Austin pet shelter faces city opposition on lease renewal

FILE - Austin Pets Alive! (KXAN File Photo)
FILE - Austin Pets Alive! (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An organization that helped make Austin a no kill city when it comes to homeless animals maybe homeless itself if city council doesn’t renew their lease Thursday. That lease for Austin Pets Alive is up in May of 2015 and the non-profit is trying to renew it despite some opposition from city council members.

APA wants to negotiate a new lease for the Townlake Animal Center that allows the organization the ability to maintain the facility for the next two to five years while they work to find a permanent home. Something Marketing Manager Rebecca Reid said hasn’t been easy because a lot of neighborhoods don’t want a shelter nearby or building managers feel it could be bad for business.

“The idea from the city was if we fix the Townlake shelter then we are going to want to stay but that’s not the case because this is not the shelter we want designed for our animals, we have a neonatal unit operating out of an administration office so obviously we would like something a little more suited for our efforts,” said Reid.

However right now the group doesn’t have a plan b if the lease isn’t renewed and fears many of their programs will have to end.

“If we are kicked out of this space there are lots of programs that would probably not exist our parvo puppy ICU, our ringworm ward, the neonatal unit,” said Reid. “ Lots of things that make Austin no kill would not be in existence.”

Austin Pets Alive took over the Townlake Animal Center three years ago when the city shelter moved to a new location but the city shelter still maintains about 60 cages at Townlake for overflow.

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell said he understands that the Austin Animal Center could use all of the cages for their overflow.

“I want to find out what the advantages of having another group operate a shelter like that and would it be better served by having the city of Austin operate as an adjunct to the main shelter,” said Leffingwell.

If city council votes down the lease renewal on Thursday, Reid said Austin Pets Alive would have to immediately reduce the number of animals they pull from the euthanasia list and utilize more foster homes because they aren’t sure where they will go. Right now they find homes for about 6,000 dogs every year.

After KXAN’s story last week about Austin Pets Alive dealing with their heating system not working, Radiant Plumbing and Air Conditioning donated and installed $12,000 worth of heating equipment. The same story inspired a group called Animal Rescue Aid in Atlanta, Georgia, to send beds for the dogs, and another company is offering to work on the shelter’s roof if the lease is renewed.

“If we have permission to clean up this space and make this space more livable the community is more than willing to step up and make that happen because we are saving so many lives by doing so,” said Reid.

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