AUSTIN (KXAN) — Workers and volunteers said there is a hostile work environment inside Austin Animal Center. They made the claims at Monday night’s Animal Advisory Commission meeting.
One worker said she took the risk to speak out to bring attention to some of the challenges.
“I ask that an immediate moratorium be placed on the killing of long-stay dogs under the guise of behavioral concerns. This is nothing more than emotional blackmail, and not only doesn’t help with our space crisis, but in fact uses up a ridiculous amount of resources that could be better spent elsewhere,” said Ashley Niels, who’s a supervisor at the center.
Workers and volunteers said the shelter is understaffed. They feel management is not listening to their concerns.
We reached out to Austin Animal Center for a response. It declined to comment while the meeting was taking place.
In a statement on Tuesday, AAC representatives said the shelter takes these allegations seriously, while also seeking additional resources to help increase staffing.
Abby Varela, AAC’s animal care and behavior team manager, said in the statement that behavioral challenges can be “a significant problem” for some of AAC’s shelter dogs.
“As the municipal shelter for the City of Austin and unincorporated Travis County, we cannot operate as a sanctuary and must make some hard decisions, also keeping in mind that being in a shelter environment for months on end is difficult for a dog’s well-being,” Varela said in the statement. “We understand the emotional toll this takes on staff and appreciate their advocacy on each dog’s behalf.”
The center is looking for short-term fosters to house at least 20 medium and large dogs for at least a week due to overcrowding and hot temperatures. The center said it has run out of places to put these animals.
If you’re interested in applying to be a foster or fostering, workers are available this week from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. to help out with the process.