Austin, Texas is ringing in its sixth year as the largest no-kill city in America this coming February.
As the no-kill movement gains popularity across the nation, entire cities are pledging to end companion animal euthanasia in their communities.
For decades, traditional animal sheltering models have used euthanasia as a tool to manage low adoptions, treatable illnesses, and pet overpopulation. The no-kill movement--a movement that rejects the killing of treatable animals--is a welcome change for many people, but the application of this philosophy takes coordination between shelters, city and community members.
Austin is a beacon of hope for animal lovers around the country. So, how did they do it?
The Austin municipal shelter first formed collaborations with private, no-kill shelters in the area. These programs start with shelter administrators and city councils, but are only possible with community participation.
In addition to the efforts of the rescue community, Austin's city council played an important role of empowering shelters to implement live-saving programs. Then, shelters extended their adoption hours, implemented creative marketing strategies, and perhaps most importantly, developed foster and volunteer programs.
It is often said that when fosters open their homes to shelter pets, they are saving two lives. Animals that are in need of foster homes are often too young, old, sick, or depressed to survive in a shelter environment. When people foster, they are improving the life of their foster pet and making room for the shelter to rescue another animal in need.
If an urban area such as Austin, Texas and a rural area such as Tompkins County, New York can maintain no-kill status, anywhere can. While population control via spay and neuter should be encouraged, it is only one small step on the road to a no-kill community.
It's easy to forget that just six years ago, Austin was euthanizing thousands of animals each year. The decisive move to become a no-kill city required the collaboration of city staff, shelter staff, and the residents.
No-kill status may not happen overnight, but it is possible anywhere.
WATCH NOW: Yardbar Adoption Event with Wag in Austin, TX