On July 17th we woke up bright and early to get a little down and dirty with some dogs and cats down at the local animal shelter. Located on the grounds of what used to be the Texas School for the Deaf, it is a wide and expansive facility that allows for the care and protection of Austin’s lost, surrendered, or wandering pets.
Completed in 2011, the beautiful center houses all sorts of animals on 41,000 square feet – from the occasional farm species like goats and horse, to little bunnies. The facility is built to house a plethora of animals, and each area is divided into distinct buildings arranged in rows. This allows for better animal maintenance and care. In fact, most dog enclosures have two distinct spaces: one inside the building with a little doggy door that leads to an outside area protected by a cage.
In June 2014 alone the Austin Animal Center saw a total of 1,651 dogs and cats come through their system. Of all of those pets, 78% of them were strays brought in from off the streets.
On the day that we volunteered, we were greeted by a member of the Austin Animal Center who gave us a lovely tour, and explained to us the process for walking dogs. Typically, the shelter likes to walk each dog twice a day, but with the enormity of their current population…sometimes it doesn’t get done. This is why it is imperative that they rely on the kindness of volunteer groups to come and relieve some of the burden.
Each dog upon entry to the center is walked and evaluated by a specialist to see what sort of condition or temperament they possess. Each dog enclosure displays the following materials: the approximate age, breed, when they came to the shelter, their name, and other pertinent health and medical info. Each cage is also labeled with a color coded dot, which will indicate if the dog is viable to go on walks. Green of course means go, yellow is caution, and red means they will be handled by specialists only. Once you go through the introduction, you are free to wander around to any cage and walk any dog you see fit. There are clips you can attach to the cage that will also indicate when and if that particular dog has already been walked.
In order to volunteer at the animal center, it is recommended that you are 18 and older and somewhat comfortable with animals. Once you go through orientation, it is not required you make an appointment to visit or volunteer again. For more information on the Austin Pet Center, or how to volunteer or adopt, please visit: http://www.austintexas.gov/department/animal-services
This weekend, August 2nd, there will be a free pet expo from 10am to 6pm at the Palmer Event Center! For more information on this event visit: http://www.austinpetexpo.com/