Thursday, September 30, 2010

You are what you eat: it's true for pets too

Michael Landa, CEO of Austin-based pet food company, Nulo.

Photo and Story by Kate Weidaw for

Pet owners, do you really know what is in the food you feed your cat or dog?

A new pet food company has opened up in Austin and its owner hopes to educate pet owners about the importance of good nutrition.

"I think if consumers would turn their bag of food over and read even the first three to four ingredients you could tell a lot about the food," said Michael Landa, CEO of Nulo .

Ingredients like wheat, corn and gluten led Landa to start an Austin-based pet food company called Nulo.

"We discovered the food being served to our cats and dogs is the nutritional equivalent of fast food," said Landa.

His goal was to create a wholesome pet food where the top ingredients were meats and rice -- something he wasn't finding in a lot of store-bought food.

Ingredients like wheat, corn and gluten led Landa to start an Austin-based pet food company called Nulo.

"We discovered the food being served to our cats and dogs is the nutritional equivalent of fast food," said Landa.

His goal was to create a wholesome pet food where the top ingredients were meats and rice -- something he wasn't finding in a lot of store-bought food.

"If we just look for things like corn, by-products, glutens, these never should be the first three ingredients you see in a pet food," said Landa.

Landa showed several examples of top-selling dog and cat foods that lists these items as top ingredients.

"Just like people you want to make sure the first several ingredients are some sort of good protein source and good starch," said Dr. Erin Homberg, Austin veterinarian .

However, she said owners don't need to throw out current pet food if it has wheat, corn, or gluten because they aren't necessarily bad for pets unless they are allergic to those items.

"There are a lot of foods focusing on more natural organic, wheat-free, gluten-free, that's great for some pets. I just don't think it's necessary for every pet," said Homberg.

Homberg agreed with the philosophy of Nulo -- look at the packaging and know what your pet is eating.

"Is it chicken, is it beef, is it fish?" said Homberg. "When you start seeing the by-products and meals they are not as good as the plain chicken, beef or fish."

And now Austin-based Nulo is a new option as a healthy pet food.

Nulo isn't sold in stores. Instead the company delivers the food to your door. They said that's important so the food stays fresh.

County's animal control office outnumbered: one officer for every 50,000 dogs and cats

By: Heidi Zhou-Castro for

By 8:30 a.m., animal control officer Mabel Lopez sets off on her day with a fittingly-dogged attitude. She leaves armed with dog treats, cat food and plenty of leashes which she needs it in order to tackle her department's morning workload of more than 50 calls.

Nineteen animal control officers cover the county. That's about one officer per every 50,000 dogs and cats. There are also countless bats, raccoons and other wild critters that sometimes find themselves in need of human assistance.

for more click here

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The clincher: dog that saves family's toddler from rattlesnake still a foster up for adoption

Dog owners want answers after pit bulls attack their dogs

Dog owners want answers after pit bulls attack their dogs

Not just another cute coffee table dog book


An article I wrote about the Michael Vick dogs appeared on the cover of the December 29th, 2008, issue of Sports Illustrated. In the weeks after, the magazine received almost 488 letters and emails about the story and the dog pictured on the cover, the most we got in response to any issue for that entire year. By an overwhelming majority the letters were supportive, but there were some detractors.

My greatest fear was a flood of complaints from people with friends or loved ones that had been injured or lost to pit bull attacks, but there were remarkably few of those.

Click here to read more.

What's not to like? Film about the power of love between man and dog, starring Richard Gere

Regarding Hachi: A Dog's Tale, Maria at sends up a tissue alert.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Austin dog returns home after 11-day journey to reunite with family

Shep (pictured above) endured an eight-mile, crosstown journey during the remnants of flooding from Tropical Storm Hermine.
Photo by Kelly West

Every dog I've ever loved had another family before he became a part of mine. I could imagine that regardless of how much love I had to give this new creature in my life, he missed his former companions so much that if ever the front door were left open -- just a crack for even a minute -- he'd dart out and make a run for it, back to the people he considered his true family. His extraordinary sense of smell might make it possible for him to find his way back to the place he considered "home." But the power of love would keep him going.

This story in the Austin American-Statesman last Thursday is a sweet tale about the power of the love bond between us and the animals we bring into our homes. The pets that become family.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

KXAN reports on pit bull pack that attacked Pastor's dogs

Police: Pit bulls chewed through wood fence

reported by Jacqueline Ingles

One dog is undergoing treatment and another is on the run after being attacked by a pack of pit bulls that chewed through their owner's fence earlier today.

It happened near the intersection of Marble Ridge Drive and Springtime Trail in southeast Austin.

A witness said the pit bulls got away from their owner's yard, chewed through a neighbor's fence, and attacked their two dogs.

"My male blue heeler , they went for his throat, they tried to kill him and his head and his ears are tore up," explained Pastor James Cunningham, who came home from church to find a note from police describing how 5 pit bulls had attacked both his two-year-old dogs, Michael and Ruthie. "He is chewed up bad and we just hope he is going to come out okay."

Cunnigham's said he is shocked this happened and is in awe of the damage five dogs did to his fence.

"The dogs ate their way through the gate going after my two blue heelers ," Cunningham added.

His neighbor saw the dogs and called police.

When they arrived, they had to taser one dog and shoot two others.

Cunningham said the dogs which belong to a neighbor down the block have always been a problem.

He even called police on them yesterday.

