AUSTIN (KXAN) - Lost and abandoned pets in Austin won a reprieve Thursday fromthe Austin City Council.
The council voted unanimously to adopt a wide-sweeping set ofthree dozen recommendations that limit animal euthanization at thelocal shelter.
The measures put an immediate stop to killing animals at TownLake Animal Center if there is empty cage space, and mandate thatAustin move toward a 90 percent save rate at Austin's animalshelter.
The work comes after years of debate between city staff membersand outside animal advocates.
"Today is a great day for animals in Austin, Texas, but it'salso a great day for animals across the country," said Ryan Clintonwith FixAustin.org. "What we do here in Austin willinspire hope and inspire courage for animal advocates all over thecountry."
The Council also voted Thursday to start construction on a newanimal shelter in East Austin.
Once construction starts this year, it should take about a yearand a half for the shelter to be built.
The other recommendations are lengthy. They include, but aren'tlimited to:
- Volunteers counseling pet owners when they drop them off.
- A behavioral specialist for animals to determine whether they're adoptable.
- Requiring up to four off-site animal adoption centers
- Keep the Town Lake Animal Center open for six months after the completion of the new shelter
In all, over the next two years, the recommendations will costmore than $1 million, something not lost on council members and themayor - who recommended finding ways to save in other areas of thecity budget.
They also cautioned against an outsourced adoption programsforcing employees out of a job.
"We've got to be conscious of the folks that are city employeesnow," said Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell. "I am going to be verysensitive to there should not be any employee layoffs in theprocess of promoting this."
In 2009, the city was forced to euthanize more than 7,000animals left at shelters. That's down from the 12,000 in theprevious year, but still, groups here in the city believe there areplenty of options to save animals here in the city.
"If you are dealing with only one piece of the issue, then youare really not solving the problem," said Laura Morrison, an AustinCity Councilmember. "You need to deal with all thepieces."
The City Council also voted to build a new animal shelter inEast Austin Thursday. That work, once its started will takeroughly a year-and-a-half to complete.
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The pastor of the Austin church attended by the teacher who was killed Thursday in Benghazi remembered him as a spiritual friend dedicated to improving the lives of others.
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Global civil rights icon Nelson Mandela, whose legacy is ending South African apartheid, has died.
A man convicted 21 years ago for engaging in ritual child abuse was released Thursday after the DA's office agreed the only physical evidence against him was faulty.
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