In The Press
The Lifelines Project: Documenting the bond between the homeless and their pets
September 4, 2012
Wednesday is a regal black and golden dog, obviously healthy and cared for. “She comes first, before I do,” says Wednesday’s owner, Pops.
“I love her attitude, that’s what drew me to her. Even when she was six-weeks-old, she thought she owned the world. I always make sure she’s got food and water. I carry two backpacks: One’s mine, and I carry a second one that’s full of nothing but stuff that belongs to her.”
“You can’t judge somebody because they live out here. Most of the people I know who live out here on the streets, their dogs are healthy, they’re happy.”
The reason Pops is carrying around these backpacks is because he is homeless, but Wednesday is a vital part of his life. It’s bonds like that between Pops and Wednesday that are the reason for The Lifelines Project, a multi-media exploration documenting the unique lifestyle shared by people without shelter and the animals they rely on for companionship.
Many homeless pet owners use what little resources they do have to provide care and sustenance to their animal — food, bedding, etc. — because their love for their pet surpasses all other priorities, and in many situations, they have little left for their own material needs.
These series of images captured by photographer Norah Levine are intended to honor the travelers that have found refuge in this tolerant city and those suddenly without housing due to economic circumstances. All subjects are pet owners whose commonality is a commitment to giving their animal the care it deserves, no matter the cost.
“It felt really great to have the privilege of going into these people’s lives,” says Levine. “We’re not taking snapshots as we walk by. They’re letting us, in some cases, into their camps. They wanted to share with the public their stories. They wanted to share their love for their animals. This project has given me kind of a rite of passage into their lives for a little bit.”
Though the subject matter of homelessness is not a happy one, Levine adds that she’s an upbeat photographer by nature and wants people to feel good when they look at her images. “I wanted to find the joy that existed in the subject matter.”
“I’ve seen people that have houses, that neglect dogs,” Pops says. “You can’t judge somebody because they live out here. Most of the people I know who live out here on the streets, their dogs are healthy, they’re happy… they’re protection to wake you up at night.”
The Lifelines Project benefit will be held on Thursday, September 6 at the J. Clark Photography Gallery & Workshop, 1500 West Sixth Street, from 6:30 – 9 pm. You can click here to RSVP; there is no cost to attend the event, and all donations will go to Animal Trustees of Austin’s 4PAWS program.
Volunteer vet fashions fix for Frankie
August 7, 2012
AUSTIN (KXAN) – Frankie the duck had a proverbial hitch in his (or her) proverbial get-along. More on the hitch in a moment.
First let’s deal with the “his or her” thing. You see, birds are notoriously difficult to sex. Many times, it takes surgery to clarify what parts are at work, until that is, eggs start dropping.
So when Nancy Butlin wandered into a local feed store and spied a tiny duckling dragging one of its feet around inside a large box, she decreed the bird a female. Hedging her bets, though, Butlin decided to name the duck, Frankie, figuring that would work either way.
When Butlin called Frankie to a clerk’s attention, she got permission to take the $3 critter home for free. But it was just heartbreaking for the Butlin family members to watch the poor bird struggle to walk.
“We love her and we’d love to help her but we really can’t get into thousands of dollars of vet bills for a $3 duck
In fact, Nancy had promised her husband she wouldn’t commit the household to “footing” big vet bills, so she pitched a story about Frankie to KXAN News.
The resulting story led to veterinary surgeon Dr. Kirk Lewis at Animal Trustees of Austin volunteering to perform a surgical fix for a fraction of the normal cost.
Lewis, though, without digging for confirmation, decreed Frankie a male. Therefore in the following story, the words “he” and “she” shall appear from time to time and let’s all agree to assume we are talking about the same animal.
The problem was this: Imagine your leg, about halfway between your knee and your ankle, suddenly takes a 90-degree turn and sticks straight out.
“His, like basically our shin bone, his tibia,” said Dr. Lewis, “it just may have been injured when he was really young or just had a growth deficiency.
“And what happened is it caused that leg to basically turn 90 degrees. So the inside of his foot was actually turned up; it actually rotated up.”
As a result, Frankie would take a step with his left leg and then drag her right leg along, resulting in heavy pressure on the top of the right foot. It wasn’t pretty and it would make escaping a predator impossible.
