'Abhorrent, sickening': City Council reacts to Austin Animal Center audit

Austin city leaders are upset after an audit revealed disturbing and unsanitary living conditions at the Austin Animal Center. 

The 100-page audit came at the request of the Austin City Council as the animal shelter continues to deal with intake and overcrowding issues. The audit includes words like "filth", "unsafe", and "unsanitary" to describe conditions at the animal shelter.

The audit also shows photos depicting algae found in water bowls and outdoor play pools, structural issues, trash and other items piled around, and pet food left out in the open. These were just some of the conditions photographers in the audit.

RELATED: Audit finds Austin Animal Center jeopardizes mission with poor living conditions

"Those conditions described are nothing less than abhorrent, sickening and entirely unacceptable," said Mackenzie Kelly, Austin City Council member.

In guidelines presented by Audit Officer Keith Solis, a shelter must provide animals a primary enclosure where the animal can sit, sleep, and eat away from other roommates or where they use the bathroom. However, the audit reveals that is not what was found at the Austin Animal Center.

"As you can see in this picture, we have three dogs in the enclosure that was originally intended for a cat. These three dogs are essentially sleeping on top of each other, their food, and their waste," said Solis.

Many photos were presented during the audit including photos of animals in crates. Solis says crates have become a routine at the Austin Animal Center. A routine that goes against shelter guidelines of providing quality care.

"All of these conditions that we just highlighted can affect animal comfort. They can also lead to the spread of disease," said Solis.


According to the city, the Austin Animal Center serves as an intake shelter to find animals forever homes, but the audit says the shelter continues to stop taking in animals more times than not due to claims of overcrowding.

The audit recommended Don Bland, the Chief Animal Service Officer, develop a plan for the shelter that keeps both indoor and outdoor areas clean, identify resources to address structural issues, and ensure staff and volunteers are trained properly.  Council woman Leslie Pool says these recommendations should not even have to be said.

"I am extremely disappointed that we find ourselves in such a fundamental disconnect between the responsibilities of this office and the fact that these are the recommendations coming out of an audit which means that these responsibilities have not been fulfilled," said Pool.

Pool called on the city manager to take a look at Bland and his role at the Austin Animal Center.

"I understand the frustration. I don't think it's altogether fair to lay this at the at management. I think there are some issues that we need to sort through from that. It is really basically politically charged. We'll have to work through that," said Austin City Manager Jesus Garza.