Welcome to the No Kill Training Academy at Austin Pets Alive! in partnership with Austin Animal Center, made possible by Maddie’s Fund®.

While you are in Austin, you’ll be learning in-depth about one of our lifesaving programs, with the goal of going back to your community and starting to save lives right away. We know you’ll be really busy, but wanted to give you a little more information about what will be going on around you while you are here.

APA!’s Role in No Kill Austin

Austin has been the largest No Kill City in the country for five years. In 2017, our city shelter, Austin Animal Center, has been averaging a live outcome rate of more than 97 percent. APA! has been a large part of making this possible because APA! takes in whatever animals the city shelter has remaining after selecting pets for their own adoption programs and working with other rescue groups. These animals typically have a behavioral or medical issue that needs treatment but are otherwise very adoptable. APA! provides that care and places the animals in their forever homes.

About the Training Academy

In order to help APA! and Austin Animal Center launch the No Kill Training Academy and teach other communities our lifesaving programs, Maddie’s Fund® awarded a grant to APA! to fund four new staff positions. This includes Maddie’s Director of Education and three program-specific floaters to keep APA! running while staff works directly with students.

Lifesaving Programs at Austin Pets Alive!:

Medical Clinic

The clinic is the first stop for most APA! animals. Here they get their vaccines, medical evaluation, any urgent treatment and a longer term treatment plan if needed. Our clinic is open seven days a week, 10 hours a day. Our vets and technicians see more than 7,000 animals each year: some only need basic vaccines and others need emergency surgery – and everything in between.

Senior and Chronically Ill Pets

As the city of Austin’s municipal shelter maintains a save rate above 95 percent, APA! pulls animals with more difficult issues. This includes senior pets and those with chronic illness such as diabetes. In most shelters, saving these animals wouldn’t be seen as worth the effort, but we know they deserve to live out their natural life in a comfortable place.

Dog Programs

APA! sees about 3,500 dogs come through the doors every year. In some cases these are immediately adoptable dogs – just out of space elsewhere. For others, we have developed the following:

Dog Behavior Program

APA! has the most comprehensive and cutting-edge dog behavior program at any single shelter in the US. We have a dedicated staff of five who:

  • oversee our volunteer trainers and create plans for individual dogs to succeed
  • work directly with the most challenging dogs
  • run playgroup twice a day
  • create kennel enrichment programs
  • run our adoption follow up program
  • provide free behavior assistance for any APA! dog for life
  • work with fosters on behavior issues
  • coordinate and run our Canine Good Citizen readiness program
  • train interns from Dogs Playing for Life four times per year
Dog Walking and Playgroup

As part of our behavior program, we want to ensure the dogs at TLAC get plenty of positive stimulation. Each dog is walked a minimum of twice per day by an army of trained dog walkers who use specific handling techniques to give the dogs a consistent experience.
Many of the dogs also get to attend playgroup once and sometimes twice per day. Many dog walkers also become virtual fosters or “behavior buddies” to give every dog the best chance of being adopted to a great home.

Parvo Ward

Canine parvovirus is a death sentence in just about every shelter in the country. APA! created the first parvo treatment ward in the country, and saves over 500 puppies from this disease every year. Likewise, APA! treats approximately 50 puppies with distemper each year in foster homes.


In many shelters, pregnant dogs are routinely spayed- even in late stages – which terminates the pregnancy. At APA!, we allow a pregnant dog to deliver her puppies and raise them until they are adoptable. Most APA! Mutternity dogs live in foster during their pregnancy and while they raise their babies, but some mama dogs and pups live in our Mutternity Ward, where our Mutternity volunteers and clinic staff monitor them and care for them until the family goes to foster or until each one is available for adoption.

Dog Foster

While APA! has two brick-and-mortar facilities than can house dogs until they are adopted, those facilities can only handle up to 200 dogs at any given time. APA! more than doubles its ability to save dogs in the Austin area through our Dog Foster program. APA! currently has the largest dog foster program in the US, with up to 350 dogs in foster homes at any given time.

Cat Programs

Neonatal Kitten Nursery
One of the largest populations of at-risk animals is orphaned or neonatal kittens. APA! created a program to train volunteers to feed and care for these kittens – some only days old – around the clock. In 2015, APA! saved more than 1800 of these kittens.

Ringworm Kitten Center

Kittens with ringworm are often killed because most shelters aren’t equipped to prevent the spread of infection or treat the fungus over time. APA! has a separate ringworm kitten center where our “fungus fighters” come twice a week to dip the cats.

FeLV Cat Center

Likewise, APA! saves cats with Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV.) Although they may have a shortened life expectancy, FeLV cats can still live a normal, happy life for a number of years. FeLV attacks the immune system, making cats more susceptible to other diseases. APA! teaches adopters about FeLV virus and what signs to watch for to know if treatment is needed.

Barn Cat Program

Feral cats, while not suited to being a family pet, can still have a comfortable and meaningful existence. APA! houses these cats in a specially-constructed enclosure to give them privacy and adopts them out in sets of two to be working cats.

Cat Foster Program

APA!’s cat foster program is the largest in the nation. With up to 1,000 cats in foster at any given time, this program helps every other cat program at APA!. Our fosters provide temporary homes to every type of cat that comes through our doors, including neonatal kittens, ringworm kittens and cats, kittens and cats that need extra medical support, and cats that need behavioral support as well.

