Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Abigail Smith: The Austin Chronicle interview


New animal services chief faces up to Austin's shelter warfare


Accompanied by the sound of 2,000 bands and a crowd of more than 100,000 joyous souls, Abigail Smith arrived in Austin last week to take the reins of the city's animal services department. Her timing really couldn't have been heavier with significance and expectations: South by Southwest in town, spring (see: mating season) in the air, and the city still celebrating having reached the coveted 90% live-outcome rate in February, the number commonly agreed upon as the dividing line between no-kill and, well, not no-kill.

As anyone familiar with the Austin animal-welfare community knows, Smith is stepping into a whirlwind. Expectations in this already passionate and polarized community have never been higher after last month's live-outcome success. A new shelter is under construction, set to open on Levander Loop in East Austin in the fall. And the city is still in need of a full-time animal behaviorist, the job considered by many to be the most crucial when aiming for no-kill status.


Japan's other earthquake and tsuanmi victims: cats and dogs


reporting by Michael Mountain
Founder, Best Friends Animal Society, Zoe, and The Stubby Dog Project

When Isabella Gallaon-Aoki and her two colleagues loaded up her Toyota wagon with dog carriers, cat carriers and as much pet food and supplies as they could fit in the car, they became the first animal rescue team to head into the devastation of Sendai, a coastal city in northern Japan that was most ravaged by the earthquake and tsunami.

The grassroots efforts of people like Aoki quickly became the backbone of animal and rescue and relief. Animal Garden Niigata teamed up with the Japan Cat Network and HEART-Tokushima, which normally focus on spay/neuter programs for stray animals, to form the Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue & Support (JEARS). Their Facebook page quickly became the information center for news and other information from the disaster area.

Frankly my dear...

Lover-ly Easter Bonnet for kitty -- wig included from

Tips for putting the hats on kitty:
  • A good treat and relaxed mood are always a good start.
  • Always be very gentle and talk in a warm, soothing voice.
  • Encourage and praise the kitty for good behavior.
  • Don’t force the cat if he/she really does not want to “dress up”.
  • Don't use without adult supervision.
  • Don't use the camera flash when taking frontal pictures of the pet.

This Saturday in Austin join 13th annual dog walk to defeat Brit's Guinness record

Saturday, April 2, 2011 – 9:00 am

All Day Event at Waterloo Park!

Bring the Guinness World Record back to Texas – Beat the Brits! Current record: 17,427 dogs

When: Sat., April 2, 2011 9:00 AM - Exhibits open from 7 AM to 4 PM

Where: New: All Day Event at Waterloo Park

What: A three mile stroll just down the road from the Texas State Capitol

Why: To bring the Guinness World's Record for "Largest Dog Walk" back to Texas! Current record: 17,427 dogs

Admission: $30/dog day of; $25/dog pre-registration

More info: click here

Friday, March 18, 2011

You Lift Me Up

The experience has been a tough one for those on the ground, as the amount of devastation that they are encountering is so very great. However the gratitude of the people they have met, some continuing to care for their pets under dangerous or difficult circumstances, has been amazing and very uplifting.

Help the animals in Japan


dear labby on weighty issue

Dear Labby,

I responded to a plea from a local rescue group and am now fostering a dangerously overweight Bulldog. I’m walking him several times a day and strictlymonitoring his diet, hoping to get him to a healthy state so that he can be placed for adoption. I’ve only had him four days but have already had random strangers on the street yell words to this effect at me: “You’re abusing your dog, quit overfeeding him!” Labby, I’m trying to undo someone else’s abuse and the comments are infuriating. Should I respond to these busybodies? If so, how?

Signed:Bothered by Incorrect Guesses at Bulldog’s Obesity and Need Effective Defense

Dear Bothered by Incorrect Guesses at Bulldog’s Obesity and Need Effective Defense:

Why are people so stupid? No wait, I mean nasty. No wait, I mean ignorant. No seriously, wait! I mean well-intentioned but ultimately ill-informed. (I would never call anyone stupid – I’m an etiquette expert, after all.)

