Monday, November 23, 2009

Check out comments at end of this KXAN story about Round Rock family distraught that city officials euthanized their dogs

Tears filled Courtney Swoboda's already puffy eyes as she looked at the large picture of Boomer, taking up the entire background on the laptop computer sitting on the coffee table in her living room.

The 4-year old lab-pit bull mix had a black coat, except for a small patch of white on his paws and chest. A a black graduation cap was perched on his head. The photo was snapped about two years ago when he graduated from dog obedience school.

Next, Courtney pulled up a photo of Dart. He was an all black lab mix who quickly became Boomer's partner in crime. In their younger years, the two would make a mess inside the Swoboda's home on Ferndale Drive in Round Rock.
While Courtney was home alone Wednesday afternoon, a Round Rock Animal Control Officer Christi Snell and a Round Rock police officer knocked on her front door.

"The lady started out, 'Your dog attacked me' And I'm thinking to myself, 'My dogs?' said Courtney.

Last time she checked on the two, they were sitting quietly near their doghouse in the fenced-in backyard. Sure enough, the two had been busy creating a small opening to sneak out of their new wooden fence.

According to a dispatch report, the Swoboda's backyard neighbors had called to report the 'dogs are very aggressive' and barking. They also claimed the dogs were keeping them from leaving.

"Clearly the dogs were trying to dominate the area and control anybody's movements in or out," said Round Rock police officer Eric Poteet, a spokesperson for the department who was not on scene.

Snell, who first responded to the call alone, said Dart ran toward her in the neighbor's backyard to attack so she hit him with her bite stick. She said Boomer also ran over and started circling her to attack.

Courtney and her husband, Sean, said their dogs had never attacked anyone before. While they did not witness the encounter with authorities, they assumed the first dog just wanted to check out the animal control officer, and when she started beating him with her baton, the other dog moved in to protect his brother.

The animal control officer gave Courtney three options. The first one was to pay $1,000 per day to the city ($500 per dog) to keep the dogs quarantined until a custody hearing, or take the dogs out of the county.

Courtney told her she needed some time to call her husband so they could discuss what to do.

"Because of my recent pay cuts, I knew that's not an option. I can't do that," said Courtney. "The other option-- she said 'you can surrender the dogs to me.' She said they'll be put down eventually."

The city told her she needed to make a decision right then. She signed an owner release form which gives the city full custody of the dogs. It also gives them the right to euthanize the dogs.

The officers asked Courtney to walk the dogs to the animal control vehicle so they could haul them away. One was on a leash, but the other was running loose. The police officer claims the unleashed dog charged at him and the animal control officer.

He pulled his gun and pointed it toward the dog. The dog stopped and backed away.

After the officers left, Courtney called family members to tell them what had happened. Her mother tried calling Snell's cell phone number listed on the business card she left with Courtney. When Courtney's mother reached someone at the police department around 4:45 p.m., a little less than two hours after the incident, someone told her over the phone the dogs have already been killed.

My mom had called me and said, 'Are you sitting down?' I said, 'What do you mean?' and I was like, 'They didn't put them down did they?' She said, 'They're both gone already," said Courtney.

The city said the dog's aggressive behavior left them no choice.

"Ultimately the dogs were euthanized because the owners could not take responsibility for them," said Poteet. "Aggressive animals don't leave you many options and that's a very sad thing--we don't like that."

Both the animal control officer, Christi Snell , who handled the case and her supervisor, Kim Harrington , declined to comment on camera about the case.

Story by KXAN

Santa Claws Fundraiser for some cool street-wise cats who deserve furrever homes

Dec. 5th 2009
6pm - 9pm: Street Cat Rescue's 2nd Annual Santa "Claws" Fundraiser Event at Austin Business Furniture Showroom, located at 9300 United Drive, near 183/Burnet Rd.

A $20 donation cover charge includes: Food, beverages (including beer and wine), a door prize ticket (great prizes!), music & a little dancing! Enjoy silent auction and visit “Santa’s Store” for a little Christmas shopping too, including some great dog and cat lover items!

Suggested RSVP Date : Dec. 1st. Call 762-3597 or contact
For more info: 512-762-3597 or email:

The Central Texas SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is a private nonprofit 501(c)3 non-euthanasia (no-kill), limited intake animal shelter, established in 1988.

Street Cat Rescue educates the public on the pet overpopulation problem and TNR- a humane solution to the feral and stray cat population. Trapping classes and other training is also offered.

Those animal-friendly Texas license plates aren't just for making your car look cuter

Austin residents who live east of Interstate 35 are eligible to have their cats spayed and neutered for free, thanks to a grant from the state.

The Town Lake Animal Shelter was given $40,000 for the effort. Half of the money comes from the purchase of Texas animal-friendly license plates. The rest was matched in donations.

“We are very excited to offer this important free service to pet owners as this program will continue to help the community reduce the number of unwanted kittens and cats coming into the city’s shelter,” said Dorinda Pulliam, assistant director, Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services, in a news release.

From November through January, Emancipet will perform the surgery, vaccinate against rabies and give eligible pets a microchip – for free.

To book appointments, call 587-7729.


Dog lover Recessionista tip: Video gives step by step directions on how to bathe your dog

Click on link

Brought to you by Howcast's Emerging Filmmakers Program

Friday, November 6, 2009

KVUE reports Austin closer to "no-kill" shelter


Posted on November 5, 2009 at 5:38 PM

Updated yesterday at 5:41 PM

Inside a 25 foot silver trailer on South Lamar and Mary Street in South Austin, unwanted pets are getting a second chance at life.

