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Ryan Clinton wants to make animal shelters 'no kill' zones

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The Pets Alive! staff works with them all – almost never giving up on an animal, Clinton says. Staff and volunteers sometimes stay up all night bottle-feeding babies or spend long hours rehabilitating aggressive animals.

"We just want to give every animal a chance," says Clinton, as he maneuvers through an area with donated pet supplies stacked to the ceiling. This summer was particularly busy, he says, because of the wildfires that raged in central Texas. Austin Pets Alive! rescued hundreds of animals at shelters affected by the fires – and then found homes for them.

It's not rocket science, Clinton says, but it does take work. The key is having adoption centers in a variety of places in communities and offering services such as "pet fostering" (volunteers who give short-term care to shelter animals in their homes), and then constantly getting the word out.

Today, animals that were being given up on are being adopted – no matter their age, breed, or the extra care they may need.

"Most shelters are in out-of-the-way places and do a poor job of communicating their needs. Then the shelters complain that it's the public's fault that they have to kill as many animals as they do," Clinton says. "There are no excuses here."

Recently Marianne and Nathaniel Iverson visited Austin Pets Alive! because they heard that it needed volunteers. They stood close to each other cuddling a kitten just old enough to be adopted.

"We came to walk dogs, but we are going home with another cat, aren't we?" says Mrs. Iverson, looking at her husband. Austin Pets Alive! regularly provides them with information and asks them to help in its grass-roots effort, they say.

Because so many communities are asking Austin Pets Alive! how to make a "no kill" policy work for them, the group recently formed American Pets Alive!, says Ellen Jefferson, executive director of Austin Pets Alive!

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