An Interview with Justin Theroux's Favorite Animal Shelter: Austin Pets Alive!

An Interview with Justin Theroux's Favorite Animal Shelter: Austin Pets Alive!

How celebs and social media impact “no-kill” shelters.

By Marni Eth

In the heart of Austin, Texas, lives a nonprofit organization named Austin Pets Alive! (APA!), which has saved more than 40,000 cats and dogs from being euthanized. It’s no surprise that such an awesome organization has a number of celebrity fans, including Willie Nelson and his daughter, Amy. Jennifer Aniston's beau, Justin Theroux, recently got involved with the shelter, making a big impact on their May fundraiser!

APA! has played a huge role in making Austin the “Largest No-Kill City in America” for the past seven years by creating innovative, specialized programs that rescue pets from kill shelters and make them prime candidates for adoption. Their Valentine’s Day weekend campaign alone led to a whopping 271 pets adopted! Unleashed caught up with APA!’s Marketing and Communications Director, Mary Heerwald, to learn more about how celebrities and social media help to save more pets.

How did Justin Theroux become involved with APA!?

Justin first came to APA! while he was filming The Leftovers in the Austin area. He visited because he knew that we work with a population of dogs he really cares about, and he has been incredibly kind to APA! ever since. He has a soft spot for senior pitbull-type mixes! Since then, he has visited APA! a few times when he's back in town. We're always thankful for his visits, the effect he has on adoptions, and the exposure he helps bring our shelter. Last time he was in town, in May, he even did a shout-out for our fundraiser that month!

How helpful is it for celebrities to post their support for a specific shelter?

Celebrity support has undeniable value for our shelter. Aside from helping specific animals get adopted (who doesn't want to take home the pup who received kisses from Justin Theroux?), they can also bring critical awareness of our programming. APA! has actually revolutionized the way lifesaving is done in shelters and has pioneered many programs that are now being replicated across the country: our bottle baby kitten Neonatal Nursery and our Parvo Puppy ICU. Celebrities can help spread the word about what happens here in our shelter, which extends to an audience far beyond our local reach, and that can help more lifesaving efforts across the country.

How has social media changed the way APA showcases animals for adoptions?

Social media has had a significant impact on the way we showcase adoptable dogs and cats. We're able to call attention to specific animals, do fun features on them, and get creative with Facebook and Instagram live videos, so people can see what it's like to interact with them! Social media is also an incredibly important tool for marketing our adoption events, whether they be large or small-scale. Another way social media promotion has been important is for many of our medical cases that require fundraising in advance of being able to perform a specific procedure or administer medicine. We call these "Medical Chip-Ins," and we post them to our blog then share them out on social channels so that our community is aware of animals who need medical attention. This is also a way for people to give to specific animals, which we know is meaningful to our donors.

What are some ways ordinary folks can help?

Our entire shelter functions because of the support we receive from the community. Our capacity to save lives is at the mercy of the kindness we receive from individuals and businesses alike. We're always thankful for monetary donations (you can donate here!), as well as in-kind donations from our wish-list. Other ways people can get involved are by fostering a pet or volunteering at the shelter - we have over 2,000 active volunteers!

One dog that Justin Theroux played with is still up for adoption at APA! Honey (above) is currently in a foster home and is a huge sweetheart; you can learn more about her here!

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