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Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do if I make contact with a bat?

Please consult the What to Do about Bats pdf, which will provide all of the necessary information.

About the Austin Animal Center

Do you participate in community events?

Yes! As the community shelter, Austin Animal Center loves to participate in events around the Austin area. Depending on the purpose and logistics of the event, expected attendance, and availability of staff and volunteers, participation may include: 

  • Informational material and giveaways
  • Free pet ID tag engraving
  • Free microchips
  • Booth with adoptable pets
  • Mobile adoption unit

To request AAC participation in your event, please fill out the event request form

Do you take animals from other shelters?

No. As the municipal shelter for the City of Austin and unincorporated Travis County, our funding comes from our taxpayers. This means that resources must go towards animals and pet owners within our jurisdiciton. 

What does "no-kill" mean?

No-kill means that euthanasia is reserved for animals that are irremediably suffering or cannot be safely placed into the community, and no animals are killed for space only. Traditionally no-kill means that a rescue or shelter finds live outcomes for 90% or more of the pets that enter their care. The City of Austin has mandated a 95% live release rate and Austin Animal Center consistently exceeds that level. 

Adopt a Pet

Can I adopt a pet from you if I don't live in Texas?

Absolutely! Anyone is welcome to adopt from us. We do not provide transportation, but if you can figure out logistics we can make it work! 

What does the * mean next to some pets' names?

The asterisk simply means that the pet didn't come in with a name so we named the pet here at the shelter!

Animal Protection

Is "Animal Protection" different than "Animal Control"?

The traditional model of animal control was designed to regulate loose dogs and patrol for "rabid and vicious" dogs - hence the term "dogcatcher". This model also was typically enforcement-based.

We have moved toward a more progressive model in which our officers serve to protect, not control, both human and animal life, through a variety of services aimed at educating and supporting the public, and working to keep pets and families together. Instead of immediately issuing citations, our Animal Protection Officers will work with owners to get into compliance and provide resources like fencing and doghouses. 

My neighbor's dog keeps getting loose. What can I do?

Call 311 every time you see your neighbor's dog loose, and include the owner information. Animal Protection will contact the owner to discuss the leash law violation and ways we can assist with keeping the dog contained. 

Community Cats

A cat has been visiting my home. What should I do? I think I can put him/her in a carrier.

Around 35% of pet owners let their cats roam freely, often without visible identification like a collar or name tag.

If the cat has a clean coat, is not too thin, and appears otherwise healthy it’s probably a neighbor’s cat or one that a neighbor cares for (even if you’ve never seen it before). Try the paper collar trick. Cut a thin piece of paper and write, “This cat has been visiting me. I want to see if he/she has an owner before trying to help. If this is your cat, please write your contact info or contact me here _______”

Print a collar template here

If you don’t get a response, this cat may still have owner identification that you can’t see. The Austin Animal Center, vet offices, Tomlinson’s pet stores, PetSmart with Banfield services, and even your local fire station can scan this cat for a microchip for free to see if she has an owner. Just make sure you transport the cat in a carrier!

Other neighbors may be feeding strictly outdoor cats. We call free roaming cats without identifiable owners ‘community cats’ and their feeders ‘caretakers’. These cats know where to find food, water, and safe resting places in their outdoor territory. Many of them “make the rounds” and you may be a new stop on their daily routine!

You’re not obligated to be a caretaker to this cat but the most important thing is to make sure that this cat is spayed or neutered. See “Shelter Neuter Return” or “Trap Neuter Return” for options.

If a small portion of the cat’s left ear has been surgically removed, that’s called an ‘eartip’. An eartip is a universal sign that this community cat has already been spayed and neutered! 

How can I get help trapping a cat?

Austin Animal Center and Austin Humane Society both have humane trap loan programs.

  • Traps can be borrowed from Austin Humane Society (Monday to Saturday 12pm-7pm and Sunday 12pm-5pm) by leaving a deposit OR they can be purchased for about $70 from a hardware or feed store. Contact the AHS Community Cat team at (512) 685-0111 or communitycats@austinhumanesociety.org to reserve a trap.
  • Email communitycats@austintexas.gov about trap loan from Austin Animal Center

Watch a video on how to Trap Neuter Return and set a trap.

If you have transportation limitations, know of more cats than you can take on, or you just need help trapping, email communitycats@austitnexas.gov to see if a volunteer is able to assist you.  

What can I do if I don't want cats on my property?

Sometimes cats can get into things they shouldn’t. You can discourage unwanted behaviors without harming the cats using humane deterrents. Humane solutions to unwanted behaviors can be found here.

Spaying and neutering cats can also help reduce nuisance behaviors such as fighting and yowling. Talk to your neighbors about our Community Cats program - we can help! Call 311 or email communitycats@austintexas.gov for more info.

What can I do if I want to let my cat outside but I'm worried about her safety?

Cats may be savvy but any animal will face hazards outside. A ‘catio’ or cat patio, offers the best of both worlds! Your cat can be entertained by the outdoors while still staying safe. A catio keeps cats safe from cars, dogs, cat fights, poisoning, extreme weather, people, predators (both on the ground and in the sky), accidents, and more. Not to mention, catios will keep native wildlife safe and improve neighbor relations. 

Catios can be Do It Yourself (DIY) or purchased. They can be customized to fit any budget and home situation. Read more about them here.

If you still plan to let your cat roam, make sure that she is microchipped, has a nametag and collar, and is spayed.

What can I do to help outdoor cats?

