Patricia Fraga

Ernest, Gabby, and their daughter Emma Seldana, 2, visit with a dog at the Town Lake Animal Shelter Wednesday. The shelter is temporarily waiving adoption fees to reduce overcrowding.

Photo Credit: Nathan Goldsmith | Daily Texan Staff

Town Lake Animal Center is waiving dog adoption fees in an attempt to encourage adoption and prevent euthanasia.

Thirty dogs were moved from the Austin Animal Center to the Town Lake Animal Center last week because the shelter had filled it’s 278 dog kennels, said Austin Animal Center spokeswoman Patricia Fraga.

Fraga said adoption fees, which usually range from $75 to $150, will be waived until the kennels are cleared to prevent euthanasia of the dogs. All the adopted dogs will be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and will go home with a collar, tag and microchip, Fraga said.

“They are all at risk of euthanasia if not adopted,” Fraga said. “Particularly the older and long-term dogs. We do everything in our power to prevent that and really don’t want it. We get the word out and try to get people to meet the dogs and know their risk.”

Town Lake Animal Center spokeswoman Melissa Miller said adopting a pet from the shelter is rewarding for both the dog and owner.

“By adopting a pet, you’re not only bringing home a new family member, you’re saving a life,” Miller said. “You will receive unconditional love from a furry friend and are saving the life of an animal who might have otherwise been killed at a shelter.”

The average number of dogs at Town Lake Animal Center is 60, and the center is now housing 90 dogs, Fraga said.

Fraga said the recent population increase of stray dogs is due to the warm time of year and recent storm, which frightened many animals and caused them to run away.

“Stray animals are just an ongoing issue,” Fraga said. “The city faces it every day. Especially now because it’s the beginning of spring. Many dogs and cats are entering mating season so they will get loose, and if they are not spayed or neutered they will reproduce and those babies will have nowhere to go.”

Fraga said the support of volunteers, foster families and people willing to adopt has helped Austin maintain its status as a “no-kill city,” meaning more than 90 percent of animals in shelters are adopted to homes and not euthanized.

“Adoptions have been increasing which is a great thing for the city,” Fraga said. “People are very supportive. We have increasing numbers of volunteers and those willing to foster.”

Austin Pets Alive!, an organization dedicated to preventing animal euthanasia is located at Town Lake Animal Center. APA! spokeswoman Gretchen Meyer said enough people in Austin want pets and should consider adopting before buying.

“Most homeless pets have absolutely nothing wrong with them and are exactly the same as non-homeless pets,” Meyer said. “Adopting an older dog can have huge benefits, since you don’t have to go through the puppy stages and house-training and deal with the crazy puppy energy.”

Printed on Thursday, March 29, 2012 as: Animal center waives adoption fees

Puppies and kitties rejoiced when the city announced its status as a no-kill city this month. The city earned the designation for the first time in February, when 92 percent of animals that went into shelters either got adopted or did not have to be put down. In March 2010, the City Council approved the No Kill Implementation Plan to reduce animal intake and increase pet adoptions. The Animal Services Office worked with volunteers and dozens of community partners including Austin Pets Alive, Emancipet and Animal Trustees of Austin since the plan’s implementation last October. “By far the most important factor is that the whole community pitched in,” said Filip Gecic, interim chief animal services officer for the city. “With our limited resources we would have never achieved this status without foster families’, volunteers’ and politicians’ support.” Austin Pets Alive focused on actually saving animals from the shelter rather than advocating for political support, said Ellen Jefferson, executive director of the group. Saving animals from the shelter drew attention from the community and generated support for the animals. The city’s goal of keeping alive 90 percent of the animals taken into the shelter is one of the most progressive goals in the nation, Gecic said. Eliminating night drop-off boxes — places where people could drop off an animal anonymously after hours — helped the city stick to the plan. People would drop off animals that needed training or care at night without getting advice about their animal’s problem, Gecic said. In the five months since the Town Lake Animal Center closed the boxes, it received 700 fewer animals. Spring is a more challenging season to keep kennel space available because it is mating season, city spokeswoman Patricia Fraga said. “As part of the implementation program the city is starting a public awareness campaign about the services available at the animal center,” Fraga said. “In April and May, the campaign will run ads on buses and taxis and public service announcements that focus on spaying and neutering animals. In the summer, the campaign will focus on adopting and fostering animals.” Fostering frees up kennel space, which reduces the risk of animals being put down. The foster families promote the pet within their social networks, and they sometimes end up keeping the animal, Fraga said. “A lot of folks get into fostering to permanently bring an animal into their home,” said Sarah Hammond, foster coordinator of the Town Lake Animal Center. “A forever home is better than a temporary home.” A new animal shelter expected to open in fall of 2011 in North Austin will replace the Town Lake shelter. The facility and its operations will be greatly improved, making it easier to keep animals healthy and clean, Hammond said.