Austin Pets Alive! Announces Maternity Ward
By Sheila Appleby Williams
Celebrity Pug, Phoebe Rose took the opportunity while still visiting Austin, Texas, to peek in at the newborn Collie-mix pups and their Mom, Philly, at Austin Pets Alive! (APA) Maternity Ward.
APA’s website explains that “The idea for a maternity ward came from the need to be able to immediately save a pregnant mom or mommy dog and her babies at a moment’s notice.”
“Pregnant moms and their families are two groups highly at risk at the city’s Austin Animal Center (AAC) because they are not eligible for adoption until eight-weeks-old, so they take up kennel space that the city cannot spare. They can also be tricky to place in foster, as the responsibility for caring for a mom and her babies for an eight-week duration is a long commitment. So, in order to be able to take them in immediately while we wait for foster homes to come forward, we needed a solution: a special space just for them, a maternity room!”
Operations Manager, Faith Wright, a former paralegal and APA volunteer, gave us a warm welcome and tour of The Maternity Ward, sponsored by a private donation of $1500 that led to the conversion of one of the former administrative offices into two condo-style runs prioritizing safety and privacy.
The softly lit space is kept calm and den-like with background music to drown out some of the unavoidable shelter sounds and get the animals used to noises, explained Faith.
The air-conditioned space also has its own stash of supplies to keep these families comfortable while they wait for foster.
Ms. Wright explained that solely volunteers run the Foster Program, as no funding is available. “There can be up to 300 dogs in foster homes on a given day,” she said.
At least 60 dogs were “saved” in the last 7 days by APA, according to Ms. Wright, a canine Mom to 6 pups, who regularly takes home bottle babies for their 2 hour round the clock feedings.
The Staff check on Mom and babies 4X daily, provide dry and wet food at all times and ensure that the ward is scrupulously cleaned.
Philly (still very shy and withdrawn) had given birth in an Austin shelter prior to being rescued by APA – 48 hours from being euthanized. The pups were quietly nursing as Philly rested in a plastic swimming pool that accommodates her babies-6 girls and 1 boy, while waiting for a foster home.
We joined Ms. Wright in her office – to watch the bottle feeding (and burping) of 2-week-old puppies. Their Mom had died the day before and they were abandoned at a shelter in Bastrop.
APA! provides a complete medical workup including spay/neuter on every animal before adoption. This lessens the financial burden on the adopter, and ensures that placed animals do not contribute to more pets in the community.
Austin Pets Alive! (APA!), founded in 1997, is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to stopping the killing of Austin’s adoptable dogs and cats.
Austin Pets Alive! Maternity Ward Wish list:
Puppy milk replacer
Monetary donations urgently needed as these programs are hardest hit in the summer-when donations dwindle.
For more information:
- visit www.austinpetsalive.org
Photos courtesy of the author.