APA! signs agreement to build on property, expand to others

The City and Austin Pets Alive! have signed an agreement allowing APA! to rebuild on its current property and expand to other properties.

"What we do is we serve to help the animals that fall through the cracks," said Dr. Ellen Jefferson, president & CEO of the nonprofit organization.

But they are also dealing with cracks in the concrete.

"This place needs to come down," said Dr. Jefferson.

Austin Pets Alive! has been at the 70-year-old Town Lake property since 2011, but before that, it served as the City’s animal shelter before the Austin Animal Center moved to the Levander Loop location.

In 2017, Austin City Council authorized the negotiation of a 25-year agreement with renewal options that would allow APA! to upgrade and build on the current property.

Fast-forward to August 24, and an agreement was signed.

"The reason it's taken six years to get to the point where we're actually signing the agreement is that the property has some really big obstacles associated with it. Right now, the current buildings are built under power lines and over water mains because the buildings are older than the City's infrastructure," said Dr. Jefferson. "The power lines are the biggest problem, and we just never were able to reach an agreement with the City of Austin on what to do with them. And our building is so old and falling down that we really needed to just move on."

Through partnering with the Austin Animal Center, APA! has been able to help Austin maintain its title as the largest no-kill city in the country.

Last month alone, APA! took in 30 dogs from AAC as part of a pilot boarding agreement due to a distemper outbreak and overcrowding.

"We take in about 12% of their total population every year just naturally," said Dr. Jefferson. "And then when there are big issues, we work together to try to find a solution."

Going forward, APA! will demolish and rebuild on the current property while pursuing other properties. 

"Austin Pets Alive! is looking at other locations for the bulk of our services, and then what we are really excited about being able to do here is to rebuild an adoption center and a foster service center and really make it very public friendly," said Dr. Jefferson. "Since we know we can no longer keep doing everything that we do here, it's really important that we are successful in being able to fundraise for multiple properties and for rebuilding here. It is a lot to juggle, and we're really going to lean on the community for support."

Dr. Jefferson said they are currently looking for private, individual donors who are interested in making large donations toward expansion efforts. Interested donors can reach out to APA!’s philanthropy department.