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Friday, October 23, 2015

New Pet Memorial Center Coming to Austin


from: thepetlosscenter.com 

from: businesswire.com

The Pet Loss Center serves mourning pet parents and veterinary clinics

AUSTIN, Texas--()--The Pet Loss Center, a pet memorial services company, announced its Texas launch today with the opening of two Dallas-area locations and one Austin location also serving the San Antonio and San Marcos markets. The Pet Loss Center offers pet owners and veterinary clinics final arrangement services including cremation, memorialization, ritual options and pet-loss grief support. Whether through a keepsake necklace, a Journey Urn that celebrates the chapter between pet and pet owner, or a memorial service in one of the viewing rooms, The Pet Loss Center offers a variety of options for pet owners to choose from.
Business partners Nick Padlo and Coleen Ellis, a nationally recognized pet loss expert, joined forces to bring The Pet Loss Center to Texas with plans to scale beyond.
“We saw a lack of consistent quality in the pet loss industry,” said Padlo, co-founder and CEO of The Pet Loss Center. “Coleen and I founded The Pet Loss Center on the principle of providing a seamless experience for pet parents and vets during a very emotional and difficult time. We want them to know they can trust us to respect their pets with the same dignity that is given to someone’s family member, because to us, our pets are our family.”
The Pet Loss Center developed Trusted Journey, a software system that tracks pets from their initial pickup from a veterinary clinic or pet parent’s home to their final goodbye. The Trusted Journey software system ensures pets are well taken care of along every step of the journey, giving pet owners and vets peace of mind knowing exactly where their pet is in the process.
“Honoring a pet after death is a natural way to mourn loss,” said Ellis. “We give pet parents the permission to mourn and memorialize their pet. We provide ways to celebrate the life of a pet while offering emotional guidance for pet parents and their families, including their children and other pets who are experiencing the loss of their beloved friend.”
Ellis, often referred to as the “Pet Loss Pioneer,” has extensive experience in the pet loss industry as an award-winning industry leader, author and founder of the first-ever stand-alone pet funeral home.
“I partnered with Nick because he brings so many unique aspects to the table that really help bring my vision to life,” said Ellis. “He is a decorated Army vet, a Stanford MBA grad, a millennial with a Silicon Valley background but, ultimately, he’s also a pet parent who is genuinely invested in seeing this industry become more sophisticated, better developed and more considerate to those affected by a pet’s death.”
The Pet Loss Center also equips vets with the training to address pet loss within their facility by providing Pet Loss and Grief Companioning classes as well as certification for grief counseling and tools for handling these difficult in-office experiences for their clients. The Pet Loss Center also offers personal counseling for vets and animal shelter employees as they often experience many losses over the course of their careers, which can result in “caregiver burnout.”
Mario Catalfamo, general manager of The Pet Loss Center in Austin, has more than nine years' experience in the customer service, healthcare and human service fields. Most recently, Catalfamo served as the hospital manager for BEEVET Animal Hospital where he and his team worked to ensure each client received top-quality care while being personable, sensitive and discreet – skills essential when aiding pet parents and veterinary clinics alike. Catalfamo graduated with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Social Work from Rhode Island College.
“Austin loves its pets. We have everything from dog-treat bakeries and doggy yoga classes to pet parades. If it’s pet-friendly, we likely have it here,” said Catalfamo. “We want to give our pets the best life imaginable because we appreciate the value they bring into our own lives. It made sense to expand The Pet Loss Center into Austin, so we can provide dignity to our pets both in life and in death.”
To bring honor to K-9 officer dogs and other service dogs, The Pet Loss Center offers services free-of-charge for dogs that have died in service.
The Pet Loss Center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. For 24/7 emergency services, pet parents and veterinary clinics can call the Austin urgent line at (512) 836-7297 or the Dallas urgent line at (817) 283-7297. To learn more about The Pet Loss Center visit ThePetLossCenter.com.
About The Pet Loss Center
Founded in 2015, The Pet Loss Center offers pet memorial services including cremation, memorialization, ritual options and pet grief support to pet parents and veterinary clinics at their locations in Dallas and Austin, Texas. The Pet Loss Center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The Pet Loss Center also owns Pet Heaven, a pet memorial services company, in Miami, Florida. To learn more, visit ThePetLossCenter.com.