"This is the fourth time these pit bulls have gotten out, the neighbor, they get out, you can hear them coming, it's like cattle," Cunningham said. "We talked to the police about it beforehand and they never did anything about it."

That neighbor declined to speak on camera, but he did surrender the two pit bulls that ran back home following the attack.

They were euthanized.

Now, Cunningham's dog Michael is at an emergency vet, and his other dog Ruthie, also hurt in the attack, is missing.

"Our dogs our like our family and one of them is chewed up and the other one, we can't find her," Cunningham explained. "She is passive, real real passive. She is like, if someone comes up to her, she will just roll over on her back. It must have scared her to the point where she ran like crazy."

Cunningham hopes Michael will be healthy enough to come back from the vet Monday morning.

He now faces a $700 bill and that does not include damage done to his fence.

"I hope he [Michael] is going to be okay with other animals, but you never know when they get attacked like that, " Cunningham added.

Cunningham told KXAN he wants his neighbor to apologize and pay up for what his pets did.

"I really do think my neighbor thinks this is funny. He needs to be responsible for it. I am a pastor and we love him and stuff, but he needs to responsible," Cunningham said.

Neighbor Kevin Dawson said they also feared these dogs.

"This is the third time I heard about these dogs," said Dawson. "They ran up on my wife. They just sniffed her, but I won't let my kids out because of them."

Police did not immediately return our calls for comment.

Does this collar make me look fat? Help for Austin's overweight, unfit dogs

from Austin American-Statesman
Michele Mendoza, (pictured above) opened the Austin Zoom Room in July. She's shown working with a rat terrier/dachshund mix named Roscoe. Photo by Julia Robinson

Story by Marques G. Harper

Studley, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, spends most days at his downtown condominium. On his evening walks, his appearance often gets attention from female passersby because he looks like a dog from the "Sex and the City" franchise.

Recently, the 8-year-old long-eared dog, who is owned by Maureen and Dean Greenwood, ran into a weighty problem that plagues man and his feline and canines friend alike.

"He just got chubby," said Maureen Greenwood, 60.

Studley tipped the scale at 31 pounds, which kept him from jumping onto his owners' bed without help.

To read rest of story click here.

Updated: 8:11 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 19, 2010
Published: 8:03 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 19, 2010

Southeast Austin Pastor prays for his dogs -- attacked in their own yard by pack of pit bulls


Posted on September 19, 2010 at 5:56 PM
Updated today at 9:21 PM

Pastor James Cunningham and his wife Emily came home from church Sunday morning to a terrifying situation.

“I walk in my backyard; my two dogs are gone,” said Pastor Cunningham. “I'm scared because I know it's those pit bulls.”

Cunningham says a pack of pit bulls has been running loose through his Southeast Austin neighborhood on a regular occurrence.

“They run in a pack and that's the dangerous part,” he said. “This is the fourth time that they’ve gotten out.”

Sunday morning just before 10:30 the dogs chewed their way out of their fenced yard and ran up the street to Cunningham's house, where they ripped up the cable and chewed through his gate. The pack then started attacking his two dogs.
“These are blue heelers,” said Cunningham. ”These are frisbee dogs. They [pit bulls] just chomped on the wood until they tore the gate off.”

A neighbor sitting on her porch saw the dogs and called 911. When police arrived, they say they found one pit bull outside the gate. It turned and ran toward the officers.

They used a Taser, and the dog ran away. The officers then headed to the backyard, where they saw the four pit bulls mauling one of Cunningham's dogs.

“When my officers entered the yard, the dogs stopped the attack on the blue heeler dog and came at the two officers,” said Sgt. Phil Linsalata with the Austin Police Department.

They opened fire, killing two and injuring two.

“They were very lucky,” said Linsalata. “They were fast enough to take care of animals before they themselves were attacked.”

The owner of the pit bulls would not talk to KVUE, but we did notice his fence had already been repaired.

Cunningham’s two dogs were injured in the attack. Animal Control Officers had to use a net to catch one of the dogs named Michael. He was attacked on his face, neck and head and had to undergo surgery for his injuries. Ruth, a second dog, is still missing.

“I pray for my dogs,” said Cunningham.

Now Pastor Cunningham hopes his prayers will be answered.

If you have any information about Ruth's whereabouts, give Pastor Cunningham a call at 512-922-0576.

Only in Austin: Cats and Bats and feeding the homeless (people) of Austin

And the Oscar goes to ... Oscar?

It could happen.

Oscar is the creamy-dreamy colored cat pictured above in the cage, far right. The Austin Humane Society rescue could make it to the top in the household division at Cats and Bats: An Austin Tradition, the Austin Cat Fanciers' annual show running Oct 2-3 at the Palmer Events Center.

Oscar has led in the regional standings throughout this season's competitions. At least four other local felines rescues will be competing against Oscar.

The event -- the title is a mouthful -- The Austin Cat Fanciers' 41st Annual Championship and Household Pet Cat Show & Benefit for the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, is recognized by The International Cat Show Association and features purebred and household pets.

A can food drive benefiting the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas. Cat adoptions from Thundering Paws Animal Sanctuary and Bat Outreach and Education from Conservation International.

A silent auction and raffle will feature items from local Austin businesses including The Driskill, Chuy's, Kerbey Lane, Mighty Fine Burgers, Franzetti Jewelers, Austin Java and Avant Salon.

For more info click here.