With the pet obesity epidemic on the rise, it's not surprising -- although not an excuse -- that folks would take it upon themselves to comment on your chubby charge. Does the rescue group have business cards? If so, B.I.G. B.O.N.E.D., procure a few. The next time Judgmental Judy renders her observation, hand her a business card and say, “If you’d like to be part of the Phat Dog Rescue foster program, we’d love to have your help ensuring these homeless animals get their necessary daily walks.”

If business cards aren’t available, you can still get your point across. “Thank you so much for your concern. Sumo is my foster dog, and I’m doing all I can to get him slimmed down and adoption ready.” Feel free to add: “We rescued him from Al’s House of Metabolic Research, you ignorant lump of buffalo manure” (but so softly they won’t be able to hear it over their roaring mortification).

Got a petiquette question for Dear Labby? Email

Austin father plans to press charges after he says a pit bull attacked his daughter

Austin father plans to press charges after he says a pit bull attacked his daughter

Fatal dog attacks could lead to felony charges

Fatal dog attacks could lead to felony charges

AFD's new detection tool is warm, fuzzy Leo is trained to find explosives, acclerants

AFD's new detection tool is warm, fuzzy:


The Austin Fire Department welcomed a new member to its team Wednesday.

“Leo” just graduated from arson detection training. The 2-year-old arrived at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in September 2010. He came from The Seeing Eye, Inc. group out of Morristown, N.J.

"Somewhere in the training as a guide dog, he didn't cut the mustard,” said Lt. Brooks Frederick of AFD. “The ATF kennels have first shot at assessing these dogs for accelerant detection or explosive dogs. They found Leo was a perfect candidate."

Leo spent the next four months being imprinted on six different classes of ignitable liquids that encompass hundreds of products. He spent the following six weeks immersed in an intensive training regiment. Leo graduated on Feb. 11 and returned to Austin to begin working on the Accelerant Detection Canine Team.

Kinesis Survey™ Facilitates Animal Welfare Research for the Center for Shelter Dogs

Kinesis Survey™ Facilitates Animal Welfare Research for the Center for Shelter Dogs

If there are dogs in costume this must be Austin continued

Brentwood Park Dogfair Sunday, March 20
  • I Look Like My Dog Contest” - 2:30pm
  • “So Ugly It’s Cute” - 3:00pm
  • “Fastest Dog” - 3:30pm
  • “Trickiest Dog” - 4:00pm

Getting Puppy Mills to Heel


A bid for the humane treatment of animals


At press time, the Texas House Licens­ing and Administrative Proced­ures Com­mittee was slated to consider Houston Dem Rep. Senfronia Thompson's bid to crack down on puppy mills. HB 1451 would task the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation with promulgating and enforcing regulations pertaining to large-scale cat and dog breeding operations. Puppy mills are unregulated large-scale breeding operations that submit animals to constant breeding in often unsanitary and inhumane living conditions. A similar bill failed in 2009, but this time the bill, supported by the Texas Humane Legislation Network, has also earned the support of the Texas Veterin­ary Medical Association, which previously did not support the measure. The TVMA doesn't want to put "reputable breeders out of business," Elizabeth Choate, the group's director of government relations said last month in a press release. Thompson has said the point of the bill is only to ensure that all breeding operations are conducting business in a legitimate and humane way.

Another day: Another Austin dog hero

The golden retriever who saved the life of his owner last October has won a national award for his heroic deed.

The Humane Society has recognized the dog, Yogi, as the winner of the Dog of Valor Award. He also won the People's Hero award, voted for by the general public.

Yogi's owner, Paul Horton, was riding his bike near Lake Travis with Yogi running by his side when Paul fell and landed on his head. He was paralyzed.

Yogi stayed by Paul's side until he woke up and told Yogi to go home. Instead, Yogi went to the top of the trail and barked furiously until someone noticed and then led them to Paul.

Kleenex Alert: Japanese Dog Refuses To Leave His Injured Friend

If you can watch this without needing Kleenex you are made of stone.

Dog divas give fashion show at Austin's Dell Children's Medical Center -

Dog divas give fashion show at Austin's Dell Children's Medical Center -