These dogs were reunified with their owners in Austin post-Hurricane Harvey and it’s the best

Sometimes, even a natural disaster can’t separate man’s best friend and his owner.

As Houston and the Texas coast continue to recover from the devastating impact of Hurricane Harvey, Austin-area animal shelters are also struggling to care for the hundreds of displaced animals they have taken in in recent weeks. But while this continues to be a time of uncertainty and transition for many pets, there have also been at least a couple happy endings.

Take, for example, Lion, who was living with his owner/dad Oliver Santos in Houston when Hurricane Harvey hit. After water flooded the first floor of the house, Oliver and his family evacuated from a second-floor window via kayak. Because there was no space on the kayak, the family was forced to leave Lion and his two four-legged siblings behind on the second-floor balcony. Oliver feared he would never see Lion again.

Eventually, Lion was found and brought to safety in Austin, living first in a temporary shelter at the Travis County Exposition Center and ultimately transferred, along with 170 other dogs, to the Austin Humane Society. Thanks to his microchip, the Austin Humane Society, working in partnership with the Austin Animal Center, was able track down the Santos family. On Labor Day weekend, they drove to Austin to get Lion.

Lion with Oliver 2
Lion reunites with his owner, Oliver, at the Austin Humane Society. credit: Austin Humane Society

“As soon as Lion saw them, he jumped his front paws onto Oliver’s lap and got the biggest grin,” said Ericka Miller, director of communications for the Austin Humane Society. “Then, he rolled over for tummy rubs. It was very clear he knew his family!”

Happy Lion
A happy Lion after being reunited with his Houston-based family at the Austin Humane Society. credit: Austin Humane Society

The reunification was a bright spot during a tough time for the Santos family, who is currently staying with friends because the hurricane destroyed their home. They have not yet located their two other dogs but remain hopeful because they are microchipped, too.

Lion with Family
Lion reunites with his family at the Austin Humane Society. credit: Austin Humane Society

Sophie, another displaced Houston pup who was also transferred to the Austin Humane Society from the Travis County Exposition Center, also recently experienced a happy reunification. Although she was not microchipped, the Austin Animal Center had the address where she was rescued in Houston and reached out to her owners, the Salazar family. The family, which had just found their other dog in Houston, drove to Austin to pick up Sophie as soon as they heard the news. Once again, their family is complete.

sophie reunion
Sophie reunites with her family at the Austin Humane Society. credit: Austin Humane Society

In the coming weeks, local shelters will continue to try to track down owners using information from microchips and even new facial recognition technology, Miller said. Here’s hoping we’ll be hearing many more reunification stories in the coming weeks.

 

Meet Chewie: The dog who’s the neighborhood garbage man

Chewbacca Villalpando has his head deep into a bag that once held mahi mahi. He found it empty on our neighbor’s lawn. Nicole Villalpando/For America-Statesman

 

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April is Earth Month, and while I’m not sure that my 1-year-old German shepherd/retriever mix has any concept of the calendar, Chewie (short for Chewbacca) is a one-dog neighborhood cleanup crew.

RELATED: RAISING CHEWIE, PARENTING OF THE PUPPY KIND

Every morning and night on our walks, he’s looking for something tasty — someone else’s trash — that he can bring home for all of us to enjoy. Of course, the best part for him and for us to watch is the 20 seconds it takes for him to turn whatever he’s found into tiny pieces.

Most dog owners might think this is a disgusting habit. I say Chewie’s helping to clean up the neighborhood, and he’s speeding up the decomposition process.

Chewbacca Villalpando has torn this bag to shreds. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

Just in the past month, Chewie has brought home for us to enjoy:

1 plastic wrapper that once contained mahi mahi

1 empty Styrofoam meat tray

1 dirty diaper

3 fast food bags

6 fast food napkins

7 plastic water bottles

1 plastic sinus rinse bottle

1 2 liter empty bottle of soda

3 old dog toys

In addition other people’s treasures, he’s also quite fond of the Villalpando recycling bin. We’ve quit buying him dog toys because the empty milk jug and paper towel rolls are so much more fun for him and don’t cost us anything.

Once he’s had his way with the recycleables, we just sweep up the mess and recycle the bits. It’s amazing how much more we can fit in the recycling bin once Chewie has compacted it.

Now if only we could train him to sweep up and put everything back in the recycling bin.

Austin has third-highest rate of pet ownership in U.S., survey says

Austin has the third-highest percentage of households with pets out of major United States metro areas, according to new data from the American Housing Survey.

MARY HUBER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

According to the survey results, 48.4 percent of households have pets in the average American metro area. However, Tucson, Ariz. had the highest rate of pet ownership, with close to 60 percent of households with at least one pet. Oklahoma City was second, and Austin was third, with just over 50 percent of households containing pets. Other Texas cities on the list included San Antonio at No. 4 and Houston at No. 13.

Where are the Animal Companions?

Pets of the Week: Adopt these cats and dogs from Texas Humane Heroes

If you’re looking for a new furry friend, these are the Pets of the Week from Texas Humane Heroes in Leander. You can visit their website to search for more available pets and learn more about the Pets of the Week, or visit their facilities in Leander and Killeen.

Martin

Martin is a two-year-old mixed breed dog.

Weckle

Weckle is a one-year-old hound mix.

Brandon

Lana

Lana is a small mixed-breed one-year-old dog.

Pumpkin Pie

SXSW is going to the dogs, and it is awesome

Celebrity pets are not new to South by Southwest and its side party scene, but we’ve noticed an uptick in the number of internet-famous dogs coming to Austin this year. Our own TV star, Kaxan, is part of the star power at a party Monday night at the Pet Rescue Lounge, which also will feature Moshow the cat rapper (with Ravioli) and a meet-and-greet with Manny the Frenchie.

