American Pets Alive! Creating a No Kill Nation

Can you imagine America becoming a No Kill Nation? American Pets Alive! can and it is our mission. AmPA! is dedicated to making America No-Kill by hosting a yearly National Conference that shares Austin Pets Alive!’s innovative No-Kill programs to educate rescues and communities across the country on how to adopt our methods and end the unnecessary killing of companion animals.


As the AmPA! Conference Coordinator, is it my job to help animal welfare advocates and concerned citizens from across the country develop No-Kill programs or guide them through the initial steps to No-Kill. Before I get in to how Austin Pets Alive! started and just how influential our programs and conferences are, I want to share my story before joining Austin & American Pets Alive!.

My entire life I have been an animal lover and I even carried my love of animals to the books and studied Animal Science at Texas A&M University. Over 2 years ago, an opportunity arose for me to become the Director of Development at a shelter where I grew up. I immediately jumped at it! This was my chance to finally make a real difference for animals that are in dire need. Unfortunately, this shelter took in around 40,000 animals a year and was, and still is, a high kill shelter. I knew the stats and I took it as a challenge to help raise the live release rate and help give these animals a second chance at life.

This was my first encounter into the world of animal welfare (besides my family and I running our own little operation behind our dad’s back). It was a harsh reality that this killing happens not only in my hometown, but all over America. Often, it was difficult to deal with. There were so many animals coming in and not enough getting out. I would hear our Director and some staff give excuses like “We have a huge pet overpopulation problem”, “It is the public’s fault”, “Costs too much to save them all”, ‘Not enough homes”, “These animals are not adoptable”, and “What else are we to do with the animals we cannot adopt or rescue out besides humanely put them down?”. Many of us who were trying to save so many finally grew accustom and believed these excuses. How could we know any different? We started to blame the public and decided that euthanasia was the only option for all these (treatable and savable) pets.

After a year and a half, I did all that I could. I doubled our social media following, doubled adoptions, raised over $400,00, started two new and wildly successful events that are now a part of their yearly schedule, more than tripled their Foster and Volunteer Program and most importantly hired compassionate and passionate staff. None of that was enough and did not make an impact on those animals that needed it most. Changes I wanted made to help the other 70%+, animals who didn’t stand a chance, were shot down time after time. All we would hear is reasons why saving those specific animals wouldn’t work and that was that. No open-mindedness or any conversations of possible solutions to help these pets live. I finally knew what it was like to be one of those caged animals knowing I can’t get out and it broke my heart. I decided it was time for me to start a new route in life and move to Austin, TX.

There is where my mind was blown. Pets everywhere! At restaurants, huge dog parks, walking around in the malls, hanging out at bars, dog friendly offices! I quickly came to understand that Austin is the largest No Kill City in the country. People lived and breathed for their pets. If a pet was lost in the middle of the road, you better believe 20 cars stopped to help director traffic and safely catch the animal and return it to the owner. I wanted to learn how the whole Austin area became No-Kill and how they created this, what I considered, phenomenon. Just ask anyone about/who sparked this this culture and time and time again they will say “Austin Pets Alive!”.

When Austin Pets Alive! (APA!) started rescuing animals in 2008, Austin was somewhat rich in resources that prevented births. For almost ten years, more and more resources were put into spay and neuter programs, but the live outcome rate at their city shelter was stuck around 50%. While several resources were going into prevention and reducing intake, there was no effort to increase live outcomes from the shelter. APA! saw that gap and created programs to save the key demographics of pets that hadn’t been making it out of our municipal shelter alive: puppies with parvovirus, dogs with behavior challenges, cats with Ringworm, FeLV+ cats, unweaned kittens, under socialized cats, dogs and cats in need of additional behavioral support and/or additional medical attention. By developing comprehensive, innovative programs that targeted these key groups of animals and pulling directly from euthanasia lists, APA! has saved more than 35,000 dogs and cats since 2008. This year Austin celebrated their 5th year as remaining the largest No Kill City.

