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Exit Interview: Animal Services Chief Tawny Hammond
Hammond championed no-kill shelter policy in Austin
News Story  May 25, 2017, by Nina Hernandez
"...Last month, after a brief, two-year tenure, Tawny Hammond announced that she would leave her position as the city's Animal Services Chief to take a job as Midwest regional director for the Best Friends Animal Society, a nonprofit group that works to spread the no-kill movement across the United States. The decision came at a time when already, many titles in the city begin with "interim."..."

Animal Shelters Take Action
With more volunteers and lower adoption rates, can we stay no-kill?
DAILY News  July 26, 2012, by Monica Riese
"...In a more long-term initiative, AAC is actively recruiting new volunteers to add to its force of 350 – including cat socialization experts, office assistants, customer greeters, and more. Animal Services volunteer coordinator Sarah Luce said in a statement that most of the center's active volunteers can't work more than six hours a month, so the office "would like to recruit and work with retired residents who have time and a love of animals."..."

Austin Animal Center Strains to Maintain Its No-Kill Status
City shelter struggles with overcrowding and volunteer dissatisfaction
News Story  February 7, 2019, by Nina Hernandez
"...I was having a side conversation with Pat Valls-Trelles, onetime chair of the Animal Advisory Commission and current volunteer advocate, about the current commission and whether it's acting in an appropriate oversight capacity, when Commissioner David Lundstedt interjected. Then, volunteer Terry Colgan jumped to Valls-Trelles' defense, illustrating what has become, over the better part of a year, an increasingly fractious relationship between the city's Animal Services Office, the commission, and the cadre of disgruntled volunteers led by Valls-Trelles..."

Animal Shelter's Next Top Dog?
A brief look at the five candidates
News Story  December 24, 2010, by Josh Rosenblatt
"...Over the last month, the public had a chance to meet and size up the five finalists vying to be Austin's next animal services officer. Whoever she turns out to be, the new director will be taking over a department in transition, both physically (moving the shelter from its current home on Town Lake to the Betty Dunkerley Campus on Levander Loop) and philosophically (moving the city and its residents toward a new "no-kill" state of mind)..."

Gimme (Animal) Shelter
Swirling city politics, site selection, and – oh yes – animal welfare
News Story  August 24, 2007, by Katherine Gregor
"...In a nutshell, those are the two sides of the simmering controversy over where the city of Austin should build its new animal shelter. (For background, see "Proposed Animal Shelter Move Gets Community Howl­ing," June 15.) Citizens who believe it's best for the animals to keep the shelter at the more central Town Lake site – rather than relocate to a Health and Human Services Department campus at 183 and Airport – are now on high alert..."

Animal Advisory Commission Endorses APA! Takeover of Town Lake Animal Center
APA! is losing its lease on a Manchaca space in May
News Story  March 9, 2012, by Josh Rosenblatt
"...The Animal Advisory Commission held a special-called meeting Monday night, March 5, to discuss a proposal that would allow Austin Pets Alive! to move its entire operation from its current home at the corner of Manchaca and Lamar into the city's old Town Lake Animal Center. In November, the group signed a license agreement with the city to run an overflow adoption center using about a third of the site, where 30 to 60 of the dogs from the new city shelter on Levander Loop could be sent by Chief Animal Services Officer Abigail Smith in times of overcrowding – and now APA! was coming back to ask for the remainder of the TLAC facilities...."

City Hall Hustle: The Animal Kingdom
One more round of changes proposed for the shelter plans
News Column  March 12, 2010, by Wells Dunbar
"...On March 1, the plan came before council's Public Health and Human Services Committee: Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez and Council Members Laura Morrison and Randi Shade. And while the "Recommendations for the Implementation Plan to Reduce Animal Intake and Increase Live Animal Out­comes" reflected much consensus between the AAC and staff, it arrived with four sticking points: wrangling over a mission statement codifying the no-kill goals, whether to temporarily keep the current Town Lake Animal Center open once the new center is completed, outsourcing adoptions to nonprofits, and, most pressingly, over whether to create an immediate moratorium on euthanasia whenever there's available kennel space..."