Emancipet, Animal Trustees of Austin explore merger

from: emancipet.org

Emancipet and Animal Trustees of Austin are formally exploring a merger that will serve their complementary missions and ultimately serve more pets and the people who love them.
Epet+ATAThe boards of directors of Emancipet and Animal Trustees of Austin have signed letters of intent to merge, and are beginning due diligence to explore the feasibility of a full merger, which could be completed by the end of December.
To read more click here




Thursday, October 1, 2015

Apartment restrictions send adopted dog back to shelter

Elijah looking for a new home

from: kvue.com

AUSTIN – Eleven-year-old Elijah headed to a new home recently only to have to return to the Austin Animal Center he had previously called home. The reason behind his return highlights a problem many apartment renters face.
St. Edward’s University students Caitlin and Viviana returned their dog Elijah on Tuesday and said they were devastated.
"I was crying a lot yesterday," Caitlin said.
To read more click here

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Best of 9/11 stories: Last living Ground Zero Search Dog is a Texan

from: nydailynews.com

Bretagne the golden retriever was just 2 years old when she traveled with her handler to New York after the World Trade Center attacks. Today, the 15-year-old pooch is officially retired from rescue duties, but she still works as a service dog in elementary schools, helping special needs students learn to read.

BY 
A heroic dog is heading back to the site where she earned her superpup status.
Bretagne the golden retriever is the last surviving rescue dog who searched Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
This week, the 15-year-old pooch returned to the Manhattan site for the first time since 2001, her fur now more white than golden. At her side was Denise Corliss, her longtime handler and owner.
"Seeing this kind of took my breath away a bit, similar to how the pile was the first time I saw it," Corliss, told the Today show. "It's so calm and peaceful now, unlike the chaos of before."
Bretagne and Corliss arrived in New York City about a week after the attack on the World Trade Center. The Texas-based duo was part of a group brought in to relieve the first wave of first responders from duty.

COURTESY DENISE CORLISSEnlarge
Bretagne was just 2 years old when she traveled to New York City to search Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.ANDREA BOOHER/FEMAEnlarge







Thursday, September 3, 2015

Update: Texas vet who boasted about killing cat with bow and arrow found in violation by the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners



Dr. Kristen Lindsey lost her job as a veterinarian after killing a cat with a bow and arrow, then posing with the dead cat (covered up in the photo) in a Facebook post. (Photo: KBTX.com video) 

from: statesman.com

AUSTIN — Kristen Lindsey, the Texas veterinarian who outraged many for boasting about killing a cat with a bow and arrow, has been found in violation by the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.

KXAN reports that what the violation is was not revealed at the meeting. More details, and punishment, if any, is expected to be announced in October.
Animal rights advocates were outraged when Lindsey posted a photo on Facebook of herself, smiling, while holding a dead cat with an arrow through its head. The caption on the since-deleted post read, “My first bow kill, LOL. The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through its head! Vet of the Year Award…gladly accepted.”

At the time of the controversial Facebook post, she was working at the Washington Animal Clinic in Brenham. She was fired in April.
In June, a grand jury declined to indict Lindsey on animal cruelty charges.
According to KXAN, Lindsey believed the cat was a stray and had rabies. She claimed she shot the cat to protect her own animals. Local residents say the cat, named Tiger, was not a stray, but belonged to an older couple in the neighborhood.


Change.org petition demanding that her veterinary license be revoked has over 28,000 signatures.

Austin: Capital of Cat Lovers too!



In Austin, we love our dogs, but we also have room in our hearts (and our homes) for cats.
According to a recent study by Apartment List, renting an apartment with a cat is no problem in Austin, or Texas. The apartment indexing website used their data to calculate which pads would allow you to bring a feline friend along, based on each place’s listing details.
Out of 200 cities, Austin came in at No. 74, with half of the Texas capital’s apartments allowing cats to room with their humans.