I was lucky enough to join APA! in December of 2015 as their Conference Coordinator for their program American Pets Alive! (AmPA!). In just 2 months, I learned everything I needed to know about becoming No-Kill and how many different types of rescues and communities have joined the No Kill Movement. It has worked in wealthy cities, poor cities, rural areas, urban areas, organizations with large budgets and organizations with shoestring budgets (like the City of Seagoville with a budget of less than $30,000 a year). All the different excuses I heard while working back in my previous job were nullified. I quickly realized that majority of animal shelters across the US were stuck in the “Dark Ages” and they simply do not have the resources or knowledge of is this modern type of animal sheltering/rescuing. I know from personal experience, that there are many people in the animal sheltering world that want to save all the animals and simply have no clue how. It is my job to reach out, inform them of this amazing program and how they can start saving lives today.

I realized I was having AHA!’s left and right! My first AHA moment was placing under socialized cats in the Barn Cat Program. These cats are adopted to families who appreciate ‘working cats’ for critter patrol and can provide a safe, appropriate environment such as a barn, stable, garage, or warehouse. My second AHA! moment was how to handle FeLV+ cats. Feline Leukemia (FeLV) is a highly contagious virus and because of the highly contagious nature of disease, FeLV+ cats are kept isolated from other cats who are not infected in a special sanctuary that these kitties can call home until their forever family finds them. My final AHA, was becoming No-Kill is only possible by having a compassionate director who would take a stance and keep on fighting to save as many lives as they can no matter the number of “Nos” or the excuses of “it won’t work”. You must have a strong leader with solutions instead of excuses.

This hit me like a ton of bricks. Becoming No-Kill is easy and APA! is in a key position to help other rescues, organizations and communities across the country since they are the leaders in the No Kill Movement. For this reason, APA! developed American Pets Alive! and decided to create a yearly National No-Kill Conference. We know there are lots of animal welfare conferences, but there is only one conference with one, single objective: teaching you exactly how to save more lives.

The AmPA! Conference was started with a clear purpose, in just three days, YOU can learn what what otherwise may take months or years. At AmPA!, you’ll leave with detailed, proven strategies to stop killing in your community. Whether you’re a shelter director employee, a volunteer, foster or community advocate, you’ll go home with the tools and knowledge to make immediate change. Here in Austin, we have the benefit of five years of proven No Kill Success under our belts and we will show you how to same them all because we have the answers.

I am happy to say, the previous shelter I was employed at will be attending the 2016 Conference.

AmPA! National Conference will be held on November 5-7, 2016 at the University of Texas Thompson Conference Center in Austin, TX.

For more information on Austin Pets Alive! you can visit us at and for information on American Pets Alive! and conference details visit or email

Guest post: Margot McClelland
American Pets Alive! Conference Coordinator

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Wiener dog lovers, we have a giveaway for you!

WIENER DOG INTERNATIONALS hits the screen and brings fun for the entire family. We have two copies to giveaway to two lucky winners!

The Action-Packed Epic Adventure Arrives on Digital HD, DVD and On Demand Available February 16

Join Shelly, the U.S. wiener dog racing champion, on the adventure of a lifetime when Wiener Dog Internationals barks its way to DVD! Receiving the Dove Foundation seal of approval and starring Golden Globe® nominee Morgan Fairchild (Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2), Bryan Batt (TV’s “Mad Men”)and Jason London (Dazed and Confused), Wiener Dog Internationals is a wholesome movie the entire family can enjoy! The Wiener Dog Internationals DVD, including four “Minuscule” bonus episodes.

The Jack family is at it again, as they enter the International World of Wiener Dog Racing. The kids sneak away to enter Shelly in the Internationals, and find themselves caught in a devious plot hatched by Miss Merryweather that may change wiener dog races forever! Can little Shelly, the champion dog from the U.S., really take on the world?

Want a chance to win? Use the form below! This giveaway is open to those in the USA only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in giveaways, movies | 2 Comments

“The Champions” documentary now available for download

“The Champions” is an important film that tells story of pit bulls rescued and rehabilitated from Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring. The film deliberately avoids visuals of dog fighting and cruelty to animals, so please do not be afraid to see the film. The film is a very inspiring and uplifting experience!

The Champions

The Champions documentary, the inspirational story about the pit bull terriers rescued from the brutal fighting ring of NFL star Michael Vick, will be widely available for audiences everywhere to download directly from Best Friends Animal Society and The film will also be available for download on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Video and VuDu.

