Pets Alive – By Chealsea Hunt
Published Nov. 18, 2015
San Antonio is well on its way to surpassing Austin as the nation’s largest no-kill city, according to San Antonio Pets Alive Marketing Manager Chelsea Forman. “It’s completely within our reach, but we do still have obstacles to overcome.”
According to a 2013 report by the nonprofit database Guidestar, San Antonio Pets Alive made less than $1 million in annual donations while Austin Pets Alive made over $4 million.
This difference in profits meant a difference in the number of animals each separate branch of the organization could support.
Forman attributes this gap in revenue largely to how young San Antonio’s program still is, having only been established in January 2012.
“We’re still new and growing,” Forman said. “By 2013 Austin Pets Alive had already become a household name in their community.”
According to Forman, another major factor is the vastly different cultures of the two cities.
“Austin is a much younger, more progressive place with lots of focus on community programs,” Forman said. “San Antonio is an older, bigger city with more traditional ideas and values. The mentality of the citizens is a lot different when it comes to fixing their pets. San Antonians in general haven’t quite grasped the stray issue like Austinites have.”
Forman said that San Antonio Pets Alive plans to fix this issue by implementing some of the community programs utilized by the organization’s Austin division.
“We’re working very closely with Austin Pets Alive at the moment to kind of follow in their footsteps and learn from their successes,” Forman said.
Austin Pets Alive was founded in 2008, and by 2011 the organization’s work led to Austin being officially declared a no-kill city. According to the Austin Pets Alive official website, this means the community saves 90 percent of the adoptable animals that enter its shelters.
According to Asilomar Advanced Animal Statistics, Austin had a life release rate of nearly 99 percent in 2013. In that year, Austin Pets Alive saved nearly 3000 cats and over 3000 dogs.
Forman said that San Antonio’s live-release rate has increased from about 30 percent to 86 percent since San Antonio Pets Alive was established. In that time, more than 20,000 animals have been saved, according to the San Antonio Pets Alive website.
“Awareness is the biggest key in continuing to improve our rates,” Forman said. “Once people learn about us, they’re largely on board with what we do. Who wouldn’t want to support a cause that saves animals?”
San Antonio Pets Alive has saved over 23,000 dogs and cats in less than four years, according to Foreman.
In comparison, Austin Pets alive has saved 30,000 animals since the organization’s inception.
All of the animals rescued by these two branches of the organization were rescued directly from the euthanasia lists in each city’s respective shelters, according to Forman.
Laurie Mitchell, a 54 year old teacher from San Antonio, fostered and eventually adopted one of the dogs saved by this organization: a pitbull puppy that she named Emmett.
“He’s grown a lot since I got him,” Mitchell said. “He’s huge now, but he was a tiny little thing when the shelter had him.”
According to Mitchell, Emmett was only 3 months old when he was set to be euthanized.
“It was just because of his breed,” Mitchell said. “They thought he was the wrong kind of dog, so they tried to make space for something better.”
Amber Johnson of the Canyon Lake Animal Shelter Society said that it’s not uncommon for pitbulls to be put down in facilities that don’t adhere to no-kill standards.
“It’s sad, but when space is limited, it’s given to the animals with the best chance of being adopted,” Johnson said.
“Pitbulls are a misunderstood breed,” she added, claiming it was unfair for this type of dog to be pinned as violent. The bias towards them leads to individual dogs being judged by their breed, and not by their distinct personalities or histories.
According to the Austin Pets Alive official website, the organization and its affiliates make an effort to serve specific demographics such as pitbulls and other animals typically euthanized in shelters. This includes large dogs with aggressive personalities in need of behavioral correction, unweaned kittens, puppies with parvovirus, and cats with ringworm.
According to Chelsea Forman, San Antonio Pets Alive is proud to offer a chance to these animals who otherwise would have none.
“We’re working hard for them,” she said.
Forman added that it’s expected for San Antonio to reach official no-kill status some time in 2016.