AUSTIN (KXAN) — As Central Texas continues to attract more and more residents, some of the region’s most vulnerable animals are in need of extra care and services.

For decades, nonprofit Austin Wildlife Rescue (AWR) has worked to help rescue and rehabilitate sick, injured and orphaned wildlife animals. Each year, the nonprofit cares for between 8,000 and 9,000 animals, said Hayley Hudnall, executive director of AWR.

As the region continues to attract more residents and developments bloom across Central Texas, those needs become all the more apparent, Hudnall said.

“All of these animals are either losing their habitat, or they’re being forced to live in cities, which means more human-animal contact and conflict, usually,” she said. “We want to humanely coexist with these animals as much as we can. But we’re also living in their habitat, so we need to make some room for them and understand that they’re going to be in our backyards.”

AWR will host its annual Caring for Critters Brunch fundraiser on Sept. 30 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Austin. The fundraiser is AWR’s biggest yearly initiative to raise as much proceeds as possible to improve its operations, purchase medicine and supplies and tend to as many animals as possible.

This year, the nonprofit is already seeing 500 additional animals in need of care compared to 2022. Those service calls have become especially prevalent this summer, as record-breaking consecutive days over 100° have taken a toll on area wildlife.

“The heat has been really, really tough on all of the animals this year — it’s getting worse and worse, because there’s no water and there’s no rain in the forecast,” Hudnall said. “With the staffers, making sure that they’re coming in, that they’re getting enough water, that they’re not getting too hot out there while they’re cleaning all of these animal cages. The animals are so hot that we’re going out there multiple times a day, we’re spraying them down or making sure they have extra water and make sure they’re cool enough.”

As a nonprofit, AWR has six full-time staff members and hires seasonally during peak seasons, typically from March through October, Hudnall said. In the summertime, it’s not unusual for the organization to intake between 30 and 40 animals daily.

Part of those fundraising proceeds help the facility train up full-time and seasonal staff to ensure animals are getting around-the-clock care during their rehabilitation periods.

Those looking to support the nonprofit’s efforts can purchase tickets or serve as a sponsor for this year’s Caring for Critters Brunch. Monetary donations help the nonprofit purchase the food, medicine and formula needed for the animals, Hudnall said.

Other opportunities to amplify AWR’s initiatives include physical donations of gently used towels, pillowcases and blankets, as well as produce to help feed the critters. AWR also operates an Amazon Wish List that those interested can use to directly donate materials.

“Every year, we see more animals than the year before,” she said. “That’s us kind of trying to keep up with that increase and raise enough funds to take care of more animals so that we don’t have to turn anything away.”