July 17, 2015 by Dr. Ellen Jefferson and Tawney Hammond

Audience: Executive Leadership, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team

Video Length: 87 minutes

As the largest no-kill city in the country, Austin, Texas, knows how to turn things around. Fifteen years ago, the city of Austin was killing 85 percent of the 30,000 animals impounded each year. You’ll hear how Austin Pets Alive, the driving force behind implementing change, achieved and is maintaining no-kill status, saving more than 90 percent of the animals entering the municipal shelter. "Bottle baby,” dog behavior and foster programs are just some of the ways they have boosted lifesaving. Austin Pets Alive knows what it takes to create a no-kill community. This is a presentation from the 2015 Best Friends National Conference.

About Dr. Ellen Jefferson

Dr. Jefferson graduated from veterinary school in 1997 and started a career in private practice. In 1999, in response to an 85 percent death rate at the city shelter, she started EmanciPET, a low-cost and free spay/neuter clinic, in an effort to decrease the number of homeless animals. In 2008, still not satisfied with how fast the city of Austin, Texas, was moving toward no-kill status, she stepped in as executive director of Austin Pets Alive. Austin Pets Alive became the driving force behind bringing the entire city of Austin to a greater than 90 percent save rate, becoming the largest no-kill city in the U.S. In 2012, Ellen linked up with San Antonio Pets Alive to implement the no-kill programs that have proven successful in Austin, increasing the live release rate in San Antonio from 30 percent to 82 percent in three years. Married to a horse veterinarian, Ellen and her husband have two dogs (one a distemper survivor), two cats and a bird, as well as many foster animals.

About Tawney Hammond

Tawney Hammond, the newly appointed chief of animal services officer for the City of Austin, has spent the last 26 years working in the public service arena in Fairfax County, creating and implementing programs and services for people and their animals. During her tenure as animal shelter director, the Fairfax County Animal Shelter has become the largest jurisdiction in the nation with a live release rate above 90 percent and has been named by the Humane Society of the United States as part of the top 1 percent of shelters in the nation.

Under Tawny’s direction, the shelter has decreased the length of stay for shelter pets by 75 percent, doubled the adoptions of dogs, created an award-winning social media program, implemented play groups for shelter dogs, developed a robust transfer-in program from less resourced communities and tripled the number of volunteers and foster homes. With around 25 full-time staff members and an annual intake between 4,000 and 5,000 animals per year, the shelter has excelled at making relatively limited resources go a long way toward saving lives.