Austin Animal Center hits critical capacity, closes intakes

The Austin Animal Center has hit critical capacity and has once again closed animal intakes.

Between June 24-26, the Austin Animal Center took in 149 dogs and cats with only 124 leaving. It is an ongoing pattern the shelter has seen regularly. Now the shelter says they have no other choice but close intake for the time being.

"I share frustration, I'm a public servant and the times when I can't offer our public services, but at the same time, it becomes a finite issue of space," said Jason Garza, Deputy Chief for Austin Animal Services.

Another animal shelter in the area, Austin Pets Alive!, works hand in hand with the Austin Animal Center. APA! is also seeing capacity issues. 

The CEO and President of APA! told FOX 7 they are contracted with AAC to take in a certain number of animals when the shelter runs out of space.

"We've already exceeded that by several hundred animals. It's kind of dire right now," said Ellen Jefferson, CEO and President of APA!.

Fostering and adopting is needed now more than ever, especially with it being the Fourth of July holiday when intakes usually skyrocket.

"We're lighting the beacons so that people can come and help us and get us into that stable, manageable, humane capacity for care," said Garza.

Shelter officials say it is best to take matters into your own hands since intakes are closed for emergencies only. If you find a lost animal, your options include:

  • Call 311 and ask for an animal detection officer.
  • Knock on doors to find the animal’s owner. Officials say dogs are usually found within a block of their home.
  • Post the animal on social media 
  • Get the animal’s microchip scanned

Further resources can be found here:

While the shelters are working to deal with intake issues, APA! hopes the city invests more into animal services this budget season.

"We operate in an animal shelter system that is extremely underfunded, 30% of all 311 calls are animal related and the number one call is lost dogs and only 0.5% of the city's budget goes to animal services. So you have one out of every three callers worried about animals and then 1/100 of the budget going to actually address the needs of the community," said Jefferson.

She says the public is not only needed to help with adoptions or fostering, they are also needed to step up and speak out for the animals.

"People can go and speak up at the budget hearings and speak up for animals. We need the community's support to keep trying to address this and get to a better place," said Jefferson.