According to Apartment List’s numbers, only 40 percent of apartments in the U.S. allow cats. Despite that low number, Texas came out on top in terms of feline friendliness.
Ten Texas cities made it into the list’s top 25 spots, including Houston, where 64 percent of apartments allowed cats, and Irving, where 74 percent of apartments welcomed them.
The coveted No. 1 spot went to the Woodlands, where one hundred percent off apartment complexes allowed cats.


Soon Austinites will have one more cat-friendly place in town – the feline-loving (and somewhat controversial)Blue Cat Cafe will be opening soon in East Austin.

Makes me sick and not just because it's behind the Statesman paywall: Neighbors report cat mutilations in South Austin

from: statesman.com

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

A small number of cats have reportedly been found mutilated in recent weeks.

A forensic veterinarian says coyotes are almost always to blame — but a human predator can’t be ruled out.

T


Newsworthy: Because 'going under' just to clean teeth is a risk


Austin Tomlinson pet stores offering anesthesia-free teeth cleaning

from: tomlinsons.com

These cleanings are:
  • Quick, easy, and pain-free
  • Completely free of drugs
  • Excellent for routine maintenance
  • Provided by the licensed vets and oral care specialists at Canine Dental Services
 Performed by Scott Blanchard and his team of licensed vets at Canine Dental Services, these drug-free cleanings are done using hand tools only. 
Scott holds the dog or cat in his lap while talking to him in a soothing, reassuring manner. His technique is gentle, thorough and completely drug-free. The cleaning itself takes about 20 minutes.
Please note that anesthesia-free dental cleanings are intended as a routine surface cleaning only and are not a substitute for extensive dental procedures. 
Your dog or cat will first have a brief wellness exam by a licensed veterinarian, and if more extensive oral care is needed such as extractions or treatment for gum disease, you will be referred to your vet for further treatment.

WHY SHOULD I HAVE MY PET’S TEETH CLEANED, PERIOD?

Why do you have your own teeth cleaned? To scrape off plaque before it hardens to tartar, and before either spread to cause more serious dental issues like cavities. 
Routine, thorough cleanings of your pet’s pearly whites will help prevent dental diseases like cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss so your pet can enjoy his favorite foods and a high quality of life into his golden years.

IS MY PET ELIGIBLE?

Dogs: All hand-friendly dogs that aren’t aggressive or overly fearful are welcome.
Cats: If your cat is less than four years old or has had a teeth cleaning in the past two years, is easy to handle and not likely to bite or scratch, and can be in their carrier while waiting, they can be treated.

 HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

The total cost is $165. We’ll take a $30 deposit to hold your spot, and you’ll pay the remainder at your appointment.

.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Greyhounds rejoice: Last dog racing track in Texas to close


Photo: ASPCA

By Tim Eaton - American-Statesman Staff
Gulf Greyhound Park in La Marque will end live dog racing, the last track in Texas to run greyhound races, officials confirmed Wednesday.
The dog track, which opened in 1992 near Houston and Galveston to great fanfare, has been struggling along with horse tracks across the state. Wagering is down 85 percent since its first full year in 1992, according to figures from the Texas Racing Commission.
The track will cease live racing effective Jan. 1, Gulf Greyhound Park General Manager Sally Briggs said in a statement provided first to the American-Statesman.
“We are unable to successfully compete with racetracks in surrounding states who offer expanded gambling opportunities,” she said, adding that the Texas Lottery, Internet gambling and the proliferation of illegal slot machine-like “8-liners” also have led to the track’s demise.
Further, she blamed “the continually rising cost of regulation in the face of a declining and much smaller industry.”
Nick James, executive director of the Texas Greyhound Association, said track officials tried without success to reduce the fees they pay to the commission.
“Their prudent monetary decision is to close,” James said.
Between 250 and 300 jobs at the track likely will be lost, plus 11 nearby kennels will suffer due to the closing, James said.
“It’s a big impact on the kennel owners, too,” he said. “It’s huge deal, and it’s going to be felt across the country.”
Briggs said that the dogs housed at the track will be sent to other states or go to adoption programs.
It’s unclear if Greyhound Racing Park still will offer simulcast betting, like the two other greyhound tracks in Texas that have already ended live racing.
The news came a day after the racing commission voted to defy state Senate leaders to keep in place a rule to allow historical racing. Racing industry representatives say the new form of gambling — which allows betting on already-run races with identifying markers stripped from horses — could revive the state’s seven racetracks. State Republican leaders call the move an illegal expansion of gambling.
The greyhound track’s tax payments likewise have plummeted. In 1993, the track paid the state $7.7 million in pari-mutuel tax, not counting real estate, admission, sales, liquor and other taxes. By 2004, the pari-mutuel tax fell to $436,000. Last year, the state collected $254,000 in pari-mutuel tax from Greyhound Racing Park, according to racing commission figures.
Before the track opened, several groups jockeyed for ownership, but Paul Bryant Jr. — the son of late University of Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant — ultimately led the winning bid to own the track.
At the time, dog racing was witnessing two decades of growth, and investors had estimated that the Galveston County track would generate handles — the amount bet on races — as high as $300 million annually.
Last year, the total handle amounted to $40.2 million, most of which came from live racing, off 57 percent from a decade earlier.
Christine Dorchak, president of the GREY2K USA animal advocacy group, called the news of the closing “a victory for everyone in the state who cares about dogs.” The group objects to the confinement and treatment of the race dogs, some of which have suffered serious injuries.
Total wagering at Gulf Greyhound
1993: $268.4 million
2000: $138.2 million
2004: $91.9 million
2010: $55.5 million
2014: $40.2 million
Source: Texas Racing Commission

