AUSTIN (KWKT/ KXAN)— Austin Animal Center will have a new head in Don Bland, according to a post he made on Facebook and later confirmed by AAC in a release.
“It is bittersweet that I announce my resignation from the Humane Society of Central Texas to become the Chief of Animal Services for the largest No-Kill City in the Nation, Austin Texas,” Bland wrote in a since-removed post.
“I’m proud to have been a part of the community that worked together to get the City of Waco Animal Shelter to No-Kill Status, from the dismal 28% that it was all those years ago,” Bland said, thanking everyone who had supported him and the organization over the past 7.5 years.
Last month, Austin Pets Alive! president Ellen Jefferson sharply criticized both finalists for the Chief Animal Services Officer position, including Bland. Jefferson said Austin was “settling” and claimed the candidates were not at the level of expertise to head animal services in the premiere “no-kill” city in the country.
At the time, Bland responded to the criticism by providing statistics about his past successes in Waco and previous corporate positions. He said if he were to be selected for the position in Austin, he would partner with local groups who were already “doing something right.”
Just four months ago, the Humane Society backed down on plans to fire Bland. According to staff members at the time, the Humane Society’s board was disappointed with his fundraising efforts. Here is what Bland had to say at the time.
Bland tells KXAN sister station KWKT that he has not worked out when his last day will be at the Humane Society. AAC says his first day as Chief Animal Services Officer will be Aug. 19. That role reports to the Assistant City Manager.
“The CASO will be expected to lead the Animal Services Office’s programs and initiatives while continuing to expand on the City’s nationally recognized successful efforts to reduce animal intake and increase positive outcomes for rescued animals,” the city said in a release. “Austin has been a leader in the live outcomes/no-kill movement and recently raised the No Kill benchmark from 90% to 95%.”