No Room at Austin's Animal Inn
Lack of space already dogging new animal center
News Story  December 23, 2011, by Josh Rosenblatt
"...7, when the animal center found itself with 30 more dogs than cages. Going into what she called "crisis mode," Chief Animal Services Officer Abigail Smith grabbed 28 of those dogs and moved them across town to the old TLAC site..."

Animal Shelter Move Howls Again Wednesday
The debate comes to Council chambers.
DAILY News  August 6, 2007, by Wells Dunbar
"...The folks at FixAustin (who else envisions them holding the city by the, ahem, business, with scissors at the ready? Effective name, I guess…) sent out a press release reminding everyone that this Wednesday, City Council's Health and Human Services subcommittee will meet in city hall to receive a breifing on the controversial relocation of the city's animal shelter from Town Lake to the Eastside. (Controversial to FixAustin, at least..."

Bias in Animal Adoption Center Criteria?
Council adopts recommendations for TLAC
News Story  July 1, 2011, by Josh Rosenblatt
"...Under the terms of the commission's No Kill Implementation Plan, passed unanimously by council last year, the current center's Davenport building will be kept open indefinitely as one of several adoption centers. The current TLAC kennels, meanwhile, will be maintained for at least six months as a "safety net" while animal services staff make their move east..."

Health and Human Services: Making Do With Less
Health and Human Services takes another hit
News Story  August 31, 2012, by Michael King
"...Among the myriad 2011-12 functions of the Health and Human Services Department, Director Carlos Rivera reports more than 45,000 immunizations and vaccinations; 18,000 STD tests (and follow-up care as needed); 12,000 food, pool, and temporary events permits; and 2,000 disease surveillance investigations. That's just a snapshot for a department that includes social services (from basic needs to workforce development), community services (neighborhood centers), disease prevention and health promotion (various services, some grant-funded), environmental health (primarily food service inspections), and maternal/child/adolescent health, which includes administering the Women, Infants, and Children supplemental nutrition program (420,000 participants) as well as various youth, childcare, and sexual health programs...."

Budget Outlook Grim for Animal Center
City shelter will need to do more with less
News Story  August 10, 2012, by Josh Rosenblatt
"...As we reported two weeks ago ("$1 Million: The Next Price Tag on No-Kill," July 27), the new Austin Animal Center is understaffed, underfunded, and underwater as a result of what Chief Animal Services Officer Abigail Smith calls "an incredible kitten season, just off the hook." We also reported that in an attempt to give shelter staff a fighting chance at maintaining its rather miraculous 90% live-outcome rate, Smith recently put in a request to City Council to add $1 million to her budget for fiscal year 2013...."

Proposed Animal Shelter Move Gets Community Howling
Plan to move ailing Town Lake Animal Center to East Austin creates strange bedfellows
News Story  June 15, 2007, by Wells Dunbar
"...Not coincidentally, it's also the new 44-acre home of the Austin/Travis Co. Health and Human Services campus..."

Best of Austin Story  September 15, 2000
"...House Calls for the HousebrokenMobile Vet Services..."

Austin's Animal Partnership Model: Get Engaged
Spotlighting a handful of the nearly 100 local organizations working together to save Austin's animals
News Story  April 3, 2009, by Patricia J. Ruland
"...183 and Airport Boulevard (aka Levander Loop). Since 1999, operating both stationary and mobile clinics, Emancipet has delivered high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter services throughout Central Texas, in order to prevent pet proliferation and homelessness..."

Point Austin: Animal Passions
If the dogs recognized their spokesmen, they'd run the other way
News Column  October 19, 2007, by Michael King
"...That was the somewhat muddy conclusion of last week's City Council meeting, conducted in a more circuslike atmosphere than usual, as proponents and opponents of the animal-shelter move (more of the latter) packed the chamber and cheered and booed their respective positions on the dais and the lecterns. The council voted, as anticipated, to move the shelter to Highway 183 East and Airport Boulevard (Levander Loop, also the site of the city's Health and Human Services campus), with the proviso that a building on the current site will be retrofitted to become a satellite adoption center (in theory, one of several more eventually to be established throughout the city)..."

