South of Congress, but not South of Hope
By Samantha Reichstein
Walking along the streets of South Congress on a Saturday afternoon, Mary and Brian stop with their toddler, Ryan, to admire a 4-month-old pit bull mix.
Beside them, a little girl named Kim begs until her mother allows a white-and-gray terrier pup into her arms.
“Is he friendly around other dogs?” the couple asked.
“Can we please get him?” Kim asked, looking up at her mom.
From there, instant connections form under a small black tent reading Austin Pets Alive!
Since 2008, Austin Pets Alive! has strived to decrease numbers of euthanized animals in the Austin area, maintaining a 99% live-release rate from each shelter location.
The positive impact of APA! South Congress adoptions are not only benefitting the animals, but potential adopters are gaining education about the no-kill, non-profit organization.
“(On South Congress), animals that are not always a families first choice receive more opportunities to meet potential owners,” said Rebecca Reid manager of marketing for APA!
South Congress adoptions are a great way to showcase animals that are “harder to adopt,” such as dogs with medical conditions, or puppies that require more of a time commitment to families.
“While other adoption outlets require strict specifics for animals, South Congress provides a flexible, inclusive atmosphere,” Reid said.
“Most of our animals come from shelters that do not have space for (them),” Adoption Counselor Jordan Stubbs said.
“Many are faced with the consequence of becoming euthanized.”
As a main worker at the South Congress location, Stubbs said the weekend adoption process significantly improves APA!
“This is the number one hub for adoptions,” Stubbs said. “Half of the adoptions we do our walk-by; even people coming up and playing with the dogs gets our name out there.”
Reid began working at Austin Pets Alive! in February of 2011, initially in the puppy intensive-care unit.
Since then, Reid worked her way up to become a marketing manager while loving every moment of her job.
“I get to wake up each morning, stare my APA! pups in the eye, and say, ‘I’m gonna go do what I can to save more animals like you,’” she said.
The non-profit also provides educational aspects to its customers.
Both Reid and Stubbs elaborated on APA!’s Positive Alternatives to Shelter Surrender; a program which brings financial help and educational lessons to owners who feel forced to give up their pet.
Though South Congress provides visibility, more of APA’s work occurs behind the scenes.
Lindsey Alhadef, a recent University of Texas graduate, began volunteering with APA! this January.
“I’ve always wanted to adopt, but a college environment is not always suitable for pets,” Alhadef said.
Whether it’s walking dogs along Town Lake’s trails, partaking in outings and sleepovers through the “big sister” program, or even donating toys and treats, volunteering has allowed Alhadef to not only give, but also gain.
“For people that are unaware of APA!, it easily shows them an amazing organization, allowing them to start thinking about adoption, or even the volunteer process,” Alhadef said.