Ryan Clinton wants to make animal shelters 'no kill' zones
Ryan Clinton helped make Austin, Texas, a 'no kill' zone for shelter animals. His next goal: The rest of the US.
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Today, animals that were being given up on are being adopted – no matter their age, breed, or the extra care they may need.Skip to next paragraph
"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!
"Ryan really needs to be recognized as a leader in this grass-roots movement. He taught me that change was possible," says Dr. Jefferson, who says she used to think that spaying and neutering was the only way to keep shelter deaths down: The fewer the number of animals going in, the fewer put to death later.
But now, she says, she sees them as just one piece of a larger puzzle.
"Cities are going to get to 'no kill' sooner rather than later," Jefferson says. "The idea is becoming the expected norm. And Ryan should be given a lot of credit for making that happen."
Clinton has been recognized for his work both locally and nationally. When he is not working on shelter issues, he is practicing appellate law for a firm in Dallas.
Formerly a state assistant solicitor general, Clinton successfully defended Texas A&M University in litigation arising from the collapse of a Texas Aggie pep rally bonfire in 1999. He has been named one of Texas's best appellate attorneys under 40 years old seven times by Texas Monthly magazine. Last year, Clinton was a finalist for the Austin Under 40 young professional of the year award.
"Everyone needs an advocate," he says of his animal welfare work, in a modest and lawyerly way. "And this was a solvable problem."
•For more, visit: FixAustin.org and austinpetsalive.org
• For more stories about people making a difference, click here.