“If we hadn’t gone down there this poor guy would have been killed and put in a trash bag, “ says Lindsay McCay a veterinary nurse for Austin Pets Alive. “I just don’t think it’s very fair to put a dog like this in a dump.”

Red, a Pitbull mix, was scheduled to be euthanized Thursday morning at Town Lake Animal Center. He wasn't alone. Shelly a Border Collie mix, and Bitsy and Ridgy two Chihuahuas were also scheduled to be put down. They were all saved by Austin Pets Alive.

“We walk around and we pick animals off the euthanasia list that we think we can find homes for,” said McCay. “It usually varies anywhere from five to 10 animals a day.”

The animals are vaccinated, spayed and neutered, micro-chipped and put up for adoption. In 2008, more than 10,000 dogs and cats were killed at Town Lake Animal Center. Thursday, the Austin City Council moved a step closer to making Austin a "no-kill" city for animals.

In a unanimous vote, council members directed City Manager Marc Ott to save more dogs and cats from death. City staff will work with members of the city's Animal Advisory Commission to prepare a plan.

The plan calls for an adoption program with off-site adoptions seven days a week, and a large-scale foster program with low-cost spay/neuter services.It also recommends ending the killing of any healthy or non aggressive dog while kennels or cages are unused. The plan calls for a 90 percent save rate as a goal for Austin.

Dorinda Pulliam is Executive Director of Town Lake Animal Center. She says the shelter has made progress when it comes to euthanasia.

“Our euthanasia rate dropped significantly this year down to 32 percent to 7,000 compared to 10,900," said Pulliam.

Still for Lindsay McCay and other animal advocates, their mission won’t be complete until every animal has a second chance at life.

“It’s such a huge step for Austin to be making in the right direction to get out of the planning phases and start saving lives everyday.”

The resolution will come back before the council in March.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Girl finds loving adoptive family, learns life lesson from her dog

Alisa M. and her dog, Lucky

As a child growing up in foster care, Alexis M. may not have lived a dog's life, but she's learned a lot from her dog, Lucky.

"I’ve learned that you can overcome a bad start in life from my dog," she says in her contribution to the recently released book, Chicken Soup for the Soul: What I Learned From My Dog.

"When he came to us he was thin and hungry and had bald spots from fleas. He had an infection. The people who had him wanted to get rid of him. He was the last in the litter and if they couldn’t find a home for him they were going to shoot him. My neighbor took him so he wouldn’t be shot, but she couldn’t keep him. My mom and dad decided to let me have him."

Alexis, who now lives in northeast Texas, knew the dog needed a loving home of his own. She knew because, like thousands of foster children awaiting adoption, she once asked herself, "Why not me? Why can't I have a family?"

"I understand how his life has been because my life had pretty much been the same," she says. "Even though he was a dog, I understood how it made him feel to be treated that way. I was in foster care for almost five years. My first years of life were really tough. Taking care of him has helped me deal with some of my past hurts and problems."

November 2009 is Adoption Month in Texas and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is asking caring adults two simple questions: “Why not you? Why not adopt an older child?” This year, the department's “Why Not Me?” campaign features three months of radio and television public service announcements, aired in cooperation with the Texas Association of Broadcasters. The spots begin running in early November and will air until the end of January 2010. See the spots in the “Why Not Me?” section of

New Player in Competitive Local Coffee Shop Market Offers Discounts to Benefit Austin's Own Blue Dog Rescue

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s locally owned franchisee, Lone Star Bean, today announced that it will host its first Blue Dog Rescue fundraiser in stores from November 2 to November 20.

This program works in two ways:

From November 2 to November 20, customers can help create awareness with the purchase of a bracelet at the two Austin locations for a minimum donation of $1. When a participating customer comes back to The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf wearing the bracelet, he or she will receive a ten percent discount on all prepared beverages through December 4. All proceeds from the sales of the bracelets, excluding the production costs, will be donated to Blue Dog Rescue to help them with their foster program.

To further support their partnership, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf will host Blue Dog Rescue informational foster events:

- Sunday, November 1, at the South Lamar location from 10:00 a.m. to noon
- Saturday, November 7, at the North Lamar location from 10:00 a.m. to noon
- Sunday, November 15, at the South Lamar location from 10:00 a.m. to noon

“Our goal is to help Blue Dog Rescue raise awareness and collectively make a difference in the lives of our four-legged friends,” said Bill Duffy, Chief Operating Officer of Lone Star Bean. “Since we’ve created a pet-friendly environment, it is clear that this is a perfect fit for our customers and a cause that is near to them as well.”

In addition to its fundraising efforts, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf will now sell Blue Dog Rescue’s 2010 Music and Mutts calendar in both of its stores - 221 S. Lamar Blvd. (one block south of Lady Bird Lake), and 3718 N. Lamar Blvd. (on the southwest corner of North Lamar & 38th Street).

Lone Star Bean is the locally owned Texas franchisee of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, the oldest and largest privately-held specialty coffee and tea retail business in the United States. For address, store information and hours, visit

National Pet Sitter Franchise Moves into Austin Market reports FETCH! Pet Care, new to Austin and serving the Northwest and Southwest areas, uses a sophisticated telephone dispatch system and advanced software that tracks assignments and delivers real-time electronic client order confirmations and automated sitter assignment reminders.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

This 'Bear' May Be For You: Local Playwright/Actress/Writer/Cat Lover Sidney Brammar has cat that needs a furever home

Smokey Bear is a "love bug" kind of kitty who wandered up to Sidney's house last August.
She's 2-3 years old.
Spayed and current on shots.
Affectionate purr machine calico with golden eyes.
Thick fur soft as velvet.
Has collar and tags.
She's not fitting in well with other cats.
Contact Sidney at 512-916-0001 or 512-657-8101.