Animal-Welfare Advocates Release Council Candidate Ratings
May 4, 2009 — FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
Martinez, Spelman, Riley and Cavazos notch highest ratings on animal-welfare issues; Cole criticized for backtracking on commitment to dedicated downtown adoption center.

AUSTIN, TX - Austin animal-welfare think tank FixAustin.org became the latest group to chime in on Austin’s upcoming City Council elections, releasing its annual Voter Information Guide.  The group gave incumbent Mike Martinez, returning Council Member Bill Spelman, and newcomers Chris Riley and Perla Cavazos its highest “5 Paw” Rating.

“Austinites want to know which candidates are going to be the best stewards of our community’s companion animals,” said group spokesman and local attorney Lorri Michel.  Michel continued, “This year, the candidates that best reflect our community’s progressive values on animal welfare are Mike Martinez, Bill Spelman, Chris Riley, and Perla Cavazos.”

FixAustin.org is best known for its 2007 campaign to stop the City from relocating Austin’s animal shelter from downtown to the eastern edge of the City.  In response to FixAustin.org’s efforts and its over 7,000 supporters, the Council passed a compromise plan that will keep open part of the downtown shelter as an adoption center for impounded animals.

The group’s founder, appellate attorney Ryan Clinton, expressed cautious optimism for Austin’s lost and homeless pets.  Clinton said, “Since 2000, Austin’s pound has killed more than 100,000 adoptable dogs and cats, while other communities have largely ended shelter killing.  But with candidates like Martinez, Spelman, Riley and Cavazos on the ballot, we look forward to the day when Austin’s pound becomes a national leader in implementing life-saving programs and policies.”

Austin’s Town Lake Animal Center has killed an average of 12,000 lost and homeless dogs and cats each year since 2000—about half of the animals it has impounded during the period.  So far this year, the pound has killed fewer animals than any other year this decade.

Incumbent Council Member Sheryl Cole received the group’s lowest rating this election period, due to Cole’s deference to shelter bureaucrats on critical policy decisions, and her expressed support for officing City employees in the building remaining at TLAC rather than entirely dedicating the facility to a full-scale adoption center.  The group says Mayoral candidate and current Council Member Lee Leffingwell has recently demonstrated a greater interest in improving the outlook for Austin’s pets.

Some candidates were not scored due to lack of information.