Animal Shelter Lawsuit
Citizen groups sue city, allege 'conspiratorial strategy' to keep animal shelter relocation decision away from public scrutiny
News Story  October 5, 2007, by Katherine Gregor
"...For the animal shelter, the whole Eastside outcry and current council dithering over the site selection could have been pre-empted, had the city initiated site master-planning when it first acquired the significant 44-acre tract (much of it undeveloped) in 2003. While it has been tagged the Health and Human Services campus, city staff have recently proposed using it for an animal shelter, affordable housing, and new parks and recreation facilities, in addition to the existing Health & Human Services office buildings..."

Libertarian Approach to Animal Euthanasia
Postmarks  November 21, 2005
"...So, instead, we must focus on the suppliers of animals. This means that breeders must pay the government for animal control services in advance and that nonbreeders must spay and neuter..."

Best of Austin Story  September 24, 1999
"...The Daughters of Charity are continuing her mission by making quality health care for the working poor a reality. They provide primary health care for adults and children, immunizations, parenting classes, diabetes education, counseling, and more for those lacking the safety net of government-sponsored services..."

Town Lake Animal Center: The End of the Beginning of the End
Council moves closer to some resolution of the animal shelter problem, amidst furious protests.
DAILY News  October 12, 2007, by Richard Whittaker
"...It was just as bloody as expected. A capacity crowd at Thursday's council meeting saw the council make a step towards the closure and demolition of the Town Lake Animal Center and the construction of a new site at the proposed Health and Human Services Campus on Airport...."

The Daily Hustle: 12/8/10
Raining cats and dogs on the animal welfare front
DAILY News  December 8, 2010, by Wells Dunbar
"...That's right, the city (not to mention the Hustle) are pulling at your heartstrings for the holidays, as low or no cost pet initiatives are under way this winter season, along with the continuing search for a new Animal Services officer...."

The Unflinching Abigail Smith
New animal services chief faces up to Austin's shelter warfare
News Story  March 25, 2011, by Josh Rosenblatt
"...Accompanied by the sound of 2,000 bands and a crowd of more than 100,000 joyous souls, Abigail Smith arrived in Austin last week to take the reins of the city's animal services department. Her timing really couldn't have been heavier with significance and expectations: South by Southwest in town, spring (see: mating season) in the air, and the city still celebrating having reached the coveted 90% live-outcome rate in February, the number commonly agreed upon as the dividing line between no-kill and, well, not no-kill...."

The Secret Life of Pets
Hollywood has the cure for those dog-day afternoons of summer
Film Review  July 8, 2016, by Kimberley Jones
"...Max is happy with domesticated life: He counts owner Katie (Kemper) as his soul mate, and he’s got an apartment building full of fur friends to pal around with while she’s away at work. But when Katie brings home a rescue mutt named Duke (Stonestreet), a wedge is driven into their tight twosome, and then Duke gets them both picked up by animal services..."

Five Years of No-Kill in Austin
What has the city learned about animal welfare, and how far does it have to go?
News Story  December 22, 2016, by Nina Hernandez
"...That includes smaller towns like Odessa, Texas, and Lebanon, Missouri, which two years ago experienced such overcrowding that the city's no-kill program had to get rescued by the state's Humane Society. Austin didn't become a no-kill city overnight, but those who advocated for the policy emphasize the importance of groups like APA – which took over the Town Lake Animal Shelter after city services moved east to Levander Loop – who play a vital role in ensuring the city shelter can maintain its 90% live outcome goals – the thrust of no-kill...."

Walking the No-Kill Tightrope
As Austin's animal welfare center moves to a new building, will the delicate balance of 'no-kill' and resources be maintained?
News Story  November 4, 2011, by Josh Rosenblatt
"...First, Item 22 on the City Coun­cil agenda, which enables the execution of a temporary license agreement authorizing local animal rescue group Austin Pets Alive! to occupy and operate the current (soon-to-be-former) Town Lake Animal Center on Cesar Chavez as an overflow adoption center, must be pulled from the consent agenda by vote and postponed until council holds a required public Texas Parks & Wildlife Code Chapter 26 hearing later the same day on whether or not to approve licensing the TLAC site for anything other than park use. After the hearing, City Council will vote on the license agreement, and (presuming it's approved) Chief Animal Services Officer Abigail Smith (who, by that point, will have been twiddling her thumbs all day at City Hall while her staff loaded trucks with animals and caravanned them east across I-35 to the new Levander Loop site) and APA! Executive Director Ellen Jef­fer­son will meet somewhere in City Hall to sign the agreement – thereby freeing Smith to leave some 25 animals behind at TLAC as the first official residents of the new APA!-run adoption facility..."

