Texas "No Kill", Economic Impacts

Legislating Components of a Humane City: 
The Economic Impacts of the Austin, Texas "No Kill" Resolution
(City of Austin Resolution 20091105-040) 

Prepared by: Sloane Hawes, MSW¹, Devrim Ikizler, PhD², Katy Loughney, MBA¹, Philip Tedeschi, MSSW¹, and Kevin Morris, PhD¹,3 

Institute for Human-Animal Connection, Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver¹ 
Magee and Magee Consulting² 
Corresponding author: kevin.morris@du.edu3 

Prepared for: WaterShed Animal Fund
Release Date: October 16, 2017

Executive Summary

A Humane City is characterized by the presence of leadership, institutions, and policies working collaboratively across systems to create and implement sustainable human, animal, and environmental welfare. In addition to improving animal welfare, cities that align their policies with humane tenets of compassionate engagement may accrue important economic, public health, and social benefits for their human residents. This report investigates and measures the economic impacts of the City of Austin Resolution 20091105-040, commonly referred to as the “No Kill” resolution, utilizing standard impact assessment methodology. Resolution 20091105-040 resulted in the implementation of a series of recommendations that included achieving and maintaining a 90% Live Release Rate for all companion animals housed at the City of Austin’s municipal animal shelter. In order to effectively determine the impact of Resolution 20091105-040, this study utilized data obtained from a variety of sources, including Austin Animal Center (the municipal animal shelter), Austin Pets Alive! (a private, non-profit animal shelter that takes in Austin Animal Center’s “at risk” for euthanasia animals), public information requests, survey responses from Austin residents, the U.S. Census Bureau County Business Patterns report, American Housing Survey reports, and IMPLAN software. 

The economic impact of Resolution 20091105-040 has been measured with consideration for the increased costs and economic outputs resulting from the changes in shelter operations, the potential growth in utilization of veterinary and pet care services, and the potential increases in retail sales of pet products in the Austin/Travis County area. Calculations were also used to estimate the more indirect impacts on the City of Austin’s brand equity. Over the period of study (2010-2016), the regional economic impact of the Resolution has been conservatively measured as follows: 

Impacts: 
Resolution Premium ($30,379,667) 
Shelter Operations $40,938,565
Veterinary/Pet Care Services $49,307,682
Pet Retail Services $25,333,237
City of Austin Brand Equity $72,252,686 

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TOTAL ECONOMIC IMPACT $157,452,503

In addition to exploring the specific economic impacts of Resolution 20091105-040, this report also outlines, but does not quantify, the potential broader impacts of the Resolution on human, animal, and environmental health. These areas of impact include: public health, social capital, and community engagement. 

Overall, this report concludes that a high Live Release Rate is achievable on a community-wide level. However, Resolution 20091105-040 has resulted in a considerably higher than average cost per animal served by Austin Animal Center when compared to previous City of Austin expenditures and several other major U.S. cities1. These costs are balanced by a series of economic and public health benefits that may be accrued across the community. These findings are largely generalizable due to the utilization of conservative data assumptions and standard economic analyses. Austin’s municipal shelter undertook a major operational shift to implement the legislation, which required coordinated and sustained collaboration between Austin’s animal welfare organizations, city policies, city leadership, and citizens (both pet-keeping and otherwise). A city’s decision to implement comparable policies should be made with consideration for the capacity of the existing animal welfare organizations, the cost and resources needed from both community members and partner organizations, and the ethical balance the community seeks to achieve between the animal welfare issues associated with euthanasia versus extended lengths of stay under sheltering conditions. 

To read the rest of this report, download the entire PDF report here

Texas Pets Alive