To remedy the situation, Dr. Lewis decided to cut a pie-piece-shaped wedge out of the bone at the outside point of the turn. He then forced a metal pin down into the bottom part of the bone, then into the top, forcing the leg to straighten out.
Suturing the wound, the surgeon then wrapped the leg in gauze for protection before taping an exterior splint to the resulting gauze bandage for stability.
“That’s a much better leg; a lot straighter,” the doctor said, admiring his handiwork.
For the Butlin family, though, there will be some homework.
“He’s going to have to have some physical therapy,” said Lewis, “to stretch that joint back out because he’s had it tucked for so long and that’s how he’s been walking on it, kind of upside down. So we’ve got to retrain that joint, you know, to stretch it back out.”
The prognosis, though, is apparently excellent.
“It will come around,” Lewis said, “because he’s young and still growing…he should be just fine.”
The surgeon expects Frankie to be on his/her feet and chasing bugs at full speed in as little as a month to six weeks.
Not bad for a $3 duck.
Spirit of giving on display in Central Texas
October 23, 2011
Central Texans are never shy with criticism or opinions, but we repeatedly have demonstrated an ability to shove differences aside in times of need.
Even more heartening is that Central Texans — so generous with their opinions — are becoming more generous with their money. Central Texans also have a reputation as willing volunteers.
Two related but widely different events demonstrated that willingness to pitch in as well as a migration toward a full embrace of philanthropy.
There was, of course, the sold-out event at the Erwin Center to benefit the victims of the Labor Day weekend wildfires that inflicted millions of dollars in damage, as well as heartache that can’t be measured in dollars, on Bastrop and other area communities.
Texas musicians, including Ray Benson, leader of the band Asleep at the Wheel; Lyle Lovett; Willie Nelson; George Strait; the Dixie Chicks; Augie Meyers; Flaco Jimenez; and Eric Johnson lent time and talent to put on a spectacular evening of entertainment. Benson joked that it all started with a phone call from Johnson suggesting a benefit concert for the fire victims. “So we picked up the phone and called Willie.”
That business about virtue being its own reward was confirmed by the response from the musicians and the people who went to see them. For the small price of a ticket, concertgoers were treated to the rare sight of Benson backing Lovett, Meyers and other acts. It was a treat for the audience and a $725,000 injection into the relief fund managed by the Austin Community Foundation.
The concert was Oct. 17, but the celebration of giving wasn’t over when Strait bid the audience a good night.
On Tuesday, the Austin Community Foundation assembled a crowd for dinner at the Four Seasons to recognize the people and organizations whose efforts improve the lives and fortunes of Central Texans. The good news was that Central Texans continue to give despite a shaky economy — an economy that’s going to increase cries for help.
The object of the evening was to recognize those who have answered and continue to answer those cries. The foundation recognized these individuals:
Ann Showers Butler, for philanthropic leadership.
Edith Royal, for her volunteer work on behalf of Austin Recovery Center.
Sandra Martin, founder and director of the Center for Child Protection, which offers a safe environment for children who have suffered abuse to tell about what happened to them.
John Blazier, for his long-term work on behalf of Austin public schools and encouraging others to follow his example of giving.
Also recognized were the Austin Humane Society, Animal Trustees of Austin and Emancipet for their work in making the most out of the money they receive.
The recognitions were well deserved. The recipients have all established well-documented track records in helping others improve their lives.
The applause for those who give was equally enthusiastic at both venues, and both the entertainers and the foundation’s award recipients deserve it. More, they deserve our help and encouragement, and beyond that, they deserve all of us to follow in their examples.
We have often said on this page that we are blessed to share a very special region.
It’s not just the geography that makes Central Texas special — it’s the people. Some of them need help to navigate through life’s troubles. That more people are willing to give money as well as time to help is more filling than a Four Seasons dinner and more satisfying than a night of fantastic music.
Those events and the people who put them together were more blessings for us to count.
Booqoos Partners with the Animal Trustees of Austin to Promote Canine Dental Health and a Fundraising Drive
October 5, 2011
Booqoos and the Animal Trustees of Austin (ATA) have joined forces to promote discounted canine dental services and a coupon fundraising campaign . This collaborative effort promotes pet health & wellness, as well as raises funds to continue ATA’s valuable work in the community.
