Friday, September 22, 2017

Fundraiser Feature: Bosley

Bosley, also known as number 338, was saved from a puppy mill in Nebraska. As he sat alone in a cage far too small for him, the puppy mill owner happily agreed to let him go because he 'wasn't a proven breeder'. As his rescuers approached him, he began licking them and begging for attention, which he had been so deprived of through his first 3 years of life. 

Bosley's Original Painting - 11in x 14in on wrapped canvas. $120
100% of the profits from Bosley's painting will be donated to Bailing Out Benji!
Despite being only 3 years old, Bosley had already been sold from breeder to breeder and had experienced many different mills. Bosley was freed from his life as a caged breeder and how lives an amazing life with his new family. With everything this sweet boy went through, he still suffers some anxiety and nightmares, but his family is there for him and willing to give him all the time he needs to overcome his fears. 

Purchase this adorable original painting inspired by Bosley and 100% of the profits will be donated to help more pups like them! 

Not looking for a piece of art today? That's okay, we also have tote bags, prints and more available to benefit Bailing Out Benji!   Shop here>>

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Owner | Artist

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Best Friends Animal Society & Saving Lives in Houston

A row of kennels at the Best Friends
Rescue Reunion Pavilion in Houston, TX.
After Hurricane Harvey, a handful of rescue organizations committed to No Kill programs; Austin Pets Alive, Houston Pets Alive, Best Friends Animal Society and Houston Pet Set formed a partnership.

As they made a plan to save as many lives as possible, Austin Pets Alive paired up with their small grassroots partner Houston Pets Alive to pull animals at risk of euthanasia directly from the local shelters to create more space for stray animals while Best Friends Animal Society & Houston Pet Set began operating the Rescue Reunion Pavilion, which is currently housing animals that were brought in and could potentially have a family looking for them. These animals are currently being offered Veterinary care, food, water, comfortable safe housing and TLC as they wait for their families to find them.

Yesterday, after a short trip to Houston to visit my family, I decided to take a few minutes to visit the Rescue Reunion Pavilion to see the operation and give a personal Thank You to the team running this operation. I was welcomed with open arms, invited to volunteer for a couple of hours and see how things are going for myself. While I was volunteering, I was even able to witness a sweet reunion for one of the 100+ cats in their care. 

One of the sweet faces waiting to be reunited at the
Best Friends Rescue Reunion Pavilion. 
After visiting with the volunteers, I loved on a few dogs, spent time with the marketing team to discuss what they are doing to spread the word about the Pavilion and even had a few moments to help film a promotional video featuring a few of the kitties in their care. The operation is under amazing management. They have a wall dedicated to flyers that individuals have brought in as they search for their beloved pets. They have a team of volunteers dedicated to enrichment, building dog toys to offer some comfort to the animals that may be scared as they wait. They have fencing set up to keep animals enclosed and safe should one escape a kennel. They have laundry buzzing, an area for volunteers and staff to have down time, cozy blankets for the animals and a leadership team ensuring that things run smoothly. They have hours dedicated to down time for the dogs, so that no matter how crazy the day starts out, from 12 - 2, the kennel area is shut down for a bit to allow the dogs quiet time to decompress from the stress. 

Dogs receive down time to
decompress each afternoon.
This is an organization that is 100% there for the animals, they are kind, welcoming and extremely passionate. If these animals are able to be reunited with their families, Best Friends is working to ensure that they exhaust every option that they can to get them home. If not, they will be given the opportunity to find loving homes. No matter what their situation was before, they are now safe. 

Houston has a chance to learn from this tragedy. They can embrace life saving programs, open their minds to organizations like Best Friends and Austin Pets Alive and allow a conversation on how to save lives. They have the opportunity to keep the momentum going. Thousands of stray animals were transferred to No Kill rescue organizations. Thousands of animals that may have continued to live on the streets or worse are now safe. 

Thank you Best Friends Animal Society. Thank you Austin Pets Alive, Houston Pets Alive and Houston Pet Set. Thank you to every amazing life-saving rescue organization for the work you do. Thank you. Thank you! 

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Owner | Artist 

Best Friends Animal Society is a 501(c)3 non profit organization located in Kenab, Utah. Currently, they are deployed to Houston through mid-October and setup at the NRG Arena (1 NRG Parkway, Houston, TX 77054). They are in need of experienced dog walking volunteers. If you are in the Houston area and would like to volunteer, fill out their quick and easy volunteer application and sign up for a shift!!

Below are just a handful of animals I was able to meet that are currently waiting to be reunited with their families. To see a full list of animals in Best Friend's care, click here

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Houston: Shelter Killing, Forgotten Promises

Houston is a city that will always have a piece of my heart. I grew up in a lower income area of town,
One of the pups currently waiting to be reunited
at the NRG Arena in Houston, TX.
one that many people might avoid these days. I had an amazing childhood, with neighborhood friends, in fact my best friend of 30+ years grew up next door to me. On several occasions, we discovered a litter of stray kittens on our block and of course, they came home with me. I would hide them in my room until my parents discovered them, then (usually after a lecture on why I need to stop bringing home stray kittens) together, we would find them new families. 

As I grew up, I became very aware of the homeless animal population in Houston. It really started when my Papa (grandpa) showed up one day with a surprise pair of baby Dachshunds that were rescued from the local pound (Houston SPCA). These babies had been pulled from the shelter by a local rescue. A friend of my Papa, who worked with this rescue mentioned their story to him and he thought that they would make a great pair of pups for his granddaughters. I was in second grade, and vividly remember coming home from school one day to these two wiggly little puppies. My Papa shared their history, they were dropped off at the Houston SPCA one night and because they were covered in mange, completely bald, the shelter had scheduled them for euthanasia. Luckily, a local rescue happened to be looking for animals to pull into their program and they were saved, treated and after a few months, adopted for us! It was my first true experience with a rescue organization and one that left a lasting impact on my life. 