Exclusive report: Yesterday was National Dog Day and Austin cats didn't notice

It's the day after and Austin cats still don't care


Friday, August 14, 2015

From across 'the pond'

Dogs sniff out medical breakthroughMeet the dogs hoping to sniff out a medical breakthrough - it's claimed they could be MORE reliable than current medical methods at detecting cancer Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Posted by Channel 5 News on Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Chron obit on a very good dog


from: austinchronicle.com

In Memoriam: Robin Goodfellow
Singular Austin improviser has taken his final bow (wow wow)

As the rest of the world mourns the loss of Uggie, that furry scene-stealer from The Artist, Austin is still grieving for the loss of its own canine superstar.Robin Goodfellow, one-half of the improv duoBuddy Daddy, passed away July 30, at the age of 10.
As noted by Buddy Daddy's human half, Arthur Simone, in an obituary on Facebook, Robin was "half beagle and half dachshund, and a preeminent member of the Austin Improv Collective since 2005."
"I got Robin from the SPCA about a month after Hurricane Katrina," Simone told the Chronicle's Wayne Alan Brenner in a 2007 interview. "I sought out a supermellow critter, and I sure got it. If he weren't so pliant, I doubt I could ever do a show with him." A dare from fellow improviser and New Orleans expat Chris Trew prompted Simone to take the stage with his canine pal at the Hideout Theatre in 2006. What might have been a one-off stunt became an improv staple, thanks to Simone's skill, as Brenner put it, "at conjuring characters from thin air and bringing their personalities to vivid, often humorous life" while responding to the actions – or lack thereof – of his canine collaborator.
"Goodfellow’s aloof and laconic characters over the years have included restless housewives, rocks and rock stars, the Phantom of the Opera, a submarine-with-periscope, spies, aliens, Hitler, a loaf of bread, tigers, and the new kid at school to name a few," noted Simone in his obit. "Unscripted performances with Simone as the comedy duo were usually accompanied by snacks, most notably cheese cubes."
Buddy Daddy performed most often in Austin, appearing regularly at the Out of Bounds Comedy Festival, but the duo also toured with the comedy group ColdTowne to Arizona and Washington, D.C.; headlined the Twin Cities Improv Festival in 2011; and headlined a fundraiser in Shreveport, La., for rescue animals, for whom Robin had a special fondness, being a rescue pup himself. Robin's onstage success and appeal also led to work beyond Buddy Daddy: Buddy Mommy, with esteemed improviser Jill Bernard; a guest stint with local sketch troupe Hoover's Blanket; screen appearances on America’s Got Talent and at the Alamo Drafthouse playing Babe the Pig; and Dystheatre’s production of Robin Goodfellow’s Hamlet, in which he played the Ghost, "eating plenty of ham along the way," according to Simone.
The response from the improv community was widespread and loving, with many improvisers recalling shows in which they watched or performed with Robin. "Magic" was a term used in more than one condolence. Dave Buckman called Robin "a Renaissance Dog," and John Ratliff said of him, "His emotional intelligence was acute, and he could read a room better than most people can." Those wishing to see some of Robin's work may do so on Simone's YouTube channel.
In addition to his partner and friend Simone, Robin Goodfellow is survived by his friends Meg Holle and the black lab Mudcat, who ask that those wishing to honor their pal make memorial donations to theSPCA.

