Buy a sick-cute pet calendar, support a new nonprofit in Austin

I love discovering new Austin nonprofits, so when Brittani Bash contacted me about, I had to know more.

Plus… I mean, you gotta love this calendar (see below). Ridiculous and sick-cute at the same time.

1. What service do you offer pet owners in our community?

Austin Pet Finder offers pet owners easy access to online pet information in Central Texas. At you’ll find a growing resource for Central Texas pet owners, animal shelters, rescue organizations and veterinarians. We have a user friendly database for those wanting to post an ad in our lost and found database. We also provide essential information on pet health, Austin dog parks, pet friendly hotels, eateries and more!

2. What inspired the site? What need is it filling?

Austin Pet Finder was founded by Austin native, Katherine Holtry, in the summer of 2009. Katherine is a wife, mother and has been a radio and television personality for over a decade.

Katherine’s true passion is pets. As a child, she was always bringing home stray animals, and even today her household consists of several stray cats and dogs. APF was initiated on Facebook after Katherine rescued a stray kitten from a South Austin strip mall. Thanks to APF, the stray kitten enjoys a wonderful life with her loving adoptive family. Shortly after that time, APF acquired

3. What are some ways we can help it grow?

Two ways:

1. In January 2010, APF’s first annual calendar was designed in hopes of taking its cause to the next level, becoming a non-profit organization. Calendars can be purchased online here.

2. We need volunteers. Our organization could not exist without volunteers.

Fundraising – APF is completely dependent on donations. Assist in all aspects of finding individual and business sponsors; develop and assist with fundraising events.

Marketing/PR/Graphic Design – Help educate the public about APF and our mission. Seek out public speaking opportunities; presentations at local fairs and other events; distribute PR materials at events and local businesses. Create a variety of promotional materials including brochures, ads, posters and flyers.

Volunteer Coordination – Assist in all aspects of recruiting, orienting, determining placement of, and coordinating volunteers for APF.

Write – Contribute a variety of marketing materials.

To help, contact Brittani,  Operations Director at 512 413-1064, or

My sister is overwhelmed

My sister’s the introspective type. She’s also the type who just puts down her purse and gets things done, which is part of what I love about her. She doesn’t work but she keeps herself busy with a number of projects, and right now, she’s rescuing dogs.

My sister lives in San Antonio with her husband, two dogs, and four cats. These are animals she’s rescued because she just can’t bear the thought of their not having good homes. The problem is, she can only rescue so many dogs, and apparently San Antonio’s pet rescue network is nowhere near as strong as ours in Austin. Their no-kill shelter has a waiting list to get in, and there are only two animal cruelty officers for the whole city.

So what happens is she’ll come across a case of dog abuse and take it upon herself to help the animal, sometimes climbing a fence to give it water, fresh food, some attention, and a new blanket or some shade. It’s the kind of thing we all want to do when we see an animal who needs help, but we don’t do because we don’t want to get involved – or arrested.

She’s been doing this a while, but she’s totally overwhelmed by all the cases of abuse she comes across. And I’m not just talking about dogs with warm water, I’m talking about dogs who suffer disease, starvation, heat exhaustion… really horrible, preventable things.

I tried to talk to her last night about other ways she can act that will have an impact. She said, “The thing is, Monica, I don’t want that job. I don’t want to do it.”

And yet, it depresses her to witness the cruelty.

I think everyone needs to find that point of action where you start to feel a little more in-control, where you feel comfortable that you’re making a difference. For some people that satisfaction comes from helping just one, feeding one, rescuing one animal. But for my sister, that’s not enough. And yet, she doesn’t want to do more, not because she’s lazy – she is nowhere near lazy – but because she’s overwhelmed.

GivingCity Issue 1: Download it here!

Please feel free to send this link to a friend of colleague. Also, thanks for adding us to your media list – we’d love to hear more about your organization and cause.

To download your copy, just click on the cover or on the link below. Please let us know what you think. Feel free to send me any feedback or post a comment below.

(File size 5MB)

The guide to doing good in Austin
The guide to doing good in Austin




Every dog will have its day… thanks to Leona!

This from the New York Times today: In her will Leona Helmsley bequeathed almost her entire fortune to dogs. Well, originally she had said “people and dogs” but apparently she scratched out “people” in a revision.

