AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Dr. Ellen Jefferson is the Executive Director of Austin Pets Alive!
She says Austin's "No-Kill" status is a huge accomplishment.. "To put that into perspective, Texas is the largest killer of pets by over double any other state and Austin is this oasis in the middle of Texas that is saving all of these lives," Jefferson said.
Jefferson is one of many animal advocates in the community right now afraid the city is headed in the wrong direction. Austin is in the final stages of hiring a Chief Animal Services Officer.
The two finalists are Don Bland and Linda Cadotte.
Bland is the Executive Director of the Humane Society of Central Texas.
Cadotte is Director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry in Superior, Wisconsin.
This week Dr. Jefferson wrote a blog post about her frustrations with the process, saying both have animal welfare experience but quote "have not saved anywhere near the percentage nor number of animals that Austin does and is mandated to do." "One of our concerns is that if a candidate comes in, and they don't thoroughly understand what we've done to get to this place as being the largest no-kill city in the country, then they could accidentally undo it," she said.
A city spokesperson tells FOX 7 in part:
"The City of Austin is proud of the final two candidates and knows that both of them are seasoned public service professionals with a passion for animal care. Both finalists are committed to the no kill philosophy and on continuing to leverage the partners that make Austin's animal care system so strong. We're confident that the successful final candidate will serve the City of Austin well and provide great leadership to the Austin Animal Services department."
"We also know that there were very highly experienced candidates that dropped out and I think it's worth exploring further what we could do to bring some of those people to the table," Jefferson said.
We spoke with Austin City Council Member Leslie Pool by phone.
Council Member Pool sponsored a resolution this Spring recommitting to Austin's no-kill status and getting the number of saved animals up to 95%. Advocates are concerned there has been a downward trend in save rates since the beginning of this year so Council Member Pool says she's asked City Manager Spencer Cronk to get to the bottom of that and also look into the concerns about the candidates' qualifications because she says they have merit.
The City of Austin says the Assistant City Manager is expected to choose between the two candidates in a couple of weeks. To read the full letter by Dr. Jefferson, click here.