Monday, August 10, 2015

I think I love this: Austin Animal Center's new Thinking Walk

from: dogsoutloud.com



Dogs Out Loud was awarded an enrichment grant from Animal Farm Foundation that we chose to use to support the dogs at our city shelter, Austin Animal Center. After working for several months to coordinate the project with the city, the components were installed at the shelter yesterday afternoon!
We managed to complete the project and have our set-up day fall just as August and its heat advisories have arrived in Austin, but we think the, um, “tans” we worked on yesterday will be worth it!
The Thinking Walk consists of 10 simple activity stations designed to make training and enrichment easy and accessible to all dogs, volunteers, and staff. It is set-up along the front courtyard loop of Austin Animal Center, a frequently traveled path for canine bathroom breaks and walks. Volunteers and staff can sneak in a little training during a potty break and not only help work the dogs’ minds, but give them skills to make them more adoptable!

Purina backs Beneful dog food as lawsuit expands

from: nbc.com

Pet food giant Purina launched a national campaign in support of its Beneful brand last week — just as an ongoing lawsuit against the brand expanded its allegations that the popular feed is making dogs sick.
The amended complaint against Nestlé Purina PetCare Company's Beneful dry kibble dog food was filed on June 8 in California federal court, adding 26 additional pet owners from states spanning coast to coast.
The lawsuit now alleges that Beneful contains toxins and that Purina has been offering cash settlements in exchange for silence from those who voice complaints about the brand.
The amendments to the suit come on the heels of a national campaign launched by Purina last week defending its products. The "I Stand Behind Beneful" campaign features a full-page advertisement in the New York Times and a TV commercial showing workers who both make Beneful and feed it to their own pets, the company said.
"This really boils down to the fact that we're really proud of the Beneful product and there are no issues with the quality," Keith Schopp, vice president of corporate relations for Purina, told NBC News. "We thought one of the best ways to show that pride would be actually through the men and women who make Beneful and feed it to their own pets."
The company featured a second full-page in the New York Times on Sunday after the initial launch this week.
Plaintiff and pet owner Frank Lucido, who claims one of his dogs died and two others became ill after eating Beneful, initiated the original lawsuit against Purina in early February of this year.
Jeffrey B. Cereghino, the lawyer spearheading the case against Purina, said he and the law firms participating in the suit have been contacted by thousands of people who believe Beneful may have poisoned their dogs.
"The immediacy of folks willing to participate was really quite extraordinary," he said.
The amended suit includes 26 additional plaintiffs with similar storiesand claims that Purina failed to disclose that the brand contains substances toxic to animals — including Industrial Grade Glycols (IGG), lead, arsenic and mycotoxins. The suit is seeking class-action status and $5,000,000 in damages.
Purina has continued to deny the allegations in the suit, publishing an extensive statement on its website on June 9 in response to the amended complaint.
"We're really disturbed by the ongoing false and unsubstantiated allegations," Schopp told NBC News.
The company said in the statement that Beneful is not formulated with IGG, but rather "high-quality human food-grade levels" of propylene glycol.
While Industrial Grade Glycols are not approved for use in food by the FDA, food-grade propylene glycol is approved as safe for use in human and dog food. The original lawsuit listed propylene glycol in its complaint, instead of IGG.
The Purina statement also says the company tests "for well over 150 substances," including mycotoxins, lead and arsenic as part of its food safety and ingredient surveillance programs.
Dr. Kurt Venator, director of veterinary strategy and programs at Purina, said the strict testing standards extend to their ingredient suppliers as well.
Purina products "meet or exceed food quality and safety standards," he said.
The pets listed in the lawsuit vary in age and in length of time consuming Beneful before becoming ill, but the consistent symptoms, according to the suit, include: vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, liver or kidney malfunction and failure, seizures, and even death.
Plaintiff Rob Benham, of Versailles, Indiana, told NBC News he and his family believe Beneful is responsible for the death of Sadie, a 7-year-old Miniature Fox terrier, and the ailing health of their 5-year-old Shih Tzu Willie.
Benham, 47, began feeding his dogs Beneful in June 2013, partially for financial reasons, he said.
"Purina is a household word, we felt very safe in doing that," he said.
Within a month, Sadie began losing weight dramatically, Benham said. When they took her to their veterinarian, they were informed Sadie had developed problems with her liver and would need medication. But the vet was unable to find the cause of the problem.
"He was baffled," Benham said. "He could think of no reason for it."
The symptoms only got worse.
"She started having trouble with her vision and was staggering everywhere," he said. "She had always been very healthy."
"On October 19 of 2013, we lost her," Benham said through tears.
Cereghino said there was a disconnect between the company's new campaign and how Purina has treated concerned customers.
The amended suit claims that Purina has been contacting consumers who post negative experiences with Beneful to social media, denying liability while offering them cash settlements in exchange for restrictive confidentiality agreements. The lawsuit claims to include a copy of a non-disclosure agreement for a complaint involving Beneful.
Schopp, the Purina spokesman, said any customer service agreements and compensation were "good-will gestures" by the company and a common practice in many industries.
"Anytime consumers have questions they can contact us, whether validated or not we have at times responded to them and offered compensation as a good-will gesture," he said. "The notion that this is something we just started or there is some sort of a negative motive here is nonsense."
The dry kibble variations named in the suit include Purina Beneful Healthy Weight, Purina Beneful Original, Purina Beneful Incredibites, and Purina Beneful Healthy Growth For Puppies, Purina Beneful Healthy Smile, Purina Beneful Healthy Fiesta, Purina Beneful Healthy Radiance, and Purina Beneful Playful Life. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