The Champions is a story of hope, redemption and second chances – chronicling the work of animal welfare organizations like Best Friends Animal Society who agreed to take in 22 dogs despite pressures to euthanize them. The award-winning film has worked to change perceptions of pit bulls at film festivals across the country, including the Hamptons International Film Festival, DOC NYC and most recently the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, among others.

“This story proves that even creatures who have suffered the most unimaginable abuse have amazing strength, spirit, and resilience,” said Darcy Dennett, director and producer for The Champions. “But the film also looks at how pit bull terrier-type dogs are discriminated against as a breed.”

In an effort to educate the public about pit bull terrier-like dogs, the film also will be shown at community screenings in 20 cities around the country. The communities were chosen because of existing Breed-Discriminatory Legislation, which targets certain breeds of dogs, or laws that stigmatize canine victims of cruelty who are seized in connection with dog fighting. Legislation to overturn these inhumane laws is pending or has recently passed in several of these communities.

The Champions

“Prior to the Michael Vick case, the traditional, historic treatment of dogs from fight busts was simply to regard them as damaged goods and to kill them,” said Francis Battista, co-founder of Best Friends Animal Society. “All along, we’ve been advocating for them to be given a chance. Our experience has shown that there’s no need to be afraid of the dogs or blame them, just because of the situation they came from.”

Best Friends Animal Society will host community screening of The Champions in 20 cities. For the full list of cities and dates, check here.

To learn more about The Champions and watch the trailer, visit:

About Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends Animal Society is the only national animal welfare organization dedicated exclusively to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters. A leader in the no-kill movement, Best Friends runs the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals, adoption centers and spay and neuter facilities in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City as well as lifesaving programs in partnership with more than 1,300 rescue groups and shelters across the country. Since its founding in 1984, Best Friends has helped reduce the number of animals killed in American shelters from 17 million per year to an estimated 4 million. By continuing to build effective initiatives that reduce the number of animals entering shelters and increase the number who find homes, Best Friends and its nationwide network of members and partners are working to Save Them All®.

Become a fan of Best Friends Animal Society on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.

About Director/Producer Darcy Dennett

Darcy Dennett directed and produced the documentary The Champions, about the pit-bulls rescued from the dog-fighting ring of NFL’s Michael Vick, an inspirational story of resilience and the significance of the relationship humans have with animals. In 2013, Dennett produced a segment in Nigeria for Oprah’s landmark series Belief. She was the series producer of National Geographic’s Dogtown, directed episodes of Our America with Lisa Ling, and produced a multi-million dollar advertising campaign for HSBC with some of National Geographic’s best photographers, around the world. Darcy studied film at Wesleyan, lives in NYC, and has traveled to over 50 countries. For more Information about Darcy, visit:

Posted in dogs, events, movies, people helping animals, rescues | 1 Comment

The Good Dinosaur

If you are looking for a cute movie that you can watch with your family The Good Dinosaur is a great choice! Sweet, funny, and with a cute twist on who the “pet” is, the movie is fun for all ages.

The movie is out today for your enjoyment at home, and it comes with all kinds of great special features! That is one of our favorite parts of owning movies, all the fun extras, and The Good Dinosaur doesn’t disappoint! For example, have you ever wondered what it might take to get a “roar” just right?

Special features:

  • Theatrical Short: “Sanjay’s Super Team” (when we watched this with our nieces and nephews who are 5 and 3, they found it scary).
  • The Filmmakers’ Journey: Director Peter Sohn And Team Share Their Experience Of Making The Movie
  • Hide And Seek: Watch A Short Animated Promotional Clip
  • True Lies About Dinosaurs: Learn What Separates The Movie’s Dinosaurs From Real Ones
  • Recyclosaurus: The Crew Competes To Create The Best Dinosaur Ever… From Discarded Items!
  • Every Part Of The Dinosaur: Explore The Movie’s Special Animation Challenges
  • Following The T-Rex Trail: Meet The Family Who Inspired The T-Rex Ranchers
  • Deleted Scenes With Intros: View Scenes Developed For Previous Versions Of The Movie

There may be some parts very young kids could find scary, this is a PG rating so keep that in mind. Our family really enjoyed it, both kids and adults alike!

*We received a review copy in exchange for our honest review, all thoughts are ours.*

Posted in just for fun, movies | 3 Comments