AUSTIN (KXAN) — Clear the Shelters is well underway in Central Texas and across the nation.

As you and your family help shelters hoping to meet their goal, we’ll walk you through the process of adopting or fostering from local shelter, Austin Pets Alive!.

The Adoption Process

The heart of local shelter Austin Pets Alive!’s adoption process in 2021 has evolved since their operations shifted significantly last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During COVID when we closed down, everything went virtual, remote, appointment-based and we found we were much better at customer service with that,” said Sarah Aguilar, senior director of lifesaving operations for the Austin-based shelter.

So the puzzle became how staff and volunteers could achieve an efficient adoption process, without long wait times as they had before the pandemic, while also maintaining the high level of customer service and accommodations they reached during the pandemic.

Once an adopter has a pet in mind, or if they’d like to find our more information, they can email the appropriate contact for what they’re wanting to do.

Resources throughout the adoption and foster process

Austin Pets Alive! has resources available for potential adopters and fosters as they go through the process.

Puppy available for adoption at Austin Pets Alive! (KXAN Photo/Chelsea Moreno)

One of those resources is their matchmakers, who take information based on lifestyle and then find a pet within Austin Pets Alive!’s system that matches that.

“They can talk through all of the pet’s quirks and personality, their needs, their history and make sure the pet that you’re taking home really is the best match for your home life,” explained Aguilar. “The activity level, your energy level, what you’re looking for, do you want to potty train a puppy or not,” she laughed.

More information on how to get in touch with Austin Pets Alive! matchmakers can be found on their website.

Another benefit of adopting from Austin Pets Alive! is the pet will come to you up to date with their vaccinations, with flea and tick heartworm preventatives and each one that is adopted out will be spayed or neutered — either at the pet’s appropriate age, or it will already be done at no cost to you.

In addition, the shelter offers lifetime behavioral support to each of its adopters.

“Being part of an organization that cares so much about the human-animal bond, and setting people up for success and making sure that everyone in the family — the furry four-legged pets and the people — are all supported and able to start off on their best foot and continue having that lifetime of support is just real fulfilling,” said Aguilar. “I think the same would go for so many of our staff and volunteers.”

Austin Pets Alive! also provides leashes, collars toys and anything else fosters may need to help care for their pets to make it as easy as possible.

Toys at Austin Pets Alive! (KXAN Photo/Chelsea Moreno)

Puppy Checklist

  • Food and water bowls
  • Appropriately sized collar and leash
  • Name tag
  • Food
  • Treats
  • Puppy toys
  • Crate, if you decide to crate train your puppy
  • Cleaning products (Potty training safety net)
  • Dog bed
  • Grooming tools
  • Find a veterinarian near you
  • Flea, tick and heartworm preventatives
  • Bells for your back door (Potty training pro tip)

Cat checklist

  • Food and water bowl
  • Cat carrier
  • Litter box
  • Cat litter
  • Toys
  • Catnip
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Find a veterinarian near you
  • Appropriate preventative medicine

Want to find out more? Check out these amazing resources Austin Pets Alive! has for adopters.

The difference beyond the Austin community

Austin Pets Alive!, though already pivotal to the Central Texas animal shelter community, also provides resources and homes to pets from shelters across the nation.

Most recently, the shelter took in over 30 cats from Texas shelters ahead of Hurricane Ida hitting the Louisiana coast. They also helped shelters in Hurricane Harvey’s path four years ago.

Working animal welfare is physically hard, it’s emotionally hard, and at the end of the day when you can say, ‘I saved a life, I made a difference to that one or that dozen or in our case 1,000 pets,’ it provides something and fulfills life in a way that very few things do.

Sarah Aguilar, Senior Director of Lifesaving Operations at Austin Pets Alive! 
Puppy available for adoption at Austin Pets Alive! (KXAN Photo/Chelsea Moreno)

Many of the pets they take into their care come from shelters that don’t have the resources to care for such animals in their conditions.

“Being a resource for not just the pet owners and just potential adopters and fosters in our community but also for pets outside of Austin throughout the area means so much and is one of the things as a private nonprofit that we have the ability to do,” said Aguilar.

“Through adopters, fosters, donors, people that are just networking and talking about what we’re doing, volunteers, everybody, if we didn’t have the support of the Austin community, we wouldn’t be able to do nearly any of the work we’re getting done.”

Austin Pets Alive! has about 50 puppies who are in need of placement either through adoption or fostering, 120 cats, and 200 more dogs on-site at their Town Lake Animal Center who are living in kennels. The shelter has about 1,000 pets total in its care to date.

Join KXAN up until Sept. 18 as we partner with Central Texas-area animal shelters for Clear the Shelters, an annual adoption drive and donation initiative to help get pets out of shelters and into forever homes.