To Kill a Mockingbird
Fate of contract with Texas Wildlife Services hangs in balance at Tuesday meeting
News Story  September 28, 2017, by Lindsay Stafford Mader
"...Within the city and county, coyote-related calls to authorities get directed to 311. Austin's Animal Services responds within the city..."

EPA Rejects Coyote Cyanide Ban
Feds reject effort to remove unsafe animal-control tool from use
News Story  November 29, 2018, by Lindsay Stafford Mader
"...Nearly 20 wildlife and conservation organizations had petitioned the EPA to prohibit the poison and start a special review of its registrations. The groups argue that the toxic pesticide, deployed for predator control in M-44 devices by the controversial Texas Wildlife Services, often harms nontarget wildlife, threatened and endangered species, and people and companion animals, even as nonlethal alternatives exist..."

Potential Neuter to Austin’s No-Kill?
The rules dictating when city animal shelters should spay or neuter lost pets may be changing, and may have an effect on the future of no-kill shelters
News Story  November 17, 2016, by Nina Hernandez
"...It's $100 for the first impound fee, $5 a day for room and board, and a $50 fine to avoid a spay/neuter. City code currently gives the Animal Services director the power to spay/neuter on the second impoundment without the owner's consent, but some, including a group called Spay/Neuter Advocates for Austin and City Council Member Ora Houston, want to change that rule to mandatory spay/neuter after first impound..."

Rooster Re-Coop
Animal Services rehabs fighting roosters
DAILY News  March 6, 2016, by Nina Hernandez
"...Kristen Auerbach, deputy chief Animal Services officer, said even in just the past few years roosters in this situation would have been either euthanized or slaughtered for meat. That’s not the case here..."

[UPDATED] No-Kill Nightmare
Austin Animal Center forced to euthanize animals for space concerns
DAILY News  May 15, 2012, by Monica Riese
"...In a morning press release, Chief Animal Services Officer Abigail Smith said: "What we need right now are adopters to help us catch up with the inventory of animals that we are seeing come to the shelter. This is a tough and challenging season for animals and we urgently need community support for our City shelter pets."..."

Health Officials on Lookout for Woman Exposed to Rabies
DAILY News  July 18, 2008, by Nora Ankrum
"...According to a press release from the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department, officials are hoping to find a local woman who they believe was exposed to rabies last weekend. Described as a five-foot-four-inch-tall twentysomething singer-songwriter and recent Florida transplant with shoulder-length brown hair and a name that "may begin with the letter 'L'," the woman was witnessed handling a bat while canoeing at Lady Bird Lake "on or about" last Sunday, July 13..."

Gift Guide: Pet Edition
Don't forget about the furry friends this holiday season
DAILY News  December 7, 2012, by Monica Riese

The Purrr-fect Gift
With shelters swelling, slashed pet adoption fees
DAILY News  December 2, 2011, by Wells Dunbar
"...“All of the shelters and rescues in our area are full right now,” says Abigail Smith, Chief Animal Services Officer at the Austin Animal Center. “We want anyone considering adding a furry family member this holiday season to make adopting from a shelter their FIRST choice..."

Spend Black Friday With Furry Friends
Adopt a friend for free this weekend
DAILY News  November 23, 2012, by Jordan Smith
"...All pets at the AAC are spay/neutered, have up-to-date vaccinations and will be sent home to their new families with a collar, tag, and microchip. "We're certain that no Black Friday sale can top the value of saving an animal's life," said Abigail Smith, the city's chief animal services officer...."