Rizo is estimated to be 20 - 23 years old now! 
A few years down the road, my dad was working his regular shift at Station number 6 for the Houston Fire Department. His station was located downtown, so an occasional stray dog wandering around the parking lot wasn't out of the ordinary. However, one dog in particular caught the eye of the firefighters. Rizo, as we named him was a scraggly little longhair chihuahua mix who had obviously been abused before making his way to the station. He had big welts the size of tennis balls on his side, was terrified of everyone and would bolt at the sight of a water hose or broom. Somehow, my dad managed to wrangle him into his truck and brought him home, where my little pre-teen self smothered him with love until he learned to trust us and accept that we loved him. Rizo is still living with my parents and we estimate he is somewhere between 20 - 23 years old today. We know his time is running short, but this little Houston street-dog was given a life that not every dog is as lucky to live. 

I mention these stories as they were a huge part of shaping my love for animals and passion for rescue. While I know that there are not 1 million stray dogs in Houston as so many rescues proclaim (I mean, the streets would literally be covered in stray dogs), there is a stray problem in Houston and it is one that needs a solution. Last month, Hurricane Harvey devastated the city that I grew up in. It destroyed homes, claimed lives and disrupted life in one of the largest cities in our country. Thousands of animals were rescued from the streets and flooded homes of Houston. Thousands of these animals coming to my area in Austin to start their lives by being adopted into loving home. These animals were already in shelters in Houston, not owned animals. Austin rescues pulled these adoptable, shelter animals to make space for strays and truly lost pets from the storm. Many of these animals were dogs and cats that were at risk of euthanasia at the city shelters and may not have been given the opportunity to find a new home. 

Houston has historically ignored life-saving programs. The city shelters continue to kill healthy and adoptable animals rather than implement proven programs to save more lives. The Houston SPCA severed ties and is refusing to work with organizations that stepped in during the initial days following the hurricane because they do not want to be held accountable to saving the lives of animals in their care. They refuse to offer transparency to their programs, close their doors to people searching for their pets and continue to kill dogs labeled as 'pit bulls' deeming them dangerous before even assessing their temperaments. Houston is in a crisis and despite promises by the city council and representatives as they were working to be elected, little to nothing has been done over the last several years to change the way the shelters are run.

Enter Hurricane Harvey. This is one of the roughest storms to hit Houston and the devastation can be
The Rescue Reunion Pavilion with Best Friends
NRG Arena. Houston, TX.
felt all across the city. While this event has been horrible, one bright spot is that it may pave the way for change when it comes to animal sheltering in Houston. Rescue organizations across the state (even across the country) have stepped in to offer support, transferring animals out of the high-kill city shelters and into no-kill rescue organizations. The plight of animals rescued after the storm has been in the spotlight for several weeks now and organizations have stepped in to offer more long-term support as the city recovers from this tragedy. Animals that may have had no option are being given care. Animals that may have died in the city shelter have been offered sanctuary and a guarantee at life with no-kill rescues.

I moved to Austin in 2005 and immediately recognized this city's love for animals. However, even in Austin, it took a small grassroots effort led by Austin Pets Alive to inspire change. Today, APA has partnered with and is working hand in hand with Houston area rescues, inspiring change. It took hard work, leadership and working with our local government to reach our goals. It didn't happen overnight, but it did happen. Houston has millions of citizens, millions of animal lovers that would be outraged if they truly knew what was happening behind closed doors. It takes outrage to inspire change.  Get involved, speak out and share your voice. The animals in Houston are depending on you to make those life-saving changes!

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Owner | Artist

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Fundraiser Feature: Mabel

Mabel was rescued from an Amish Puppy Mill at 10 years old. In that time, it is estimated that she had between 17 and 18 litters of puppies, each being sold for thousands of dollars because she is a special 'Coton de Tulear'. Of course, she absolutely is special, but to the puppy mill, only because she was able to bring in so much money. 
Mabel's Original Painting - 11in x 14in on wrapped canvas - $120
100% of the profits will be donated to Bailing Out Benji
During her time in the mill system, Mabel was kept in horrible conditions in one of the worst puppy mills in Iowa. Mabel had such matted, tangled fur, she had to be shaved completely to remove the knots and dirt. After her rescue, she spent months in a foster home, experiencing love and kindness for the first time in her life. Mabel was terrified but with lots of time and patience, she began to come out of her shell and finally learned to trust the humans who were caring for her. 

Purchase this adorable original painting inspired by Mabel and 100% of the profits will be donated to help more pups like them! 

Not looking for a piece of art today? That's okay, we also have tote bags, prints and more available to benefit Bailing Out Benji!   Shop here >>

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Owner | Artist

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Cats! Cats! and Cats!

Since I truly believe that you can never have enough cats in your life, here are a few photos of the kitties that I recently photographed for the fantastic Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter! All of these sweet babes are up for adoption, so don't wait another second if you are looking to adopt a new feline family member! Go scoop up one of these cuddly kitties!

Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter
1855 S. E. Innerloop
Georgetown, TX 78628

Shelter Hours:
M-F 12pm - 6pm, Sat & Sun 11am - 5pm

Bella Boo

Cloud - ADOPTED!!

Colonel Meowskowitz