Positive Alternatives to Shelter Surrender
Over the last several years, the animal sheltering system in Austin has changed. The
transformation from a city shelter that at one time tried to hide the fact that animals had a higher chance of death to one that now openly embraces help from the community and welcomes rescue organizations has been spectacular to watch. Our city is full of animal lovers and having a shelter and animal rescue community that works to ensure pets throughout Austin are safe has made us a leader in the No Kill Movement. Austin is the largest No Kill city in the country and has successfully continued to save lives since embracing the No Kill philosophy. That being said, it wasn't easy and there are numerous programs and partnerships in place with Austin Animal Center to help ensure we continue to be a leader. One of these not-so-public programs is P.A.S.S. (Positive Alternatives to Shelter Surrender). I reached out to Patty, the PASS manager and asked her to share a little information about what she does. The PASS program is dedicated to helping people who may feel they have no other option but to surrender an animal into the shelter. Unfortunately, as pet lovers, we all hate the idea of animals entering shelters, but there are times when a family can no longer care for an animal or feel that they truly do not have a choice. PASS is here to help guide owners who feel helpless and offer help in rehoming their pets or give them options to help their pets stay in their own homes. The PASS program is a unique and I am sure heartbreaking endeavor to those involved and I am honored to share these thoughts from Patty.
"For the past 7 years I have been the Pass Manager for Austin Pets Alive! Our Pass program was set up to help people keep their pets if possible, and to help re-home, if not. I get about 650-750 emails and calls each month, all from people believing they may have to re-home their dog, cat, rabbit, etc. At one point, we even helped relocate some Koi! Over the years I have been confronted with almost every issue a person can have that makes keeping their pets seem impossible. I'd love to share some of the resources here that I give people to either help them keep their pets, or safely re-home them as a last resort.
Social Media is King!
First, if you are having behavior problems but cannot afford a trainer, the first thing you can do is google for low cost training in your area. If you cannot find any, go on social media pet pages and post.. ask people there if they know someone who might help. State your issue and use a cute pic of your pet. Beyond that, there are also many wonderful online trainers that can be found on You Tube. You can simply type in your issue, and some are sure to pop up. I would also suggest googling for "Best dog trainers on You Tube"...and the same for cats.
For medical issues the first thing to do is apply for Care Credit. It's pretty easy to get and does not require perfect credit. If you don't qualify check with your local shelter and see if they offer any medical vouchers. You can also set up a fundraiser at one of the sites like Go Fund Me or You Caring. Get it posted all over social media and sent out via email to everyone in your address book. Ask all of those people to share it for you. Be brief, but include diagnosis, the vet you are using, and the issue. Always include a cute photo of the pet in need.
For Re-homing...again, take advantage of social media. It's a great way to get the word out. The most important things you can do when you create a FB post to re-home your cat or dog is to make your post public view (not set to friends only), insert your city, your contact info (email or phone), your pet's behavior with other dogs, cats, kids, and people, and the reason for re-homing. Use amazing, spectacular photos! The photos are the most important part. Get your dog or cat out in the bright sunshine and green grass, or a brightly lit, clean room, and take pics with them looking happy. For cats and even dogs, I like to tell people to use one pic that's a bit unique...toss some sunglasses on your pet, or put a boa (cheap at any party store) around their neck to make them stand out.
Last but not least, keep your pet's safety in mind.....screen anyone interested in adopting! Ask for the contact info of the potential adopters vet, and then call that vet and ask them if they would recommend them as a responsible pet owner. Do a home check. Go see exactly where your dog or cat will be living. Isi it the kind of environment where your pet will thrive? Ask questions. Will your pet be kept indoors? What will they do with your pet if they decide they cannot keep him/her? Let them know your dog or cat should be returned to you and not surrendered to a shelter if that day ever comes.
I have found there is nothing you cannot find help for on social media! Found dog? Get it posted!.Lost cat? Get it posted? Have you seen cruelty or neglect? Call the authorities and then get it posted and reach out for advice and help. Need a pet deposit but don't have it? Before giving up your pet, get it posted. Set up a fundraiser to raise it and get it on FB and then out to everyone you know via email. Speak to your apartment manager and ask them to give you a week to 10 days to raise the funds. A case example is Logan. Logan's owner was fleeing a domestic violence situation and he was about to be left behind with the abuser, who was not kind to him. The owner contacted me and I helped her set up a pet deposit..within just a day after her story was told, the $300 was raised to get Logan to safety with her!
I hope some of this info will help people be able to retain their precious pets, and if they do have to re-home, then hopefully this info will help them do that safely.
Thank you, Patty Alexander
Austin Pets Alive!"