Austin Pets Alive

Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Austin City Council voted unanimously late last night to sell the largest city owned plot of undeveloped land downtown – the former Green Water Treatment Plant site west of the Second Street District, along Cesar Chavez Street. 

Developer Trammell Crow is buying the downtown plot for over $42 million dollars, with plans to build 826 apartments, 200 hotel rooms, retail and more.

The deal requires Trammell Crow to make 10 percent of the apartments affordable to people who make 80 percent of the median family income. The units will remain affordable for much longer than an initially-proposed seven-year term, which the council heard in April before postponing the sale. There will also be some requirements for construction worker pay and safety.

Photo by I-Hwa Chang for KUT News

The Austin Animal Center is seeking adopters for at least 40 pets today, May 15. The Animal Center will euthanize 23 dogs today if at least 40 pets do not find a home.

The Animal Center has taken in a large number of pets recently, but they haven’t seen an equal number of adoptions. Since last Friday, the shelter says it has taken in 36 animals, putting the total population at 1,046 pets with no more space. The Austin Animal Center’s population is at 58 (over capacity by 130), and the Town Lake Animal center is also at capacity.

Since February of 2011, the city-run shelter has maintained its "No Kill" policy by saving 90 percent or better of the animals taken in. But this year, if the adoptions don’t rapidly increase, the Animal Center could fail to meet this benchmark.

The Austin Animal Shelter, which opened last November, already has more animals than it can hold. The city says it’s taken in about 140 more pets than this time last year, and is adopting out fewer animals.

But why does the newly built Austin Animal Center have less space than the Town Lake Animal Center, the city’s former shelter?  

City spokeswoman Patricia Fraga says when the Austin Animal Center was designed three years ago, organizers didn’t take into account that Austin would be a “no kill” city. “So, what’s happening now is we’re keeping animals longer,” Fraga says. “We’re not euthanizing animals for space, so we have animals that are living at the shelter longer than they would have previously.”

Photo by KUT News

The new Austin Animal Center, opened only in November 2011, is already well over capacity. And the city is asking for your input on what to do now.

While the new center has helped with the city’s ‘”no kill” goals – maintaining a 90 percent “live outcomes” rate for pets that pass through the shelter – it’s straining. And it’s not just seasonal, city officials say.

‘Since April the animal intakes at the city shelter are not leveling off and the Animal Services Office can not keep up with the high number of intakes versus those animals that are being adopted or rescued by the City’s partner animal rescue groups,” city officials write in a press release.

Photo by Liang Shi for KUT News

The big story out of the Austin City Council meeting on Thursday was the decision to withdraw a proposal that would have called for a community task force to advise on single-member council districts for future elections. A citizens group pushing to put its own districting proposal on the ballot applauded the withdrawal.

Several other items related to city elections did pass, including an item which will ask voters whether to move local elections from May to November.

The council also held a public hearing and approved an ordinance over zoning for “alternative financial services businesses,” aka payday lenders.

Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

At 142-items long, saying the Austin City Council faces a full agenda today is an understatement.

Today’s regular meeting is filled with a number of contentious and convoluted issues – certainly not the stuff incumbent council members up for re-election would prefer to address on the eve of early voting. Here's a roundup of three big items up today:

1. Speaking of Voting: Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution that would create a task force to study options on organizing the city into council districts. The task force would be made up of Austin voters. (Currently council seats are elected at-large.)  The proposal has garnered pushback from a citizens group, Autinites for Geographic Representation, which is collecting signatures to put their 10-1 district plan on the ballot.

Photo for KUT News by Ihwa Cheng

Today the Austin City Council will consider changes to a temporary lease agreement with Austin Pets Alive. Austin Pets Alive has been using a portion of the Town Lake Animal Center since the city shelter moved five miles east to the Austin Animal Center, and now the nonprofit wants to operate out of the entire building.

Also on the agenda at today’s work session, beginning at 9 a.m., is a resolution that would establish an advisory task force on drawing geographical districts for city council elections. The proposal is similar to what was proposed by the city's Charter Revision Committee.

Photo by oxcnpxo

A local non-profit organization dedicated to saving shelter animals from being euthanized will have a whole lot of doggy treats to hand out to rescued pets. Austin Pets Alive! (APA) just received $15,000 in donated dog treats. On top of that, APA gets to keep the 22-foot trailer that delivered the food.

“We’re so thankful for this generous donation from our friends and mentors at Best Friends Animal Society,” APA executive director Ellen Jefferson said in a news release.  “We will be able to save an additional 500 lives per year with this vehicle, which will allow us to do mobile adoptions and also serve as a transport vehicle for rescue situations, like the night the Bastrop shelter was evacuated due to the wildfires.”

Photo by sheeshoo

The blistering heat has claimed another casualty: the Austin Pets Alive adoption clinics you see outside pet stores. Temperatures are too high for dogs to be hanging around outside on the sidewalk.

APA vans are also having trouble keeping cool in the heat, and organizers are looking for volunteer mechanics to fix them for free. (Update at 8:24 p.m. APA says it now needs donated vans or money to buy parts more than it needs mechanic volunteers.)

Just hours before a public meet-and-greet scheduled for this evening, the City of Austin announced one of the five candidates for Chief Animal Services Officer has dropped out of the race.

City spokesperson Patricia Fraga told KUT News that Abigail Smith withdrew her name for "personal reasons." As executive director of a "No Kill" shelter in Ithaca, New York, Smith was a favorite of some "No Kill" advocates.