In case you were wondering: Pampered Pet care at the Driskill Hotel

Accommodations & Amenities

Assorted Dog Treats
When traveling to Austin, don’t worry about boarding your pet or looking for a sitter. Recognized as one of the nation's most pet-friendly hotels, The Legendary Driskill welcomes you and your four-legged friends to experience true Texas hospitality.
The Driskill's Pampered Pet Program includes:
  • Custom Driskill Pet Bed
  • Designer Dishes and Mat
  • Bottled Spring Water
  • Gourmet Pet Treats from 1886 CafĂ© & Bakery
  • Supply of Driskill Doggie Business Bags
  • Map of Austin with designated pet-friendly areas
We encourage guests to be respectful of the environment by scooping your pet’s waste. We provide you with bags, made from recycled plastic and have poop scoops available for use.
Please note the following pet policy. 
  • A $100 one-time non-refundable fee is charged for each "Pet Guest."
  • The maximum pet weight allowed is 75 pounds. Domesticated dogs (non-aggressive) only.
  • All pets must have received Bordotella and rabies vaccinations within the past 12 months. In addition, pet's name, weight, and breed must be provided for identification purposes during the reservation process.
  • Pets may not be left alone in the guest room at any time. Please contact our Concierge (512-391-7013) in advance if you need assistance in scheduling pet sitting services.
  • Please prevent your pet from barking or otherwise disturbing other guests. In the event that the Driskill Hotel incurs any loss of business or compensation is required for another guest due to noise complaints, those charges will be billed accordingly to your guest account. All dogs must be on a leash at all times while on the hotel premises.
  • Please clean up after your pet. Complimentary waste pick-up bags will be provided for you in the guest room. Please contact Guest Reception should you need more bags.
  • A Pet Map of downtown Austin will be provided for you. Please note the nearest park locations for your walking needs.
  • Pets are not permitted in the hotel restaurants or other public areas, with the exception of arriving and departing through the main lobby.
  • Although we welcome your pet, please respect our hospitality. Do not permit your pet to get on the bed coverings or the furniture. If additional cleaning is needed for bedding, carpeting or furniture, or if any damages are incurred due to your pet, all related charges will be billed to your credit card on file with the front desk.