It may seem daunting at first to know where to start, but all you need is a willingness to help and learn along the way.

Even the smallest action can make a huge difference to your local community cats.  You can create a winter shelter, become a caretaker, spay or neuter your local cat through the shelter (see ‘Shelter Neuter Return’), become a Trap Neuter Return volunteer trapper, or help the Community Cats program in other ways. 

 

What is Trap-Neuter-Return?

Cats can get pregnant as early as 5 months of age, have a litter size of 3-5 kittens, have 1-3 litters a year, and live up to 10 years outdoors. Free-roaming cats produce approximately 80% of cats born each year. By TNR’ing one cat, you’re saving the lives of dozens of cats that will not have to endure hardship or be homeless.

Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) refers to the process where community cats are humanely trapped, spayed and neutered, and returned to the exact location where they were found. With a conservative estimate of 100,000 free roaming cats in Austin, we need your help to TNR your neighborhood community cats.

The Community Cats program is a partnership between Austin Animal Center and Austin Humane Society. Our dedicated network of volunteer trappers work hard to help their neighbors TNR community cats. Our trappers assist the community to trap, spay, neuter, and return cats throughout Austin. We meet cats in place; cats are trapped and returned to the exact location they were found, allowing them to lead an easier life. Once trapped, that cat will happily be back in its home territory in a matter of days. Cats TNR’d through Community Cats will receive free spay/neuter, an ear tip (the universal sign that a cat has been fixed), antibiotics, a rabies vaccine, and flea treatment.

To request volunteer trapping assistance, please email communiycats@austintexas.gov.

Outside of our jurisdiction? Austin Humane Society can help!

Foster a Pet

What are some of the potential risks of fostering an animal?

Fostering is one of the most rewarding experiences that you can have, but there are some potential risks. While rare, risks include but are not limited to:

  • Other pets in the home could catch a disease and/or a parasite from a foster pet.
  • Foster care providers, members of their household, or visitors could catch a disease and/or parasite from a foster pet.
  • Other pets in the home could be injured or killed by a foster pet.
  • Foster care providers, members of the household, or visitors could be injured by a foster pet.
  • Foster pets could die in foster care or have to return to the shelter to be euthanized.
  • Foster pets may destroy personal items.
Can foster homes adopt their foster pets?

Absolutely! Foster care providers may adopt their foster pet(s), but should notify the foster coordinators of their decision as soon as possible.

How long does an animal need to spend in foster care?

The average time spent in foster care is 2-6 weeks, but may differ depending on the foster animal’s specific needs.

What do foster care providers need?
  • Regular internet and email access
  • Transportation to and from Austin Animal Center
  • Permission from the landlord if renting
  • Enough room in the foster home to isolate foster pets from owned pets
  • Up-to-date rabies vaccinations for all pets in the home
  • We also strongly encourage interested foster care providers to discuss fostering with their veterinarian, as their veterinarian may suggest additional vaccinations to protect owned pets
What does the shelter provide in order to help care for the foster animals?

Nursing cats and dogs and puppies and kittens are provided with food. Adult dogs and cats - due to their unique dietary needs - are not provided food. All vet care is provided by the shelter while it remains in foster care. Toys, bedding, litter and liter boxes, bowls, crates, etc are expected to be provided by the foster home.

Services & Resources

Does the Austin Animal Center provide free microchipping or ID tags?

Yes! If you are a City of Austin or Travis County resident, you can get a free microchip and ID tag for your pet by visiting Austin Animal Center any day between 11 am and 7 pm. 

What can I do about my pet’s behavior issues?

If you are facing behavioral issues with your pet, there is help!

For personalized recommendations, reach out to the Austin Animal Center’s Behavior Team at animal.behavior@austintexas.gov.

You can also reach out to Friends of Austin Animal Center for free training vouchers!

What can I do if my dog keeps escaping?

Is your dog spayed/neutered? That can be a BIG help in preventing your dog from wanting to roam. 

Is your dog getting enough attention and exercise? If they’re bored, they’re more likely to try to get out and have an adventure.

Need help with fencing or a doghouse? 

Leaving a dog alone on a chain or a tether is prohibited by city law (Austin City Code Section 3-4-2)

Where can I find services outside of Austin/Travis County?

Check out page 5 of our Pet Reunification Guide for a list of surrounding shelters. 

Where can I get pet food?

If you are facing temporary hardship and need assistance with pet food, our Pet Resource Center can help. Contact us at pet.resources@austintexas.gov

Are you a Meals on Wheels client? The PALS program can help with food and veterinary assistance.

Why should I spay/neuter my pet?

Top 5 Reasons to Spay/Neuter Your Pet

  1. Your pet will be healthier. Spaying your female pet helps prevent breast cancer and uterine infections which can be deadly. Neutering your male pet prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems.
  2. There’s less of a mess. Female dogs bleed during their heat cycle and female cats pee more often, sometimes all over the house. Male dogs and cats both mark their territories by peeing everywhere.
  3. It encourages better behavior. Male dogs and cats that are not neutered have hormones running through their body that tell them to search for a mate. This means they’re less able to focus on you and being well-behaved. It also helps with aggressive behavior that comes from being territorial.
  4. Your pet won’t want to roam. An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate! That includes digging his way under the fence to escape from the house. And once he's free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other males.
  5. It’s a lifesaver. Austin Animal Center is full of unwanted pets, many from accidental litters. Spaying or neutering pets prevents accidental litters and helps reduce the number of unwanted animals.