Beginning October 1, 2011, a limited number of coupons for discounted canine dental services will be made available for purchase at http://www.booqoos.com. Good dental care is as important for dogs as it is for humans. Regular teeth cleaning and polishing is an important part of wellness care, and can help prevent the progression of dental disease and more serious health problems.
There will also be 3,000 fundraising coupons available at http://www.booqoos.com for purchase for $10 each. There is no limit on the number of fundraising coupons that can be purchased. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of these coupons will go directly to ATA’s Emergency Care Fund. The ATA Emergency Care Fund was established in response to the large number of animals in need of emergency care. Guardians desperate for help, and unable to afford the high cost of emergency treatment often bring their pets to the ATA for assistance. These animals receive immediate intervention and the care they need due to funding from the ATA Emergency Care Fund. Last year the ATA treated 34,500 animals from Central Texas thanks to this fund.
Founded and based in Austin, Texas, Booqoos is a next-generation online discount marketplace that simplifies the discounting process for local small- and medium-sized businesses. Based on a platform of do-it-yourself marketing tools, Booqoos provides a powerful solution for businesses to have complete control and self-management of deals to suit individual business goals, and a one-stop shop for consumers to find and consume the deals they want, when they want them. Booqoos also allows charities to easily create and execute fundraising campaigns, and matches business contributions up to 10 percent of the deal purchase price.
About the Animal Trustees of Austin
The Animal Trustees of Austin (ATA) was founded in 1993 by ten members of the Austin community who were determined to make a lasting difference for the animals of Central Texas. Initially the purpose of the organization was to provide rescue, and re-homing services for abused, stray, and surrendered animals. However, the board members quickly realized that in order to prevent the tragedy of homeless pets, they needed to tackle the problem of pet overpopulation. In response, the ATA Spay/Neuter Clinic opened in 1997. Shortly thereafter, the ATA Wellness Clinic was added to assist pet owners who wanted to keep their animals healthy, but could not afford the fees charged by veterinarians. Today, the ATA operates two full-time clinics offering spay/neuter surgeries, heartworm prevention and treatment, parasite control, dental health care, and life saving special surgeries.
- More Information:
BIGGEST Give Yet!
September 30, 2011
As many of you know, The BIG Give was this past Sunday night at the W Hotel and to put it lightly it was a huge success! Thank you to everyone who came out and helped to create such an outstanding event.
With well over 300 attendees, I Live Here, I Give Here surpassed its fundraising goals and set a new record. The team is getting excited to start next year’s BIG Give planning and to hopefully exceed another goal!
With great music from Floyd Domino and Donna Hightower, a stellar silent auction, delicious treats and a fun photo booth, we can safely say that our guests had a great time, as did we. It was a joy to celebrate with charitable and engaged Austinites!
The third year of The BIG Give happened to be the “Year of the Dog” with Animal Trustees of Austin winning the Whole Foods BIG Prize of ten thousand dollars, and Divine Canines winning the Heritage Title Company Little Prize of five thousand dollars. Both nonprofit organizations demonstrated their skills in cultivating donor relationships and rallying their supporters to their respective causes. Excellent job!
A special thank you goes out to Ronda Gray, our BIG Giver who has been incredibly active in helping children’s causes across central Texas. Drawing on her passion for children she founded Camp On The Move and went on to create the Camp On The Move Foundation.
To read a little more you can check out the write-up from Michael Barnes on Austin360!
- More Information:
Paws on the Patio at Santa Rita Cantina
June 14, 2011
What a fun event! I hope Paws on the Patio returns to Santa Rita Cantina next year. It was like a divine, dog-friendly picnic in the park.
First, the set-up: The Santa Rita folks cordoned off a green swath off its patio at Escarpment Village on Saturday. A light breeze kept us perfectly comfortable under the young oaks.
Chairs and tables were scattered around a Water Monster, which is like a small-town water tower, but with spigots to cool down guests. They are used for disasters, but this made me think of so many other uses at outdoor festivals and picnics, or along Austin’s many trails.
The subject, however, was dogs. The picnic, fueled by a Santa Rita buffet and Victoria beers, was a benefit for Animal Trustees of Austin, which provides services for pets and their needy human friends. And various breeds — including a wire-haired dachshund rarely seen in Austin — ruled the roost.
