Today, I said goodbye to Samson, the dog who is the reason why Austin Lost and Found Pets exists to begin with. He was an escape artist, and loved freedom and the open road as much as he loved me. He was 17-1/2, and I would’ve gladly taken another 17-1/2 or more with him if I could.
© Stephanie Martens.
© Stephanie Martens.
We grew up together. He was with me for most of my twenties and all of my thirties. This past Friday was my fortieth birthday. Not many people are blessed with a pet with such longevity. I got lucky. I know.
Today was hard, but it was also good. He slept in my bed again last night, and it was much easier than the night before. He woke me up a few times. I took him into the kitchen to drink water, change his diaper and give him a snack, then we slept again for a few hours each time. I woke up this morning well rested.
© Stephanie Martens.
I took him outside and held him up so he could mark the spot he always marked first in my neighbor’s front yard on every walk, then we hit our yard to make sure that was covered, too. Lots of sniffing. Good stuff.
I bought him a T-bone and cooked it. I cut off the meat so it could cool quickly, and he went straight for the bone before eating the rest. He ate some shrimp tails, too. Surf and turf!
© Stephanie Martens.
We got into bed and I held him one last time. He fell asleep in my arms, legs twitching as he chased something in his dreams, I’d imagine. The alarm went off. It was time to go. I wanted a little bit more time, but knew there would never be enough.
I loaded a dog bed into the car, put him in it and made sure to bring what little was left of the bone he hadn’t finished. I rolled the windows down and he really seemed to enjoy it. He nibbled on that bone right up until his last moments. He never lost his appetite for the finer things, which is fitting, as he’s one of the finest souls I’ve ever encountered.
I cried a lot more than I expected once he was actually gone. I thought I was as ready as I could be, and I probably was. I’m pretty sure I could hear the vet crying in the other room, too. It took me longer than I thought it would to collect myself, but I did.
Saying goodbye to my best friend on my own terms, knowing I did more to take care of him over the past year and a half than many people would have, was a small consolation.
Knowing that continuing to take care of him in his discomfort instead of letting him go would have been selfish at some point was a big motivation. This was easily the hardest decision I’ve ever made. Having my best friend’s life in my hands was brutal. But I think I made the most compassionate choice I could have for him under the circumstances.
© Stephanie Martens.
Because of my love for him and his unquenchable love of world exploration, thousands of animals have been reunited with their families and countless lives have been saved through Austin Lost and Found Pets. He definitely left his mark (pun intended) on the world.
Rest in Peace, Samson.
I’ll always love you.
What a good boy.
“Everyone thinks they have the best dog in the world, and none of them are wrong.” ?
Story and photos © Stephanie Martens.
Founded in 2012, Austin Lost and Found Pets is now the primary resource for reuniting lost and found pets with their families in Austin and the surrounding areas. We work day and night assisting members of the community who have lost or found pets to successfully get them home to safety. Although we started out as a Facebook group, we have grown into so much more over the years.
In addition to guiding members through all of the steps necessary to locate a pet or its family, which often results in almost instant resolutions, we also provide services through the AL&FP Street Team.
Losing a pet can be an incredibly frightening, lonely, anxiety-filled experience – and it can be practically impossible to do it all by yourself. But, thanks to AL&FP Street Team, you don’t have to do it all alone anymore.
Our street team goes out to physically search for missing pets – so if you’re out of town, at work or trying to cover a large area alone, if you ask us for help, we will be out there with you, helping you cover far more area than you ever could by yourself or with just a few friends or family members assisting in your search.
In addition to physically searching for your pet, our street team creates flyers and signs, hands them out and puts them up in the area where your pet was lost, then takes them down once the missing animal has been found.
If a member spots a loose dog, an injured cat or a feral cat with kittens, our street team will go out to try to catch them safely and efficiently, often arriving and rescuing the animal(s) before Animal Control can arrive, which sometimes can take as many as three days. We have experienced trappers on our team, as well as humane traps, to aid in capturing even the most elusive cats and dogs.
If you have found a pet, but can’t make it to a vet clinic to get it scanned for a microchip, we can come to you. If the microchip isn’t registered, we have found that we can track down the owner, even when vet clinics and shelters can’t.
When a deceased animal is spotted, we try our best to get a team member there to scan for a microchip and take the pet to the Austin Animal Center for storage before Austin Resource Recovery arrives and takes the animal to the dump without scanning it, so that the family has closure and an opportunity to properly grieve.
