After Harvey, dogs find temporary homes in Austin

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Photo Credit: Ashley Nava | Daily Texan Staff

Austin Pets Alive (APA) facilities grew overwhelmed when Hurricane Harvey not only brought floods of rain to Texas, but also floods of vagrant pets to Austin in late August. 

Laura Nagy, linguistics and speech pathology senior, took a friend home after volunteering with APA that weekend — a one-year old pitbull terrier named Kendrick.

“He’s impossible not to love,” Nagy said. “He wants to lay on you. He wants to be right next to you.”

Kendrick is among the one thousand animals available for temporary foster care in the aftermath of Harvey. Mary Heerwald, APA director of marketing and communications, said people opening their homes provided room for the animals and relief for APA to find additional space — even if it was only for a weekend visit. 

“When this crisis first began, there was urgency around creating space,”  Heerwald said. “We normally ask people to take animals all the way to adoption.” 

Kendrick has lived with Nagy for over a month. He appears to feel at home with his eviscerated stuffed triceratops and occasionally sticks his head in the dishwasher out of curiosity. Nagy said she loved caring for him, even if she could not permanently adopt him. 

“Since I was a child, everything I wanted in the world was a dog,” Nagy said. “When I couldn’t have a dog with me in college, I needed to somehow get my animal fix.”

APA’s short-term fostering program helped fulfill such longings, Nagy said. As an APA volunteer herself, Nagy said the program was important in keeping with the organization’s mission of saving pets from euthanasia. 

“If you have the resources to take care of them — which clearly Austin Pets Alive has figured out how to do — and the city of Austin has as a no-kill city, then there’s a way to do it and a way to make it effective,” Nagy said. “Population control is something we need to get better at, but killing dogs is not the way to do it.”

Nagy described fostering Kendrick as small relief for a big problem since APA receives dogs daily. She said volunteering can be emotionally taxing at times when the amount of help the animals need begins to feel insurmountable. 

“We actively love these dogs,” Nagy said. “Compassion fatigue is a very real thing at the shelter, where you’re trying to give so much and put so much in a problem that’s not coming to an end.”

Finance senior Kishen Mandalay recently donated to APA and said although he cannot adopt a dog himself, he hopes more of them find homes instead of shelter kennels.

“I think it’s very noble and important (APA) helps these dogs quickly find a home,” Mandalay said.

Kendrick recently found a permanent owner and new home, which Nagy described as love at first sight between the pitbull terrier and the new owner. 

Nagy said understanding the amount of commitment it takes to care for an animal makes it easier to give away Kendrick. 

“As sad as it is to have to see him go, I know he is going to a good place,” Nagy said. “I’m not settled down. I don’t know where I’m going to be after college. But (the new owner) seems committed for the long haul, understands the responsibility of having a dog, and will make sure Kendrick is taken cared of for the rest of his life.”