The centerpiece was a contest for longest tail, shortest legs, best trick and best kiss. Joining me among the judges were Alisa Weldon of L Style G Style magazine, George T. Elliman of Tribeza magazine and Missy McCullough of Animal Trustees. Veteran KEYE anchor Ron Oliveira served as a sporting emcee.
Organizers of the event seemed disappointed at the turnout, but I tell you, this could catch on. The parklike setting alone is enough lure this urbanite to the ‘burbs again, with or without the refreshments, conversation and canine charisma.
Petcasso draws 450 Animal Trustees of Austin backers
June 9, 2011
The recent fifth annual Petcasso: Animal Art from the Heart unleashed the talents of canine, feline and equine artistry to benefit Animal Trustees of Austin.
Held at a new location this year, the AT&T Center, the eclectic affair was sold out with more than 450 attendees. Event co-chairs Alisa Weldon and Westbanker Dr. John Hogg wore cat-and-dog headgear to match the whimsical theme.
A cocktail reception consisted of wine and beer donated by Glazer’s and Real Ale Brewing Company. A “Say Cheese” photo booth enticed partygoers into posing in animal attire. Cowgirls and Flowers created festive centerpieces.
Executive chef Josh Watkins catered a fanciful feast of boursin cheese soup, Greek, taco and panzanella salads, Mediterranean mussels, vegetarian lasagna and chicken enchiladas. Gilbert Johnson, Tino Ramirez and Sally Hawkins of the Chocolate Bar customized animal-themed desserts. Barbara Madrigal of Barb’s Fabulous Peanut Butter Balls provided the signature dessert.
The silent auction showcased impressive items, and the exciting live auction was conducted again by animated auctioneer Walt Roberts. Colorful paintings were presented on stage by owners and their furry friends, all of whom were the creative artists. Besides the artwork raising the most money at $17,950, luxury packages to Lake Austin Spa, Santa Fe and Costa Rica also were bid on for thousands of dollars each.
Emceed by KXAN-TV chief weathercaster Jim Spencer and produced by Emmy award-winner Debra Davis, the event generated approximately $200,000.
“Petcasso 2011 was the best ever,” said Missy McCullough, Animal Trustees of Austin executive director. “We celebrated our common love of animals and raised funds to support the great work of the Animal Trustees of Austin.”
Since 1997 when the first clinic opened, 296,825 animals that are owned by Austin’s low-income and homeless citizens have been given quality, affordable veterinary services. Programs include spay/neuter, wellness, emergency care, dental health, heartworm treatment and special surgery.
For further information, visit www.animaltrustees.org.
Santa Rita Cantina hosts event benefiting animal advocacy group
June 2, 2011
The south location of Santa Rita Cantina is hosting its inaugural Paws on the Patio event June 11 benefiting the nonprofit Animal Trustees of Austin.
Beginning at 11 a.m., the outdoor patio will be buzzing with live music from local favorites and residents with their four-legged friends to celebrate the nonprofit, whose mission is to care for Austin’s pet population.
“We really wanted to get involved with the community—Southwest Austin is a big animal community—and Santa Rita has the perfect patio and outdoor facility to do that,” said Michele Golden of Golden L Co., a marketing group that represents the Santa Rita Cantina’s two Austin locations.
Animal Trustees of Austin was started in 1993 with the goal of providing health services to animals in need. The organization includes clinics for general animal wellness and spay/neuter services. The clinic has performed more than 85,000 surgeries since 1997, according to the website.
Attendees must donate $25 to get into the event, located at 5900 W. Slaughter Lane, but children who attend with adults will receive free entrance. The donation cost includes access to the taco bar, a drink ticket and live music.
Families are encouraged to bring their pets for the various pet contests, which include longest tail, shortest legs, shortest ears and most clever pet trick. The contests will take place from 1–2 p.m. and all entrees must arrive at Santa Rita Cantina by 1 p.m.
The guest judges are Ron Oliveira from KEYE TV Austin, Michael Barnes from the Austin American Statesman, the executive director of Animal Trustees of Austin Misty McCullough, the editor of L Style G Style magazine Alisa Weldon and George Elliman, the publisher of the local magazine Tribeza.