At the beginning of this year, Austin Animal Center asked to partner with us and requested that we become a nonprofit. We acted immediately, and filed for 501(c)3 status the next week, however becoming a nonprofit isn’t free – it actually takes A LOT of money. We took out a loan to satisfy their request, but we have to pay that back – and we still owe thousands of dollars.
We’re very excited about the opportunity ahead of us to grow and expand our services. But first, we need staff and an office to keep our organization running smoothly, as well as funds for supplies such as a color copier, microchip scanners, crates, humane traps, dog/cat/bird food and money for properly vetting the animals we find.
We’re officially launching our foster program soon, and plan to open a Found Animal Shelter in the future in order to give found animals more time to be reunited with their families and to keep found pets out of the city shelter so that the wait for owner surrenders will no longer be two to three weeks at Austin Animal Center, as is currently the case.
We are pleased and proud to have kept literally thousands of animals out of the shelter over the past four years and to have reunited countless families in our community, and we look forward to being able to save far more pets and mend even more broken hearts than ever before.
Please make a tax deductible donation today. Your continued support and your incredibly valuable participation in our growing organization is so appreciated by the animals – and their people – in our wonderful community.
Austin Lost and Found Pets is so grateful for each and every one of you. ♡
Back in 2012, I started a little Facebook group to help me get my dog Samson home if he ever got out again. Ever since, this little area of Facebook where I or anyone else can post to for help finding a lost pet, or for help finding a lost pet’s owner, has grown into something so much bigger.
As of today, Austin Lost and Found Pets is now the primary resource for reuniting missing pets with their families in Austin and the surrounding areas — and an official partner of the Austin.com network. And what an amazing journey it has been!
Losing a pet can be one of the most emotionally exhausting experiences in the world. Beyond providing a forum with a large following to help people that have lost or found pets network socially, we offer hands-on guidance, expert advice, emotional support, and physical assistance searching.
Our street team regularly helps people search for their missing pets, hands out flyers, puts up (and takes down) signs, and traps hard-to-catch animals, often arriving before animal control does. Our team also offers microchip scanning services to people who have found pets but cannot drop by a veterinary clinic, PetsMart, or Austin Animal Center (AAC) to get them scanned. We can even track down the owners of pets with chips that are unregistered or out of date. Our team also scans deceased pets and takes them to AAC so that they are not taken to the dump, in order to give their families an opportunity for closure.
Due to our overwhelming success, AAC partnered with us in January and requested that we become a nonprofit organization, which we did right away. I never planned to become an authority on what to do when a pet is lost or found; it just happened over the four years that I’ve been doing this.
The process of building our group has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever experienced. Although I was the first recipient of the Austin Life Saver Award in July, the real reward for me is the feeling I get when someone’s missing pet makes it home safely.
So far, Austin Lost and Found Pets has kept thousands of animals out of the shelter, which quite literally has saved thousands of animals’ lives, helping AAC continue as the largest no-kill shelter in the U.S. In the process, we have mended thousands of broken hearts.
We are incredibly excited about working with Austin.com to help us spread the word about missing animals, educate the public and continue expanding our network and services. None of our success would be possible without the amazing community we have built together, and I encourage you to join our Facebook group and become a part of our network of animal lovers today.
Featured photo: Wikimedia Commons.
This weekend the Austin Animal Center is trying to find forever homes for more than 200 felines. There are currently around 800 cats in the Center’s care, with approximately 250 ready for adoption (the remainder are either under medical care or are in foster homes). Because they’re basically overflowing with cats, the Center has waived adoption fees until July 4, which means they’re giving away free kitties!!!!
Just head down to the Austin Animal Center at 7201 Levander Loop this weekend, and find your new friend. Not ready to bring home a new companion, just yet? You can still make a difference in the lives of animals by volunteering or donating!
The joys of cat parenthood are basically never-ending, so we thought we’d wrangle a few of our favorite kitteh memes to get you all set for your journey into the land of furballs. Enjoy!
When you’re cleaning up hairballs at 3 a.m. just remember, it could be worse — you could be a dog person.
Sure, having a pet can get pretty pricey, but with a little extra training you can have them paying their own way.
Hell, they even make their own toys. Even better!
Plus, where else could you possibly find such wonderful gestures of affection?
