Volunteering at the Austin Humane Shelter: Part 6

So since it’s now been forever since I did an update, and since I apparently still can’t think of anything to write about diet, training, etc. I figured I’d do an update on my time at the Austin Humane Shelter.  I’ve now been there a full year and a half (I started in November of 2010 as I was crawling out of my depression, as I detailed in Volunteering at the Austin Humane Shelter series) and quite a bit has happened since then.

I’ll be mainly focusing on 2011 since, frankly, last year was crazy almost from start to finish.  Actually, it wasn’t crazy, it was pretty much a disaster.  Things started off quietly enough, the first couple of months were just normal times at the shelter.  I was deep into my winter training grind and volunteering regularly.  We pick up in Februrary, 2011.


Working Blue
By the time I had been at the shelter for four months, I have moved from a newbie Green BRATT through Blue Dot and then had taken a special full blue BRATT class (that was put together for 5 of us who had forgotten to get into the main class).   It was five classes across 6 weeks and, at this point, we were into full on dog training. As a reminder (or for folks who didn’t or don’t want to read the original series), the Austin Humane Shelter dog volunteer program uses a color system to ‘rank’ the dogs.

Similarly, dog walkers (called BRATT’s which stands for Behavioral Rehoming Assessment Training Team; a description of what we do) are ranked by color and you can only walk dogs at your color level and below.  There are are a number of reasons for this (ranging from safety to consistent training) but the color levels mainly rank the dogs on what type of general behaviors you can expect.  In order from easiest to hardest:


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.

Channel 6 News Story about the AHS and the Bastrop Seizure.

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.


Loretta Update: Loretta Has Her Forever Home

Yes, I know I was supposed to do the second part of my race report today but tough; this is more important.   A few days back, I received the following in an email from the Austin Humane Shelter.


Loretta – Adopted 4/14/11

Loretta and Miles Adopted!

We had two longtime residents adopted this week.  Loretta’s journey involved many of us here at AHS, and began when she came to us with severe medical issues including skin and eye problems.  Thanks to generous support and attention from donors, staff, and volunteers, she is in her forever home.  It was a true team effort!  Miles had been with us for over three months and received countless hours of attention from BRATTS. We wish all the best for these two pups!

Miles is another dog who’s been at the shelter for a while so it’s good that he finally found his forever home.  I seem to recall being told that Loretta and Miles were the only two dogs we had left from 2010 who hadn’t found a home.

Honestly, I’m surprised it took as long as it did for Loretta to get adopted although the fact she was in foster was probably part of it.   Her foster mom, who has had her for the past several months didn’t want to put her back in the shelter though, which is fully understandable.  In any case, when dogs aren’t at the shelter to be seen they can be ‘out of sight, out of mind’ but finally someone has taken her home.

It’s been a long road to get here, from her initial intake, her multiple medical treatments, months in foster.  And now, finally she has a home where I’m sure she’ll be happy and the people who adopted her will be too.  Thank you again to everybody who contributed to Loretta’s treatment and who have been following her progress over the months.

Loretta Update: Loretta is Ready for Adoption

So we’re getting close to the end of the road.  A while back, in Volunteering at the Austin Humane Shelter Part 5 I asked readers to help by donating money for the medical fees of a dog named Loretta.  They’d found her sitting on two couches; with massive hair loss and problems with her eyes, she needed medical treatment.  I asked for help and people came out of the woodwork.

A little while later, Loretta had her surgeries.  And I do mean surgeries, I’m aware of at least three that she was given and the vets managed to save her eye despite our having originally been told that she’d lose it.  I talked about this a bit, with a little holiday cheer from Loretta herself in Loretta Update: Merry Christmas.

Shortly thereafter, Loretta was moved into foster care with one of the high level BRATT’s named Whitney.  I’ve mentioned Whitney previously, she’s the one I take all of my annoyingly detailed questions to; she seems to know everything.  In any case, she took Loretta in for foster care as I talked about in Loretta Update: Loretta Has a Foster Home.

I actually spent some time with Loretta the other day, Whitney had brought her in and we tried to get her into a playgroup with Rocco.  Unfortunately, Rocco wasn’t feeling quite up to snuff (he was coming down with an upper respiratory tract infection) or up to playing; they got along just fine.  She was just as lovable as ever.

Oh yeah, if you’re wondering why I’m recapping all of this, it’s not just me being wordy for the sake of being wordy.  Rather, it’s a spacing issue because of how I have the main page of the site set up; I’m trying to get enough text here so I can push the video onto the next page.

In any case, after many long months, Loretta is up for adoption.  She’s listed with the other dogs on the Austin Humane Society (second column, fourth dog from the top as I post this) website and there are several pictures and a video of her available.  I’ve embedded the video below, it shows how far she’s come since her first arrival, through her surgeries to now.


The Inside Books Project: Helping Inmates

Today is going to be another one of those posts that isn’t about fat loss or training; no, it’s not about dogs.  Not today.  And while I don’t want to turn my site into a constant request to help out various groups I do want to talk about another one that I think is important today.

During the Volunteering at the Humane Society series, in Volunteering at the Humane Shelter Part 4 to be specific, I talked generally about why I think volunteering is good along with describing a second volunteer project I was involved with (Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic which reads books onto digital media for those with any number of reading impairments).  I also mentioned briefly that I had made a new friend here in Austin who was involved with her own two projects.  Today I’m going to talk very briefly about one of them and in some detail about the other one of them.


Food Not Bombs

The first is Food-Not-Bombs. I won’t make a hash of things by trying to describe it and will simply paste their description from their website:

Food-Not-Bombs shares free vegan and vegetarian meals with the hungry in over 1,000 cities around the world to protest war, poverty and the destruction of the environment. With over a billion people going hungry each day how can we spend another dollar on war?

It’s a nationwide organization food drive which, so far as I can tell, has a bit of an anarchistic bent (I’m basing this primarily on conversations with my friend who prefers to remain nameless here).  I don’t have much to add to that or say further.  If it’s something you’re interested in, get on their website and get involved.