Statewide ‘No-Kill’ bill could save pets needing quick medical help

(Michael Carroll/Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine via AP)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — This month, Austin is celebrating six years as a “no-kill” city, which requires the city shelter not kill healthy pets while empty cages are available.

S.B. 1084 would allow unlicensed workers to provide basic care for pets, as long as they’re overseen by someone who is licensed.

The bill, which was to be filed on Friday, would also open the door for the “no kill” movement to reach other cities across the state. Lawmakers who wrote the bill say the laws on the books are too old and out of touch with the “no-kill” direction many cities in the state are going.

They say vets and volunteers at those shelters have different roles than traditional shelters. Many times they need to be able to give an animal quick medical attention.

To qualify as a “no kill” city shelters cannot euthanize more than 10 percent of all impounded animals. A few years ago, the State’s Veterinarian Board almost shut down the “no kill” movement. The board ruled that the shelters needed to have ownership of an animal for a number of days before volunteers could give medical care to a pet. However, without proper immediate medical attention, many animals are vulnerable to euthanization.

If passed, the bill would allow shelters — like Austin Pets Alive — to give care to animals without the pet owner’s permission. APA’s Dr. Ellen Jefferson who is in charge of animal medical services says her group would never charge medical bills to a pet owner to showed up to claim an injured runaway animal.

Sen. Kirk Waston, D-Austin and Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, wrote the bill. They say this bill makes it clear what “no-kill” shelters can do with the state supporting more of them.

“There’s really no reason we just kill these animals. These animals in the right setting with the right care — in many instances animals that wouldn’t be able to survive — will be able to survive,” Watson told KXAN. “Particularly in a place like Austin, people want that. People don’t want us euthanizing animals just because that’s the easy way to forget about them.”

“In many ways, really having something in state law that says here’s how you will handle a no-kill shelter situation, is an acknowledgment that no no-kill shelters are here to stay,” says Rodriguez.

Rodriguez says another city looking to support more “no kill” shelters is San Antonio.

KXAN reached out to the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners which responded in part, “We see this bill as an opportunity to find solutions that will benefit shelters and veterinarians while protecting the people of the State of Texas.”

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