Austin. We all know it’s obligatory for pets to be entrance and middle in our metropolis and if we depart, TLAC won’t ever be used to assist animals once more. We all know our metropolis believes in No Kill as one in every of its core group ideas. Our imaginative and prescient for the way forward for this land is to make use of it to indicate the world that No Kill is a crown jewel of Austin. It ought to function a Phoenix, rising from the ashes of the five hundred,000 pets that needlessly misplaced their lives at this website over the past 70 years, and be an indication that historical past won’t ever repeat itself on Austin’s watch once more.

We’ll proceed to maintain you up to date on these issues and hope you, as one in every of our valued supporters, will assist advocate for protecting the TLAC property for the animals after this brief letter collection ends. We’ll proceed to search for new property no matter what occurs at TLAC and recognize the leads our supporters ship us. Should you assume you may need a land result in ship our approach, you could find particulars of what we’re on the lookout for here.

As all the time, we’re grateful for the help you’ve got proven to APA! employees and to the pets which can be relying on us. If our historical past has taught us something, it’s that Austin believes within the worth that animals convey to all of our lives and expects us to do every part we will to save lots of them. Thanks for becoming a member of us and committing a lot to this mission.


Ellen Jefferson, DVM
President and CEO
Austin Pets Alive!/American Pets Alive!

Learn the earlier submit on this collection here.

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