May 12, 2012

Austin Pets Alive!

(Austin, Texas) Austin Pets Alive, a non-profit organization that rescues unwanted cats and dogs and saves them from euthanization. APA aims to make Austin a no-kill city for such animals. 

There are around 100 animal rescue organizations in Austin, although many will only take in a specific breed of animal. 

Today, the number of pets adopted from the center is almost as high as the number of animals accepted into the center -- the result of years of dedicated work. (The organization was established in 1997.)

APA differs from other animal shelters in the area in that they take in only cats and dogs that have been turned away from other shelters, and are scheduled for euthanization.

These almost painfully tiny kittens would qualify for euthanization, because they are unweaned and still dependent on their mother's milk.

Since very few of the kittens in the shelter have a mother, it's up to the very dedicated volunteer staff to keep a 24-hour watch on them.

This kitten is around 5 weeks old. Kittens need to fed every 2-3 hours, even through the night! To prevent diseases from spreading, the staff follow a very meticulous system of feeding, cleaning, and disinfecting. For example, to feed a kitten in a particular cage, you can wear only certain smocks that correspond to the number on the cage.

Without their mother to lick them clean, newborns need major encouragement (read: humans applying pressure with a cotton ball) simply to go to the bathroom. Needless to say, if you walk in simply wanting to look at the tiny things, you'll be left reeling from the smell of excrement and bleach.

Seeing the kittens made me realize how shielded the average pet consumer is from the realities of raising kittens. You don't even see kittens in the pet store until they're significantly bigger!

The dog shelter is even sadder than the cat shelter. (The two buildings are about a 20-second walk away from each other.) My heart went out to Vanilla, this puppy who is still too young to be walked. His head was perpetually poked through the fence, as if desperate to see anything other than the three walls that enclosed him. I worry his head is going to get stuck like this.

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