APA! Town Lake Animal Center (Photo by John Anderson)
The city’s Austin Animal Center and the nonprofit Austin Pets Alive! may be able to repair their frayed relationship after all, as City Council told staff last week to come to terms with AAC’s most important No-Kill partner. The resolution, brought forward by Council Member Leslie Pool and adopted in a 9-0 vote Nov. 4, gives hope for ending the deadlock between the two parties as they’ve tried to negotiate a new contract allowing APA! to continue operating the Town Lake Animal Center facility Downtown. “It’s not a done deal,” cautioned Ellen Jefferson, president and CEO of APA! “But we’re very hopeful and we’re very grateful to Council for giving such strong direction.”
The current stalemate traces its origins back to 2017, when Council asked AAC to work out an agreement that would allow APA! to use the TLAC site on Cesar Chavez for a 75-year term. According to Jefferson, that certainty is necessary for APA! before it invests in necessary improvements to the crumbling building, which was the city’s main shelter before it built the AAC facility in Southeast Austin, and which animal welfare advocates and volunteers have consistently pushed to keep open.
In recent weeks, Jefferson and APA! began to sound the alarm that the nonprofit and the city were headed for a breakup. Among the sticking points: AAC would not agree to let APA! to take in animals from beyond the five-county Austin metro area, which Jefferson has said is essential to the group’s mission of making Austin a national leader in No-Kill policies. Critics say that practice interferes with the adoption of viable animals from within the Central Texas region, which is AAC’s stated goal.
Pool’s resolution directs staff to work with APA! to determine a baseline for its animal intake, corresponding to the value of the land use rights for the TLAC property, much of which lies in the Lady Bird Lake floodplain.
Jefferson said the resolution settles the geographic dispute and will enable APA! to bring in animals from outside Central Texas, but that a final agreement on how many animals APA! will take remains uncertain and needs to be resolved before the TLAC contract can be renewed. She said that could take several more months, and she expects a short-term extension of the contract beyond its current Nov. 23 expiration date to be approved.
“APA!’s mission is No-Kill,” Pool said as she laid out …….