When two visions of the 'Austin' life collide: City Council's compromise over music festival's use of leash-free dog park area on Vic Mathias/Auditorium Shores

from: austinmonitor.com
by Tyler Whitson
Amid concerns that Fun Fun Fun Fest would not take place this November at Vic Mathias Shores, City Council has intervened in negotiations between festival organizers and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to ensure that it goes forward as planned.
Council unanimously passed a resolution Thursday directing Parks and Recreation Department staff to allow organizer Transmission Events to use up to 1 acre of a newly renovated off-leash dog park to accommodate the event, which will take place Nov. 6-8.
The resolution also ensures that the rest of the 3.5-acre dog park will remain open for public use during the festival. It is adjacent to the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail and west of the event space and an additional multipurpose “flex” space that the festival will be using.
The Austin Monitor first reported in June concerns over the use of the off-leash dog park by the annual festival.
Council Member Greg Casar, who sponsored the resolution, made it abundantly clear that the directive applies only to this specific situation and is not a long-term solution.
“The present resolution is about helping to fix the short-term issues faced by all these events, the trail users and the neighborhood,” Casar said.
The events that Casar was referring to are the 40th annual Settlement Home for Children Charity Garage and Estate Sale, which will take place Nov. 5-8 at the Palmer Events Center, and the Austin Opera rendition of Verdi’s Aida, which will take place Nov. 7 at the Long Center for the Performing Arts.
Representatives from both events raised concerns over the past few weeks that the festival, if not properly set up and reigned in, would negatively impact their events by creating noise, odor, congestion and parking issues.
Marilyn Wilson, development director for the settlement home, and Jon Nash, president of the Austin Opera board of trustees, publicly expressed support for the resolution as a temporary fix, however, as it gives festival organizers more flexibility to move their equipment farther away from the other venues and sets other requirements for the event to follow.
These requirements include limiting street closures during the festival so that they don’t interfere with the other events.
“We need a short-term solution, which is why we are here in support of the efforts of Council Member Casar,” Wilson said. “I have to say, if we had it our way, the resolution would address the need for a long-term solution in which multiple events occurring in the same space, using the same facilities, would have been addressed.”
Though the resolution itself is not a long-term solution, it does direct city staff to begin reviewing the way that the Parks department, the Long Center and the Palmer Events Center coordinate their annual event schedules. “The Council desires that procedures involve early planning and communication among various stakeholders to best avoid conflicts between major events,” it reads.
These stakeholders include event organizers, neighborhood groups and others.
Proposing solutions for this specific issue next year and other issues related to large events on city parkland will be the responsibility of the city’s new Parkland Events Task Force, which will meet for the first time on Aug. 25.
In the meantime, Council Member Sheri Gallo said that Parks staff should not make any decisions about next year’s Fun Fun Fun Fest without consulting Council.
Transmission Events General Manager Bobby Garza told the Monitor that he has not yet begun to work out the venue details for next year’s festival.
Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association spokesperson Catie Mohin explained in an email to the Monitor on Thursday that her group is looking forward to a long-term solution.
“We know this is viewed as a one time fix given that the new Parkland (Events) Task Force will meet soon,” Mohin wrote. “Regardless, our focus is on setting clear guidelines so that this sort of issue is dealt with by clear rules in the future.”
Rendering of Vic Mathias Shores courtesy of the Parks and Recreation Department.

KEY PLAYERS & TOPICS IN THIS ARTICLE

Austin City Council: The Austin City Council is the body with legislative purview over the City of Austin. It offers policy direction, while the office of the City Manager implements administrative actions based on those policies. Until 2012, the body contained seven members, including the city's Mayor, all elected at-large. In 2012, City of Austin residents voted to change that system and now 10 members of the Council are elected based on geographic districts. The Mayor continues to be elected at-large.
City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department: The city department responsible for the city's park system, rec centers, and associated infrastructure.
Transmission Events: The organization behind Fun Fun Fun Fest and bookings for Mohawk, among other things.
- See more at: http://www.austinmonitor.com/stories/2015/08/council-reaches-fun-fun-fun-fest-compromise/#sthash.smmiJuFc.dpuf