Fear & Loathing
Travis County says goodbye to a coyote-killing machine
News Story  December 21, 2017, by Lindsay Stafford Mader
"...Beginning in 2005, Travis County outsourced its coyote and "nuisance" wildlife management to Texas Wildlife Services, a state office of a highly criticized federal government program that uses taxpayer dollars to kill millions of animals annually. But that agreement ran into trouble last September when county commissioners fielded complaints about the transparency and practices of TWS, and began deliberating whether or not to renew its contract...."

Melanie Sobel's Letter
Former Williamson Co. animal shelter director Melanie Sobel's open letter defending her record and recounting her experiences with Williamson Co. government
News Story  July 6, 2007
"...I concede that I was naïve in thinking that if the County was willing to spend $4 million on the animal shelter, it followed that there would be a sincere desire to do what it would take to make this project successful. I was continuously reminded there had been references to how dissatisfied the County was with the services being provided by the Williamson County Humane Society..."

$1 Million: The Next Price Tag on No-Kill
The new Austin Animal Center is overflowing with animals
News Story  July 27, 2012, by Josh Rosenblatt
"...Last week Austin Animal Services reported that the city's live animal outcome rate for the month of June had clocked in at 92%. Indeed, 721 animals found permanent homes during the month, smashing the record for most adoptions recorded in June; 200 more animals left the AAC than came in...."

Herding Cats ... and Dogs ... in Austin & San Antonio
The high cost of being a no-kill city
News Story  February 3, 2012, by Josh Rosenblatt
"...Last September, as Austin Animal Ser­vices was celebrating its sixth straight month with a 90% live-outcome rate, 80 miles down I-35 in San Antonio, that city's Animal Care Services department was dealing with its own, far grimmer, statistical reality. As San Antonio closed out fiscal year 2011, it was looking at a dismal 31% live-outcome rate, the kind of number that could drive even the most optimistic animal lover to despair...."

Skeptics Question Aquarium Owners' Record
Groups ask city to investigate animal welfare
News Story  August 30, 2013, by Jordan Smith
"...On Monday, Delcianna Winders of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wrote letters to the city's Animal Services and the Health and Human Services Department – citing an Aug. 23 Chronicle blog post and other backup information – asking for city officials to inspect the proposed Austin Aquarium in far Northwest Austin to ensure that the Covinos are complying with state animal welfare law and with the city's wild animal ordinance...."

Does Austin Need Fixing? Ask Reno.
Animal shelter reform has meant less euthanasia in Reno – why not in Austin?
News Story  August 8, 2008, by Patricia J. Ruland
"...Adoptions increased also because of improved customer service, the expansion of evening and weekend adoption hours, and an increase in volunteer ranks from 30 to more than 1,200 additional volunteers. To boost volunteerism, Brown noted, the NHS budget did not change, "but we did look carefully at every program for lifesaving impact and reallocated some limited resources." In addition, the NHS website invites volunteers to join "if you agree all life is precious" and saving lives is "worthwhile." Finally, Brown credited a "new partnership" with the Washoe County Regional Animal Services as being an "important part" of the reported successes – in fact, the overall lower kill rates are derived from a composite of statistics from NHS and WCRAS, which was not assessed by Winograd..."

Public Notice: Dog Week of Summer
News Column  July 16, 2015, by Nick Barbaro
"...Adoption fees for all shelter cats and kittens will be waived, all cats will be spayed or neutered, microchipped, and vaccinated, and the first 100 adopters will get a goodie bag of supplies for their new cat(s) to enjoy. You can even start preparing now by printing out a KittyPalooza Backstage Pass at"

Monkey Law
While the city keeps dogs and cats on a tight leash, monkeys, along with other wild pets, swing under animal control's radar
News Story  August 5, 2005, by Cheryl Smith
"...Although Travis Co. Health and Human Services says it hasn't received any complaints regarding a monkey, Carroccio said she's been hearing about the lemur, which apparently lives in the Capital Plaza area...."

Confusion, Concerns Surround Response to County’s Dangerous Dogs
A partnership problem, or not?
News Story  March 22, 2018, by Lindsay Stafford Mader
"...Last December, toward the end of a daylong meeting of Travis County Commissioners, County Judge Sarah Eckhardt voiced concerns suggesting that the county-city animal control program might be on thin ice. The dais was discussing whether to move wildlife issues to be under Austin's Animal Services Office ("County Kills Coyote Contract," Dec..."