Eddie Bernal, owner of Santa Rita Cantina, said getting involved with the community is an important part of the restaurant’s mission statement and they are always looking for ways to give back to local nonprofits such as Animal Trustees of Austin.
For more information, call 288-5100 or visit www.santaritacantina.com.
Petcasso for Animal Trustees of Austin at AT&T Center
April 20, 2011
Auction fever struck Animal Trustees of Austin this week. The group’s signature benefit, Petcasso, moved to the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center on Sunday. The event, chaired by scampy Dr. John Hogg and Alisa Weldon in fabric dog and cat ears, looked as if it doubled in size from the previous year.
Like other galas, this one includes videos (turn down the house lights, these stories and images are quite effective), thank-you speeches and testimonials. Petcasso benefits, however, from the charismatic presence of pets. Hundreds of guests let out a collective “aw!” every time a pet pranced out on stage.
The gimmick of pairing human and pet artists to create works to auction sounds goofy, I know, but added to videos and live appearances, the concept works magic. Paintings and multi-media canvases were going for thousands of dollars, all of which lands back at Animal Trustees. Every year, the charity provides veterinary services for tens of thousands of pets whose human friends can’t afford the outlay.
Much praise was handed Animal Trustees executive director Missy McCullough. Yet the auction, which included a few vacation and spa packages in addition to the art, would not have entertained without auctioneer Walt Roberts, cowboy, fiddle player and stand-up comedian. Even drawn-out bidding kept us laughing with Roberts at the helm.
During the finale, Weldon announced that the live and silent auctions — including cash call — combined to raise more than $200,000 for emergency services.
Again, entertainment — unforced — is the key to a grand auction. Even for those, like myself, not bidding.
Austin celebrates no-kill milestone
March 4, 2011
AUSTIN (KXAN) – A celebration Friday morning recognized a milestone in the 60-year-old Town Lake Animal Shelter’s history.
The city reached a no-kill rate of 92 percent on March 1, a record for the animal shelter and a first for a major urban city in Texas.
Austin Councilwoman Laura Morrison, city staff and dozens of animal welfare partners and supporters came together Friday to celebrate the achievement and to make a commitment to continue to work together so that Austin can maintain its no-kill city status.
“The city will need the community’s continued support,” said Morrison. “I remain personally committed to Austin sustaining its no-kill status as we strive to become one of the most humane cities for animal welfare in Texas and the nation.”
Austinites love their pets, and February proved to the Town Lake Animal Shelter just how much.
“We achieved what no city or open intake shelter of our size achieved anywhere in Texas,” said Filip B. Gecil on Tuesday.
He is the Town Lake Animal Shelter interim chief animal services officer. “This has never happened in the 60-year long history of the shelter.”
Austin City council passed a resolution in March of 2010 making Austin’s Town Lake Animal shelter a no-kill facility.
That put an immediate stop to killing animals at the shelter if there is empty cage space. it also required the city to move toward on a 90-percent save rate at the shelter.
Since October 2010 , the Animal Services Office has worked on the 34-point plan along with the support of dozens of community partners, including Austin Pets Alive!, the Austin Humane Society, EmanciPet, Animal Trustees of Austin and more than 250 volunteers.
In 2009, the city was forced to euthanize more than 7,000 animals left at its animal shelters. That’s down from the 12,000 in the previous year.
Still, more than 50 percent of the No-Kill Implementation Plan has been completed. This plan is what helped the city reach the live outcome goal.
Some of the changes have included:closing the night drop-off boxes adding a full- and part-time veterinarian improving the foster care program, as well as low-cost/free spay and neuter services increasing the marketing and publicity efforts for adoption and animal services offered by the city
Assistant City Manager Bert Lumbreras said one of the most important parts of reaching the no-kill goal was the city placing a moratorium on euthanizing animals when there is empty kennel space.
“The moratorium (begun in October 2011) immediately started to save animal lives,” Lumbreras said. “We went from 72 percent in September 2010 to 92 percent February 2011. The City will remain focused on no-kill implementation and continue to work closely with its partners and the community to keep Austin a No-Kill City.”
