Saving animals from the grassroots up

November 30, 2009 at 6:45 pm Leave a comment

Happy & RyanDespite being one of the most progressive cities in America politically, Austin’s animal control policies and programs were anything but. In 2004, almost 13,000 animals died at its Town Lake Animal Center, more than half the animals that came in its doors. And in the years that followed, Austin’s kill rate continued to increase, despite the fact that its intake stayed around the same and  Austin is a prosperous and animal-loving town.

In 2007, Austin killed more than 14,000 homeless pets. In 2008, Austin Pets Alive started pulling pets off of death row and finding homes for them, reaching a total of 2,741 by late 2009. Along with, a group dedicated to reforming the entire shelter and animal control system in the city, this networker of rescuers, animal lovers and advocates conducted a guerilla campaign aimed at local media and the city council, working to get the city on track.

And it worked. Last month, the Austin City Council laid down the law to its animal control agency, and told it to get with the no kill goal by implementing large-scale foster programs, off-site adoptions, TNR for feral cats, and all the other programs that have reduced or ended the killing of healthy and treatable dogs and cats in other communities.

Helping lead that successful effort was Ryan Clinton of I saw Ryan speak at the No Kill Conference in Washington DC last May, and was blown away by his honesty and willingness to share what worked, what failed (sometimes quite spectacularly), and how other communities could — and are — doing the exact same thing. is launching a series of special guest chats on the topic of “Ending Pet Homelessness,” and I couldn’t think of a better person to get that series started than Ryan. He’ll be online for an hour-long Q&A session on “Saving Your Community’s Animals from the Grassroots Up” this evening, Monday, November 30 at 10 PM Eastern/7 PM Pacific Time in the Auditorium Chat Room (or, if you’re not a registered user of, you can log in here as a guest — just select “Auditorum — Special Events” from the menu).

He’ll be discussing how to work with the media and politicians (and how not to), and how “the little guy” can effect big change for the animals, even against enormous obstacles.

Hope to see you there!…

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