Updated: Thursday, 11 Mar 2010, 6:40 PM CST
Published : Thursday, 11 Mar 2010, 1:10 PM CST
AUSTIN (KXAN) - Lost and abandoned pets in Austin won a reprieve Thursday from the Austin City Council.
The council voted unanimously to adopt a wide-sweeping set of three dozen recommendations that limit animal euthanization at the local shelter.
The measures put an immediate stop to killing animals at Town Lake Animal Center if there is empty cage space, and mandate that Austin move toward a 90 percent save rate at Austin's animal shelter.
The work comes after years of debate between city staff members and outside animal advocates.
"Today is a great day for animals in Austin, Texas, but it's also a great day for animals across the country," said Ryan Clinton with FixAustin.org . "What we do here in Austin will inspire hope and inspire courage for animal advocates all over the country."
The Council also voted Thursday to start construction on a new animal shelter in East Austin.
Once construction starts this year, it should take about a year and a half for the shelter to be built.
The other recommendations are lengthy. They include, but aren't limited to:
In all, over the next two years, the recommendations will cost more than $1 million, something not lost on council members and the mayor - who recommended finding ways to save in other areas of the city budget.
They also cautioned against an outsourced adoption programs forcing employees out of a job.
"We've got to be conscious of the folks that are city employees now," said Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell. "I am going to be very sensitive to there should not be any employee layoffs in the process of promoting this."
In 2009, the city was forced to euthanize more than 7,000 animals left at shelters. That's down from the 12,000 in the previous year, but still, groups here in the city believe there are plenty of options to save animals here in the city.
"If you are dealing with only one piece of the issue, then you are really not solving the problem," said Laura Morrison, an Austin City Councilmember. "You need to deal with all the pieces."
The City Council also voted to build a new animal shelter in East Austin Thursday. That work, once its started will take roughly a year-and-a-half to complete.