With the mating season approaching, spring 2011 brings a challenge for the shelter. Center officials said it experiences a spike in the number of animals coming into the shelter during the months of March through May.
A citywide public awareness campaign will launch in April to emphasize the importance of getting pets spayed or neutered to help with the overpopulation of pets in the community.
One of the key messages will be that the city and EmanciPet offers free and low-cost spay and neuter services.
Groups here in the city believe there are plenty of options to save animals here in the city.
Since December 2010, trends have been positive toward the decreasing number of animals coming into the shelter and the increasing number of adoptions.
The city council also voted to build a new animal shelter in East Austin last year. The construction timeline on that project is about 18 months.
Meanwhile, the city appointed a new animal services officer, Abigail Smith, in January 2011. She directed a no-kill shelter for the Tompkins County SPCA in Ithaca, N.Y. She will start here on March 15.
Surgery saves homeless dog
December 24, 2010
AUSTIN (KXAN) – They say a dog is a man’s best friend. That’s true even for a homeless Austin man. But when Bobby Brown’s dog needed expensive emergency surgery someone stepped in to save the dog.
Brown has been homeless since he was 14. Three years ago he took Poopsie the dog into his camp in the woods after learning she was in an abusive situation. “A friend of mine told me about her and I didn’t really want the responsibility,” Brown recalled. “But when we met we fell in love and we’ve been together ever since.”
Recently Poopsie tore up her knee. She needed immediate and expensive surgery. Bobby was worried, “$1,400 you just can’t come up with like that in the time it would take to do it. We began putting out fliers on street corners to dog lovers, which there are a lot of in Austin.”
Enter Laura Cowart. The homemaker and mother of six met Brown on a street corner. When she heard about Poopsie she helped make, print, and distribute the fliers asking for donations. She said it was a no-brainer. “It doesn’t take long to roll down your window and smile and say how are you doing,” said Cowart. “A lot of them that’s just the beginning and ask them what they need.”
Thanks to those donations and the Animal Trustees of Austin Clinic, Poopsie had surgery Tuesday.
Thanks to the generosity of John Pickens and the First Evangelical Free Church, Bobby and Poopsie are living in a duplex while she heals.
But make no mistake, Brown and Poopsie yearn for their life back in the open air. When asked how he likes having a roof over his head, Bobby replied, “It’s different. It’s okay, the conveniences are nice, but I miss the woods. So does she.”
- More Information:
Injured dog 'learning what love is'
December 13, 2010
CEDAR PARK, Texas (KXAN) – Monday marked another turning point in the life of a 2-year-old German Shepherd in his journey from near death to becoming a new family pet.
Flash underwent a second surgery, this time to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament discovered after a prior surgery on Oct. 20 to repair a broken pelvis.
Flash’s injuries happened in October after he was believed to have been thrown off a 40-feet overpass in Austin, then hit by a truck after he landed on the roadway. A witness said he hobbled off to hide. That witness, who found the dog broken and battered, took him to Town Lake Animal Center. He was in severe trauma, not expected to live, torn up with road rash, in addition to having broken bones.
Austin Pets Alive got involved, called one of its foster families, and Melanie Boates had her first task as a new volunteer foster pet home: how to pick up and get home a 60-pound dog who likely would die from the seriousness of his injuries.
“I went to get Flash as soon as I got the call. I didn’t know what I’d find when I got there,” Boates said. “I had a yoga towel in my car. I wrapped it around him and carried him to my car. I don’t know where I got the strength to lift him.”
It was two days before any veterinarian had an opening to do surgery. It was done on a normal day off by staff at Animal Trustees of Austin. Boates and APA raised $1,300 to help pay for the costs.
“We raised $1,000 overnight after the story about Flash was in the news,” Boates said.
Monday’s second surgery and medications cost $2,000. The Boates family and Austin Pets Alive ask the community to make donations to help pay for the repair of this “miracle dog’s” torn ACL. Boates said he is a dog who showed signs of previous abuse, according to ATA’s staff, with old injuries that had healed.
“Flash was going through depression after the first surgery, because he wants to roam and play,” Boates said. “We kept him in a kennel near a window so he could see outside.” The dog needed the down-time in order to heal from the pelvic surgery.