Austin dog about town Kaxan is ready for SXSW. Photo by Edward Flores /Contributed

Kaxan, who is the official news dog at KXAN and works as therapy dog through Divine Canines, has the right outfit for every event, social or weather. He gave us a sneak peek at his SXSW week looks. See the full gallery.

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You can still RSVP for tonight’s free Pet Rescue Lounge. Pets (on leash) are welcome, too (don’t forget poop bags). There will be puppies and kittens up for adoption through the Austin Human Society and Texas Humane Heroes, fortune-telling from Kuro the clairvoyant Pomeranian, some freestylin’ by Moshow and Ravioli, a doggy ball pit and more. The event is 21 and older and RSVP does not guarantee entry. Sponsors include Pet Cube, which on Monday announced an update to its app that allows Facebook Live; Whistle, which makes GPS trackers for dogs; Luup, a litter box tray system; and DogVacay, a site for finding a pet sitter.  The festivities start at 5 p.m. at Cedar Street Courtyard.

SEE: More dogs at SXSW; we have photos from the weekend’s pop-up dog park on Congress.

 

Pets of the Week: Check out these adoptable animals from Texas Humane Heroes

If you’re looking for a new furry friend, these are the Pets of the Week from Texas Humane Heroes in Leander. You can visit their website to search for more available pets and learn more about the Pets of the Week, or visit their facilities in Leander and Killeen.

Captain

Captain is a 1-year-old black domestic medium hair cat available at THH in Leander.
Captain is a 1-year-old black domestic medium hair cat available at THH in Leander.

Jackson

Jackson is a 1-year-old mixed-breed dog available in Leander.
Jackson is a 1-year-old mixed-breed dog available in Leander.

Pixel

Pixel is a 4-year-old domestic shorthair available at Texas Humane Heroes in Killeen.
Pixel is a 4-year-old domestic shorthair available at Texas Humane Heroes in Killeen.

 

Vinci

Vinci is a 2-year-old labrador retriever mix available in Leander.
Vinci is a 2-year-old labrador retriever mix available in Leander.

Finn

Finn is a 2-year-old mixed breed dog available in Leander.
Finn is a 2-year-old mixed breed dog available in Leander.

Pets of the Week: Adopt these cats and dogs from Texas Humane Heroes

If you’re looking for a new furry friend, these are the Pets of the Week from Texas Humane Heroes in Leander. You can visit their website to search for more available pets and learn more about the Pets of the Week, or visit their facilities in Leander and Killeen.

Duke

duke
Duke is 2 years and 10 months old. He’s a housetrained domestic shorthair.

Kai

Hey ladies, it’s me, Kai. I’m a big, strong young man who is looking for my forever love. I’m a fit guy who likes to stay active and would enjoy a partner who is into health, as well. I like spending my days hanging out with lots of human friends, but I’ll always come to you doll. Need a little fun in your life? Well look no further, Kai is here.”

kai
Kai, an American Staffords Terrior, is 1 year and 6 months old. He’s partially housetrained.

Marla

“Hi, I’m Marla. I’m a shy, reserved gal waiting for a calm home to blossom in. I am very sweet one-on-one with adults but I get scared and overwhelmed around younger humans. If we take things slow, I know we can bond and be best friends!”

Marla, just over 11 months old, is a hound mix.
Marla, just over 11 months old, is a hound mix.

Stephanie

Stephanie is a 1-year-old terrier mix.
Stephanie is a 1-year-old terrier mix.

Axel

axel

WATCH: Learn how to interact with a service dog with help from Dodson, a puppy-in-training

Dodson is a puppy-in-training with Guide Dogs for the Blind. Contributed by Chloe Gonzales
Dodson is a puppy-in-training with Guide Dogs for the Blind. Contributed by Chloe Gonzales

Do you know how to act around a service dog? Austin360 team member Chloe Gonzales is a volunteer with Guide Dogs for the Blind, and she brought Dodson, her current service-dog-in-training, to our HQ Wednesday. She discussed the do’s and don’t’s for interacting with a person and a service dog and answer questions about getting involved in training. Watch the video below.

Austin dog Brie finishes second in Sporting Group at Westminster, Houston dog takes third

So close! Austin dog Whiskeytown Dalwhinnie Brie finished second (!) in the Sporting Group on Tuesday night at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Brie, a 4-year-old Wiredhaired Pointing Griffin who won best in breed for the second year in a row, was bested by an Irish Setter named Adrian. Another Texas dog, Golden Retriever Elphaba out of Houston, was a crowd favorite and got what sounded through the TV like the biggest cheers for the group. She came in third. Great showing Brie and Elphaba!

Brie, a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, won best in breed for the second year in a row at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Contributed by Debbie Elliott
Brie, a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, won best in breed for the second year in a row at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Contributed by Debbie Elliott

Austin dog wins best in breed, competes tonight at Westminster

Austin’s own Whiskeytown Dalwhinnie Brie — just Brie when not competing — won best in breed on Monday night in the Wiredhaired Pointing Griffin competition at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The 4-year-old, who won her breed last year, too, will be back in the ring Tuesday night for the Sporting Group at Madison Square Garden. If she wins that, it’s on to Best in Show. Owners Donna and Gino Troy of Austin are there to cheer on Brie, along with Donna’s sister, Debbie Elliott, who tipped us to the victory and shared a photo. Go, Brie!

The competition airs on FS1 starting at 7 p.m.

Brie, a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, won best in breed for the second year in a row at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Contributed by Debbie Elliott
Brie, a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, won best in breed for the second year in a row at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Monday. Contributed by Debbie Elliott