APA! by the Numbers

  • Animals saved in 2016: 7,900+
  • Active volunteers in 2016: 2,500+
  • Active foster homes in 2016: 855 unique dog fosters and 700 unique cat fosters. Austin Pets Alive! has the largest foster network in the country!
  • Paid staff: approx. 140 (90% of our staff are animal care providers)

Behind the Scenes

Administration and Fundraising
Behind the scenes, our office staff works to keep the facility in working order, pay bills, manage volunteers and fosters and raise the funds needed to maintain operations. You may be meeting with members of the administration team during your visit.


Because APA! deals with these very specific populations of animals, we have a unique opportunity to learn more about their conditions and are now contributing to the field of veterinary science. There are multiple scientific research projects currently taking place: two with our parvo program to document our protocols and demonstrate the increase in live outcomes, two with our FeLV cats to better understand FeLV and under what conditions a cat may seroconvert (test negative after a period of time) and an upcoming study with our ringworm cats.


Lifesaving Programs at Austin Animal Center:

Foster Program

The Foster Program works to identify vulnerable and at-risk pets and places them into temporary homes, this includes cats, kittens, puppies, and animals recovering from surgery and medical issues, as well as finding and supporting foster homes for the hard-to-place population of adult, long-stay dogs, some of whom have behavior challenges. The Foster Program is staffed by 2 full-time foster coordinators, and 1 part-time coordinator.

Rescue Program

In addition to the volunteer, adoption, and foster programs, AAC has developed a strong Rescue Partner Program comprised of more than 170 rescue partners. Approximately 30% of animals in the shelter are transferred to rescue partners. The participation of our partners is vital to AAC’s live outcome goals.

Animal Care, Behavior Team, & Enrichment

Animal Care provides the animals with safe and healthy environments to live in. Animal Care staff sanitizes kennels, provides fresh food and water daily, and supports the animals’ minds by providing enrichment both in and out of the kennels.

In-kennel enrichment is important for an animals’ wellbeing while staying at AAC. Volunteers support the enrichment team by helping make, clean, and pass out enrichment items to the animals each day, according to our weekly enrichment schedule.

In addition to exercise and social interactions, playgroups provide opportunities for enrichment, assessment, training, and behavior modification. Playgroups are run every morning by members of the Behavior Team, and new dogs are assessed and evaluated for dog sociability.

Vet Services Team

From routine preventive care to emergency surgery, our veterinary team handles all the medical needs for our animals. Vet Services provides spay and neuter surgeries daily to all animals that are leaving the shelter, along with the many treatments they provide to any animal that enters our care in need of medical intervention. A team of four full-time veterinarians and 15 veterinary technicians complete spay/neuter surgeries and microchip more than 5,000 animals per year and treat thousands of medical conditions and critical cases.

Field Services Team

The Field Services unit is comprised of Animal Protection, Outreach, Wildlife Education, and Neighborhood Level Programing. This team focuses on keeping both our human and animal community safe. This team also engages the community to help reduce animal intake and create stronger bonds between pets and their families.

Animal Protection

Animal Protection Officers respond to 30,000 calls each year, rescuing injured wildlife, enforcing animal laws and ordinances, and providing support and resources for pets and people in need in Austin and Travis County. Officers provide dog houses, food and even fence building supplies to help keep pets safely and humanely housed in their homes. The Animal Protection team in Austin hopes to lead the nation with creative efforts to keep animals home and safe, rather than at our shelter.

Outreach and Education

The goals of these programs are to reduce shelter intake, provide humane education and prevention based intervention, and build partnerships through community events, classes and presentations. All volunteers are invited to help talk about the services and mission of the Center at these outreach and education events. The Outreach team hosts free microchip clinics, free rabies vaccination clinics, works with local media to feature adoptable pets on TV and radio, and manages the Community Cats program.

Neighborhood Level Program

The Austin Animal Center’s Neighborhood Level Program works in areas that have a higher than average per capita intake and low return-to-owner rate.  The Pet Resource Specialists work to build trust in the community while assessing individual household needs.  Their goal is to promote, protect, and preserve the human-animal bond.  This program aims to minimize the need for animal sheltering services by effectively addressing an individual’s barriers to pet retention and connecting the individual with the resources that will enable them to keep their pet in the home.

Pet Resource Center

Similar to the Neighborhood Level Program, the Pet Resource Center provides resources and guidance to remove barriers to pet retention and keep animal in homes. In addition to managing stray intake and owner surrenders, the PRC provides assistance with behavioral, medical, and financial challenges that pet owners may be struggling with.


Austin Animal Center is hosting and participating in a lifesaving new study on foster care, supported by Maddie’s Fund®. The study will measure the effects of foster care on medium and large dogs (40-100lbs.)

AAC by the Numbers

  • Total intake in 2016: 16,219
  • Total live outcome rate in 2016: 96.4% (98% for dogs, 95% for cats)
  • Foster program in 2016: 900 foster families housed 2,500 pets and 65% of those animals were adopted directly from foster, without having to return to the shelter.
  • Total hours of service contributed by fosters: 81,830 hours
  • Volunteers in 2016: 795 volunteers contributed 53,797 hours of service. This is the equivalent of 26 full-time staff!
  • Pets adopted in 2016: 7,886
  • Animals transferred to rescue partners in 2016: 4,715
  • Animals returned to their homes in 2016: 2,760
  • Dogs returned in field by Animal Protection Officers (without having to take the dogs to the shelter): 700 dogs