He will have to be contained and rest after Monday’s surgery for a period of eight to 10 weeks. But Flash — now weighing in at 75 pounds — won’t be turned out to find a permanent home after his recovery. The Boates family is keeping him.
“It would be stupid of us, after all this time of caring for him, to ask someone else to take him in,” said Boates. “He’s a good dog. We’ve had him for more than two months now. We have two teenagers who have grown attached to Flash. He’s a special dog. Why stop now?”
The family has another dog, Tuffy, a 6-year-old Yorkshire Terrier, a companion that Flash gets along with. Flash is starting to pick up Tuffy’s “bossy” traits, wanting to be first to be petted, Boates said.
“Flash was a lifeless dog when we got him,” she said. “My dog, Tuffy, knew right away he was injured. He was good to him.”
The trauma of the 40-foot fall affected Flash’s demeanor, however.
“He had his defenses up when we took him in. He had lots of other previous injuries,” she said. “But he is learning what love is. It’s been hard, but our family is making changes [for Flash]. Having teenagers in the house, they normally make loud noises. That bothers Flash, so we are making changes in our way of living, stopping those noises. Flash is slowly coming around.”
Boates said riding in a car is yet traumatic for the dog, and that when she drives near trucks, Flash acts very scared.
“It takes two people to get him into a car,” she explained. “He’s appreciative. He knows that he’s been saved. It’s his time for life now. It’s been four months of recovering. When he gets released after healing, he’ll go for it. He’ll run and play. His pelvis is 100 percent healed.”
As for any other injuries, Dr. Kirk Lewis, the veterinarian who has done both surgeries, noticed a slight bulge that may be a hernia. The bulge might go away on its own, but if not, Boates said that would be a quick repair.
“Flash is pretty much a hero,” Boates said.
In the meantime, the miracle dog should be ready to run by spring, blossoming into the pet he was born to be, cared for by a family that was in the right place at the right time, with open hearts to take him in.
- More Information:
After 87 schnauzers were seized, Bastrop County woman takes back four The rest of the dogs, and 20 puppies from six pregnant dogs, were adopted.
September 28, 2009
BASTROP COUNTY — At the time her 87 schnauzers were taken away in June, Jan McGill lived in unimaginable filth.
Floors were covered with trash and dog feces 2 inches deep in places. Cockroaches were everywhere.
Since then, almost all of the schnauzers have been adopted. The Animal Trustees of Austin took in six pregnant schnauzers — half needed Cesarean sections — and 20 of their puppies survived and have been adopted. A court order allowed McGill to take back three of the dogs once her house was cleaned and air conditioning was installed. She welcomed home Chester, Inky and Gabriel in July. Sienna, who bites, was unadoptable, so a judge allowed McGill to take back that dog as well.
Three volunteers — an animal control officer and two Austin veterinary hospital employees, Deborah List and Gwen Dominik — helped clean McGill’s house on Texas 95 in their free time, spending hundreds of dollars of their own money on cleaning supplies and taking shovels to the feces. Adult Protective Services provided an air conditioning window unit. After these improvements, Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Judge Bill Weddle, who issued the warrant of seizure, approved the dogs’ return to McGill.
McGill, 57,faces three counts of cruelty to non-livestock animals, Class A misdemeanors, stemming from the dogs’ living conditions. Those charges are pending.
“What we’ve been able to do on a civil level is monumental. It’s been marvelous. She’s been able to receive some help, get on her feet,” said Mary Beth Scott, Bastrop County assistant district attorney who prosecutes animal cruelty cases.
“We could have had a worse situation, but thankfully we didn’t,” she said. “It’s amazing, isn’t it, how people step up?”
About two years ago, List and Dominik went to McGill’s house to groom some of the dogs. They went inside to use the bathroom. They saw the filth.
“We told her very strongly that something had to be done,” Dominik said.
About a year later, the women filed a complaint with the county’s animal control department.
Animal control officer Sandy Perio responded to the complaint, but she said she didn’t have probable cause to enter McGill’s house.
Perio returned to McGill’s house again on June 4 after McGill tried to sell a puppy that a pet store said was underweight, had worms and was full of fleas, and after several complaints of odor from the property. This time, Perio said, the air conditioning was broken and she caught a glimpse of the filth through an open window. The dogs were seized that day.
