Babette is a 50 pound black and white dog who loves to walk around the lake and sometimes gets the cutest “zooms”. It is a faithful and good companion with other dogs. She has been at the animal shelter for almost 100 days.
Austin is the second largest kill-free city in the United States and home to several animal sanctuaries, but that status is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain. On September 13, Austin Animal Center began temporarily restrict the influx of animals due to overcrowding. Staff and volunteers have been asking the community for help for the past few months, as there is still an overwhelming amount of animals in their care.
Students can help by donating their time, money or resources. Taylor Bell, a regular volunteer at the Austin Animal Center, started volunteering in June when she saw a call from the center explaining the dire circumstances.
“Anyone who wants to get involved, they can really look at what they like and what their skills are, and there will be a place where they can get involved there,” Bell said.
Even the general public can get involved by walking the shelter’s “green dot” dogs. These dogs are exceptionally good with strangers, so any citizen willing to take some time out to walk a dog can do so. This goes a long way for both the dogs and the staff.
If students have room in their home, they should consider fostering or even adopting. Students can visit the Austin Animal Center or their website to see what dogs, cats and exotic pets are available. There are short-term and long-term hospitality situations, so students can choose between a one-week commitment or a multi-month effort. If the students are able to adopt, they will have the most loyal friend they can imagine.
If students cannot find a match at the Austin Animal Center, they can check Austin Animals Alive!, a non-profit organization responsible for the city’s no-kill statute. APA helps the most vulnerable animals to recover and find a home suited to their needs. They are also looking for volunteers, and students can to apply on line.
Sophomore economics student Ayesha Hameed adopted her dog, Chrome, from the Austin Animal Center in January 2022.
“It’s like you always have someone with you, and they always take care of me,” Hameed said.
For Hameed, adopting a dog has been mutually beneficial. Although having a pet as a college student is hard work, she says it has changed her life for the better. Chrome helped Hameed establish a healthier routine for herself and eased her homesickness.
If you’re a college student looking for a best friend or just a way to spend your Saturday afternoon, consider local shelters like Austin Animal Center or Austin Pets Alive! Not only will you make a huge difference in an animal’s life, you will also change your own.
Lawrence is a senior social worker from Austin, Texas.