UPDATED: Austin Aquarium Gets the Fisheye
Owners’ checkered past raises red flags; city says no animals on site
DAILY News  August 26, 2013, by Jordan Smith
"...PETA's Delcianna Winders, director of capital animal law enforcement for the animal advocacy group, today sent a pair of letters – one to the city's Animal Services and the other to the Health and Human Services Department – citing the article by the Chronicle and other backup information, and asking for city officials to inspect the proposed Austin Aquarium in far Northwest Austin to ensure that proprietors Vince and Ammon Cavino are complying with state animal welfare law and with the city's wild animal ordinance...."

Safety Net or Dead End?
The politics of Austin animal welfare
News Story  February 18, 2011, by Josh Rosenblatt
"...Last March, it might have been reasonable for an outsider considering Austin's animal-welfare debate to assume that passage of the no-kill ordinance by City Council would at long last cool, if not extinguish, some of the lingering animosities within the community. After all, the passing of the no-kill implementation plan was a unanimous endorsement by the council of the theory that animal shelters could – with the right blend of spay/neuter programs, adoption initiatives, and fostering services – finally do away with the nasty business of euthanizing healthy, potentially adoptable animals and achieve the magical 90% save rate that cities like San Francisco; Ithaca, N.Y.; and Reno, Nev., had already reached..."

What Happened to the No-Kill Millennium?
Austin's plan to end wholesale euthanasia at Town Lake shelter remains a distant dream
News Story  November 18, 2005, by Rachel Proctor May
"...Nonprofit groups would help educate the public, find more foster homes for animals, and perform more sterilizations. City Council would add new staff and money to Austin's animal services budget, currently about $4 million..."

Despite Understaffing, Austin Leads in No-Kill
98% of shelter animals found a home in March
News Story  May 18, 2017, by Sarah Marloff
"...Even local animals have been affected by Austin's rapid growth. Tawny Hammond, whose last day as the city's Chief Animal Services Officer came Sunday, told County Commissioners on Tuesday, May 16, that the number of calls her office gets has escalated with population growth, so response time continues to rise..."

County Kills Coyote Contract
Will enter into new deal with City of Austin in January
News Story  December 7, 2017, by Lindsay Stafford Mader
"...Commissioners decided on Tuesday, Dec. 5, to stop contracting with Texas Wildlife Services, opting instead to use the city of Austin's Animal Services Office to respond to wildlife issues countywide...."

Pit's End
Dog owners face an unwelcoming housing market
News Story  May 5, 2016, by Nina Hernandez
"...The emotional toll on the animals can be severe. Deputy Chief Animal Services Offic­er Kristen Auerbach credits the shelter's more than 500 volunteers for keeping them healthy..."

Room for the Unexpected
With the budget season not yet in full swing, there's still time for hope
News Story  July 1, 2011, by Wells Dunbar
"...As the burgeoning protest over closing Shipe Pool demonstrates, you can affect the process. But as the Ruiz example also testifies, in budget season, you have to expect the unexpected. FY 2012 Summary of Potential Budget Reductions General Fund FY 2012 Forecast Potential Reductions Parks & Recreation $45,093,110 $1,963,342 4.4% Health & Social Services 41,588,858 1,772,337 4.3% Library 27,183,857 957,402 3.5% Planning & Development Review 22,072,835 766,097 3.5% Municipal Court 12,990,893 344,859 2.7% EMS 49,216,305 531,903 1.1% Police 270,494,239 3,039,968 1.1% Fire 132,303,598 881,216 0.7% Subtotal $600,943,695 $10,257,124 1.7%   Other Funds Austin Energy $1,178,347,259 $12,409,369 1.1% Austin Water 460,588,964 6,820,075 1.5% Communications & Technology Mgmt. 50,049,838 1,808,024 3.6% Economic Growth & Redevelopment 9,953,798 427,975 4.3% Subtotal $1,698,939,859 $21,465,443 1.3% Support Services* $62,835,274 $2,686,204 4.3% Total Citywide $2,362,718,828 $34,408,771 1.5%..."

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