Bastrop officials say McGill was not running a puppy mill. McGill considered herself a breeder. List, Dominik and Perio believe McGill is a hoarder.
“Jan’s not a bad person,” Perio said. “Her dogs were not intentionally mistreated. Jan loved her dogs. Her dogs were all she had.”
Born in Sweetwater in West Texas, McGill lived in a Southwest Austin apartment before moving to Bastrop County about six years ago.
At the time, she said, she had five dogs and one cat. Then she bought a couple more dogs.
In 2007, McGill’s father died and she became depressed. “I just started to feel really lonely, like no one cared,” McGill said. "And just went crazy buying dogs and breeding dogs. (I) felt very lonely, and they were company.
“They need me. They loved me. They always wanted to be around me. They made me feel like somebody cared about me. … I knew I had too many. I had no idea that I had 87.”
The depression was paralyzing, McGill said. “They wanted attention all the time, and I gave it to them. Consequently, I never got anything done.”
McGill left her legal assistant job to take care of her father’s estate and to see if she could make a living raising dogs. She said that it was hard to part with the dogs and that sometimes sales were slow.
The seizure still haunts her. “I still think about all the dogs,” McGill said, “but I know they’ve gotten good homes.”
McGill says she won’t get new dogs for a while. And she says that if she does get more dogs, she would get them spayed or neutered.
Euthanasia rate falls 50% at Austin animal shelters Grant from ASPCA helps spay and neuter cats, reducing the number going to shelters.
May 15, 2009
The euthanasia rate for animals in Austin has dropped nearly 50 percent during the first four months of this year compared with the same period last year, according to figures from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Through April 30, 953 animals had been put to death this year at the Town Lake Animal Center and the Austin Humane Society, down from 1,876 animals during the same period last year, according to the ASPCA.
The change comes in large part to a three-year grant of $200,000 per year that the ASPCA has given to four Austin animal agencies that has helped reduce the number of cats coming into shelters through a spay and neuter program, Austin officials said. Cats have a higher rate of euthanasia than dogs at the Town Lake Animal Center, shelter director Dorinda Pulliam said.
Austin is one of a handful of cities — including Charleston, S.C.; Gulfport, Miss.; Spokane, Wash.; Tampa, Fla.; and Oklahoma City — chosen for the ASPCA grant called Mission Orange.
When the grant started in 2007, 1,500 feral cats were spayed at the Humane Society. Last year, 5,000 were spayed, said Dr. Katie Luke, the Humane Society’s medical director. She said they are on track to spay 6,000 this year.
The grant also helped reduce Austin’s cat population by paying for a feral cat coordinator at the Humane Society who recruits and trains volunteer cat trappers and works with businesses that have feral cat colonies on their property, said Lisa Starr, a spokeswoman for the Humane Society.
The Town Lake shelter, Emancipet and Animal Trustees of Austin have also received money from the grant.
Before the grant, animal agencies in Austin spayed and neutered about 600 feral cats a year, Pulliam said.
“The reduction of cat intake has made a significant difference,” she said.
From Oct. 1, 2008, to April 30, the shelter took in 3,028 cats, compared with 4,365 during the same period a year earlier, she said.
“Now we have space to save a whole segment of cats we’ve never saved before like cats with (the feline immunodeficiency virus), older cats and very obese cats,” Pulliam said.
The hurricanes that have struck the Texas coast in the past couple of years did not significantly affect the number of animals the shelter accepted, she said. The shelter took in 6,657 dogs from Oct. 1, 2008, to April 30, compared with 7,275 during the same period a year earlier, she said.
The grant also pays for a foster coordinator at the Humane Society who teaches volunteers how to care for kittens and puppies younger than 8 weeks that might otherwise have been euthanized because they were too young to survive in the shelter, Starr said.
Among the cities that received the grant, Austin has seen the biggest increase in live releases — meaning animals that have been adopted from the shelters by rescue groups, members of the public or foster programs or reclaimed by owners, said Ed Sayres, president and CEO of the ASPCA. Austin’s live releases increased 13 percent for the first three months of the year compared with the same period last year, the ASPCA said.
“The progress in Austin is real inspiring,” Sayres said.
Starr said that Austin’s more than 80 animal rescue groups are also responsible for the live release rescue rate.