ASPCA: Finding Funding

Karen Medicus
Karen Medicus (Photo by Jana Birchum)

While arguments rage over policies at the Town Lake Animal Center, non-city organizations keep doing what they do. For Karen Medicus, director of the national ASPCA Partnership (formerly Mission Orange), that means securing funding. Since 2007, the group has invested nearly $2 million in local animal-welfare services, including several components of the no-kill implementation plan, such as the Humane Society's feral cat program and free sterilization services at rabies clinics in high-intake, low-income neighborhoods. Those services were originally supposed to be covered in the fiscal year 2011 city of Aus­tin budget but got bumped to 2012. "The biggest gap that we identified years ago and have been trying to get funding for, and which now with the new plan there is some funding, is the medical piece," Medicus says. "Treating those animals that need help to become adoptable."

ASPCA Partnership, which aims to lower euthanasia rates among homeless animals, is focused on raising Austin's live-release rate, rather than its save rate, which is often the focus of other rescue organizations, Medicus says. It's a particularly relevant distinction for Austin, which is going no-kill with limited cage and kennel space for the 23,000 animals it takes in annually. "The save rate is calculated by how many animals come into the shelter and how many didn't get euthanized," she says. "We look at a live-release rate, which is how many left the shelter alive. We don't consider them saved if they're still in the shelter. The sheltering system is not a long-term option for animals. Mass housing can bring disease. Our goal is to get them out of the system and into homes as quick as possible so they don't sit there and get sick."

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