I'll be mainly focusing on 2011 since, frankly, last year was crazy almost from start…
Austin Kitty Limits and Puppypalooza May 27th, 2011
It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about the Austin Humane Shelter and while this post is short-notice (it would have been up earlier but I was having site issues yesterday) I wanted to put the word out about a big event going on at the Austin Humane Society tomorrow. That event has the somewhat silly name of Austin Kitty Limits (a play on Austin City Limits) and Puppypalooza (Lollapalooza); never let it be said that the folks who run the Austin Humane Society don’t have a sense of humor.
Basically it’s a big festival with lowered adoption fees (i.e. $20 dog adoption down from the normal $85), live music (from noon to four), vendors, kids activities and dog knows what else. I wasn’t there last year so I don’t know what to expect this year. Now, in a sense this isn’t any big deal, the shelter runs adoptions specials from time to time and this isn’t the first event like this we’ve done. So why am I talking about this one?
The AHS Gets a TON of Dogs at Once
Well, because of something that happened earlier this week. On Saturday of this past week an email was sent out to everyone at the shelter including the volunteers about something major that had happened. The long and the short of it is that we were getting 120+ dogs that day that had been seized from a hoarder out in Bastrop. I was never actually quite clear on the details until just now when I watched the news story that I’ve linked below but it didn’t matter.
The point was that we had an absolutely massive influx of dogs into the shelter. But these weren’t just ‘typical’ rescue dogs. Apparently they had all been living in squalor and dirt in this one house and were coming in in wide variety of conditions. And the shelter was simply overwhelmed. The dog population at least doubled and they were scrambling not only to find space for the dogs but to take care of them. ALL of them.
They needed all the help they could get to take care of the issue and they sent out a call to anyone who could come in to help in some capacity. I went in this past Sunday to help for a few hours, every available cage and space had been taken up; the entire auditorium was being used as doggie triage (you’ll see it if you watch the video above) until they figured out who was who (it didn’t help that there were some naming problems), who needed what and what we could do about it.
The staff was completely frazzled, having been dealing with this since at least the day before. They were trying to take care of all of the incoming dogs along with running the shelter (and weekends are always busy anyhow). One even apologized to me for being ‘too sharp’ with me about something he needed taken care of. It was no big deal, they were under a lot of stress and for good reason.
Dogs needed to be pottied and taken care of, they needed to be groomed and/or shaved (in the case of dogs who had matted dirty dreadlocks like Marley; told you the folks at the shelter have a sense of humor) and then the filth washed off of them, the clinic vets worked around the clock to get shots done and medical tests done. Of course we had to take care of our normal dogs at the same time. It wasn’t enough to just have a normal volunteer group there. Here’s an example of the kind of doggie mess that was being dealt with.
It wasn’t helpful that many of these dogs weren’t really socialized. Many of them had never had a leash put on them or really dealt with people. Dogs like that tend to be terrified of you and hide in the back of their cage or freak out when you do put a leash or collar on them. You don’t want to grab at dogs if you can avoid it as it just makes them more fearful.
So folks were having to sit with dogs until they relaxed enough to come to them and then most had to be carried to the runs (normal dogs were taken only to the field for pottying which is another headache since not all dog walkers are even qualified for the field) to do their business. And we needed people to sit out there in the heat while they got some out of cage time. Any Green BRATTs who showed up, who often have little to do, now had tons to do since they could sit with the dogs in the runs.
The dogs who could be moved up were put straight in the ‘up for adoption’ kennel (what we call the K-9 kennel) although they were usually paired up in the cages; there simply wasn’t space to give each dog their own cage. It’s a good thing that almost all of them were small (we got one bigger dog as I recall).
The shelter put out a further call to the community to offer foster home services, just temporary housing until we could get everyone taken care of. And, Austin being what it is, we got a lot of response. People came in from everywhere, whether they were involved with the shelter or not to help out. As the news story shows local groomers helped out too to try to get the dogs fixed up.
This went on all week with volunteers and staff working with the rescue dogs in what seemed like never ending work. I’ve been in multiple times for either normal dog walking duties or to help out with the other dogs. And folks have been there around the clock getting this taken care of. Which is all a big lead up to tomorrow. My understanding is that most of the dogs will be available for adoption. That’s on top of it being a big old party (hopefully the weather won’t be too miserably hot).
So Come Check it Out
So if you’re in the Austin area or know someone who is, please stop by (or tell them to stop by). I’ll be there from around noon to 3:30, probably handling dogs. And if you’ve been looking for a dog, with the lowered adoption prices (like I said, $20 for adult dogs down from $85), they are a bargain at 4 times the cost. So adopt 4. Or foster. Or make a donation.
Or just come hang out. The shelter is located on the north frontage of 183 (the street address is 124 West Anderson Lane ) across from the Red Lobster underneath the freeway.
I hope to see you there.