Sunday, September 15, 2013

Austin, we got a problem: help for local animals to be cut off

Austin, Texas has turned into a megaplex and has the overwhelming animal problems to show for it. Until now, the communities of Cedar Park, Bee Caves, Westlake, Lakeway, Lago Vista and Sunset Valley have been able to rely on the city of Austin for assistance with stray animal issues and wildlife.

Recently, the director of Austin Animal Services, Abigail Smith has issued a statement that the city of Austin will no longer come to the aid of these smaller less-endowed communities and in fact, will charge a large fee to help with animal related issues.

According to Forbes Magazine, Austin is ranked "among the top cities in the world in 2011 along with two other U.S. metros based on their business-friendliness, affordability and attractiveness to 'millenials' starting and growing their families later this decade."

"People are flocking to Austin to take advantage of companies hiring and the city’s cool reputation. The metro boasts a net migration rate that is the third fastest in the country over the past five years."

That prediction has been proved to be more than true with huge onslaught making Austin, Texas their new home. Austin-based economist Mark Sprague stated 'approximately 158 people were moving to Austin daily! That's 40 some odd families...and their pets.

Many of these incoming families and their dogs will be settling in some of the neighborhoods such as Cedar Park, Westlake, Lago Vista and Sunset Valley which have been duly warned the city of Austin animal control services will only be available at a large cost. 

Austin, Texas, known for being one of the most up and coming desirable places to hang your hat, is becoming something other than the city which attracted so many people way too quickly. The huge condominiums alone have altered what was once a unique skyline and now has no resemblance to which was once a true original.

The promise of 'live music every night, movie theaters that sell whiskey, a world-class university' and some of the most mind-boggling terrain in the world with low cost living expenses has placed Austin as '11th largest U.S. city, according to latest Census Bureau estimate.'

What has happened is a spill off of the overwhelming pet problem. Austin Animal Center's new facility is nearly always at capacity. According to Austin Chronicle, "demands of maintaining no-kill status for 17 months have resulted in Animal Services struggling to keep two undersized and overcapacity shelter up and running with the money and manpower needed for one."

This leads to the glaring question, why should the animals in these little communities be punished due to the huge growth enjoyed by the city of Austin? Certainly planners made preparations in transit, energy, utilities, education and other areas of concern. Did they forget about the animals. Kind of looks that way.

Did they assume when Town Lake Shelter was disassembled and the new smaller shelter was constructed way across town on the east side that everyone would forget and the overwhelming animal problem would just go away?
The animal problem is worse than ever with rescue groups struggling to take on more than they can handle to keep animals from being euthanized and allow Austin Animals Services and the group Austin Pets Alive to maintain Austin's no-kill status. And now, these over-stressed rescue groups will take on even more animals to help these little communities without benefit of staff, equipment, funding, transportation and facilities to house the many animals that are showing up not only in Austin, but in Cedar Park, in Sunset Valley, in Westlake Hills, in Lago Vista, in Lakeway and other tiny bedroom communities who didn't ask for this huge growth and who certainly aren't enjoying the benefits.

One sage animal lover says, "Lets talk about the poor rescue groups who now will be more overwhelmed with more calls and more animals because they will be killed after a holding period of three days! My god, I hope your dog does not get out! The rescue groups do everything they can just to survive and Austin now decides to be better then everyone else because of the number game. How many animals can you give away for free game. How many attack the people or their pets Austin gives away because They did not do a behavior assessment, I bet a lot. It's about saving them right?"

Something needs to be done. As the right planning wasn't put into place by the those planners being paid to plan, the job seems to have fallen into the laps of those who aren't pulling down a paycheck or receiving huge grants and funding to care for the overflow of animals when those 158 people and their pets move to Austin each day.

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