In 2012, Mike Kaviani was hired to do the seemingly impossible at Austin Pets Alive!. The large, private nonprofit was a key player in pushing the Texas capitol to become no-kill—to save at least 90 percent of all homeless animals. But APA! wanted to touch the stars, to see how close they could get to 100 percent. To do that, the group took in dogs who had landed on the euthanasia list at the city shelter. Some were on that list for medical reasons, but more were on it because of their behavior. They weren’t easy dogs.
What does freedom look like? For some lucky dogs, cats, pigs, sheep, alpacas, cows and horses, it’s endless rolling green pasture and grassland, open skies full of sunshine and starlight, earth under their feet, and companions to play with. It’s the absence of fear, pain and stress. It’s a place in Wyoming called Kindness Ranch, the only USDA-approved sanctuary in the U.S. that takes in all sorts of animals used in laboratory research.
Small rescue groups tend to be overlooked by larger rescue groups when it comes to disaster relief. After the Florida Keys, Highlands County was hit the hardest by Hurricane Irma and declared a Disaster Zone. Our staff is exhausted, our dogs are traumatized, we just got water and air-conditioning but at least our little St. Francis statue is still standing!
Successful dog trainers know that a little showmanship engages students, but Jeff Jenkins may be the only one whose resumé boasts being a Ringling Brothers clown. This experience no doubt explains his ability to effortlessly turn the occasional training fail into an entertaining how-to that brings together people of all ages and backgrounds to laugh and learn.
Dogs and vodka? At first glance, an unlikely pairing. Dig a little deeper, however, and the connection emerges. Through its Vodka for Dog People program, Tito’s Handmade Vodka of Austin, Texas, pursues its mission to “unite with our friends, fans and partners to better the lives of pets and their families far and wide.”
Disasters like those created by Hurricane Harvey in southeastern Texas have a way of bringing out the best in people: a desire to help, lend a hand, do something to make the lives of those living through them—both people and animals—a little less grim.
School’s out for the year, but for the dogs in the all-volunteer Prison Greyhounds foster program, classes are still in session. At the Putnamville Correctional Facility near Greencastle, Ind., two-man inmate handler teams work with retired racing Greyhounds to prepare them for life on the outside.