The entire forture is somewhere between $5 and $8 billion. Billion. That is almost 10 times as much as the combined assets of all animal-related NPOs in the United States.

How in the heck could anyone spend that much money on just dogs? I’m sorry to ask that, but that’s a lot of money just for dogs. Think they’ll open that up to all animals? Or maybe dogs and their owners?

We’ll let the judge and executors figure that one out, but keep in mind that this is a woman who left almost millions to her dog, Trouble, who now needs $100,000 a year in security to protect it from folks who found that outrageous.

If you ever thought of starting a nonprofit for dogs, this might be a good time.

JUNE 7: Gimpy the Rabbit really needs you

I run across this kind of stuff all the time, but this one I couldn’t pass up. I’m going to tag this one as, “I had no idea…”

The House Rabbit Resource Network, an Austin nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of Austin house rabbits and connecting house rabbit enthusiasts, holds the monthly Rabbit Adoption Day at the Arboretum Petco. This month’s adoption day is this Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. I dare you to walk by the display of orphaned rabbits and not do whatever it takes to get one home.

Not only can you learn more about how to live with a rabbit, the organization can also help you set up a “rabbit love connection” to pair your rabbit up with that special some-bun. Like, seriously. I mean, they really say that.

It’s worth noting that this year marks HRRN’s 15th anniversary, and they’re planning a big celebration for Saturday, June 21, from 1 to 4 p.m.

If you do anything today – even if you don’t have time – you MUST browse the “rabbits available for adoption” page. Please see especially Gimpy, who, according to his adoption page, has “impeccable litterbox habits despite my ‘disablilty.'”

Maybe it’s time for us to pay more attention to our rabbit friends….?

Austin’s remarkable pet-food network

According to an AP story, more pet owners across the country are unable to afford pet food and, therefore, are lining up outside food pantries to feed their animals. This among other tough choices pet owners are having to make in the wake of the foreclosure crisis, looming recession, rising cost of fuel and other financial pressures.

The story reports that many pet owners are choosing to abandon their pets or dump them on a friend of relative because they can no longer afford to care for them.

In looking to find out if more people in Austin are turning to pet food banks, I learned a little about the web of individuals and groups that help keep Austin animals fed every day and – let me tell you – it’s complicated.

For example, my first thought was to contact Town Lake Animal Shelter. Turns out they do accept donations, but I learned from its Web site that they prefer only canned pet food and they don’t hand out pet food to individuals. (Why only canned? It stores better than dry.)

If you do give dry pet food, that gets picked up from a woman named Liz who operates a massive pet food bank out of her garage. She distributes mostly to animal rescue groups in Austin rather than individuals, though she has helped Katrina victims and their pets. She also operates a greyhound rescue group, by the way.

Liz picks up from the shelter but also receives donations from barrels placed around pet stores, Wal-marts and Targets around the city. Notice that broken 100-pound bag of dog food spilling into the aisle? That’s probably going to wind up in Liz’s garage.

Apparently if you’re an individual who needs help feeding your pet, you turn to Animal Trustees of Austin. I haven’t heard back from them yet to confirm this, but when I do I will update this site. I also hope to learn if more people are seeking free pet food.

How is it that we don’t know more about this huge network of groups helping Austin animals? Well, as Liz put it: “There are people out there who do some of these things… we don’t make a big deal out of it. Maybe it’s because, for one thing, we can’t do much more than we’re doing.”

In her 10 years of running this pet food bank out of her garage, Liz also adds, “I have met some people I never would have met and done some things I never would have done.” Does she have plans for slowing down? “Well, I have noticed that since I turned 70 a few years ago, I can’t lift those 50-pound bags like I used to.”


Today: Sign to save polar bears

Endangered polar bears

There’s a scene in the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” with an animated  polar bear swimming across a warming Arctic Ocean trying to find a little island of ice to rest on. It’s a really moving scene. And whether the Arctic Ocean becomes too warm to maintain the polar bears’ habitat within 10 years or 100 years, anyone who’s watched the documentary should consider that scenario today.

According to, the Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne will decide whether to protect polar bears under the Endangered Species Act on Thursday, May 15. The site is collecting signatures to send to the Secretary over the next 24 hours.

To sign the petition, go here: SIGN PETITION to PROTECT POLAR BEARS

To slow down global warming, use less energy. That might help the polar bears – and any species not yet on the endangered species list.