Who else can provide hours and hours of useless entertainment like a cat?
They’ll totally get into the same pop culture stuff that you love, just to spend more time with you.
They’ll sing all of your favorite songs. Or just the ones that will annoy you to death and get stuck in your head.
They’ll help you figure out your life goals and how to best achieve them.
And on those days when getting out of bed just isn’t an option, they’ll be there with you, giving you cuddles and throwing the rest of the world shade alongside you. They’ll be there to make you laugh (and possibly even Internet famous).And the cuteness just basically never quits…
Just take good care of them.
And they’ll do the same for you.
Give them lots of love…
And they’ll give you plenty in return…
Because, why? KITTIES! (Duh.)
Yesterday the Austin Fire Department dealt with a somewhat unusual situation with results that probably shouldn’t surprise any Austinite. After sustaining an injury in an auto accident, a man’s dog ran away from the scene, and like any proper dog-loving Austinite, the man quickly followed.
Here’s how it all went down, as relayed on the AFD Facebook page:
Yesterday afternoon, Engine 1 and Engine 6 on the B shift were sent to a collision at Barton Springs and Riverside. As they arrive, our crews are told that the driver of the truck involved, and who was injured, had left the scene in pursuit of his dog who escaped the truck and left at a high rate of speed. Another bystander then tells Engine 1 that the owner/patient is now a couple blocks away, and the dog has been hit by a car with some pretty serious-sounding injuries.
Engine 1 finds both in a parking lot–the dog suffering some rather messy head/face lacerations, and the owner, although needing care and evaluation, being uncooperative since his attention was focused on the dog. Engine 1 was able to gain the owner’s trust by assuring him that they would look after the dog so he could be transported.
Our crews dressed the dog’s wounds, located a nearby emergency vet clinic, and transported the dog in the engine the several blocks there. The owner was contacted by our crew, who told him where the animal would be, as well as his condition, made sure all parties were okay with the arrangement, and passed the owner’s information on to the vet’s office.
We’re happy to report that the dog and his owner are both expected to make full recoveries. Just another example of the kind of commitment and dedication to service you see every day from the awesome men and women of the Austin Fire Department!
In Austin, this scenario probably isn’t all that strange considering how much we love our dogs. Many of us wouldn’t hesitate for a second to run after a hurt fur baby, consequences be damned. Many of the commenters relayed that they would react exactly as this man had, saying that their pet’s health and safety would come first.
The post drew plenty of praise for AFD from Facebook fans, and there appeared to be no criticism of anyone involved — dog rescue stories will do that. Either that or all the trolls are hanging out under the Reddit bridge today.
Commenters called AFD heroes and rock stars, and more than one person said that it was this type of love, kindness, and compassion that makes people want to move to Austin.
It wasn’t just AFD who showed big hearts yesterday. Commenter Anna Madrigal saw the whole thing go down and mentioned that she, as well as quite a few other good samaritans, stopped to help the dog. In her comment she says:
PAWS UP TO SEVERAL CARS AND GOOD SAMARITANS WHO STOPPED TO HELP THIS DOG! There were at least 10 ppl already gathered where the dog had been hit.Someone was holding on to his leash, comforting him and keeping him from running off again, while another was trying to stop the bleeding. I saw the owner RUN across the parking lots and streets to get to his dog. Several were already discussing where the nearest vet was right as the Austin Fire Department came to the rescue. Great news.
Nice work all around, Austin. Paws up, indeed.
Featured photo of Lieutenant Jim Baker dressing dog’s wounds courtesy of AFD Facebook page
Our friends at Critter Ridder lined up some of Austin’s frightening creatures who actually provide some benefits to homeowners. Did you know these scary animals can sometimes help more than they can hurt?
Mexican Free-tailed Bat
The Mexican Free-Tailed Bat is the creature we so proudly house under the Congress Avenue bridge. Up close, they might have frightening faces, but these honorary Austinites are friendly and helpful.
Summertime is their prime season here in Austin, and they’ve got a diet that consists mostly of mosquitoes and other bothersome insects. That means that for every bat in Austin, there are fewer bloodsucking bugs to ruin our fun outdoors.
The largest concern with bat-to-human contact is the potential of rabies spreading. However, even if a bat is infected with rabies, one of the earliest symptoms is paralysis. This would prevent the bat from attacking you directly. That said, if you find a bat which is lying still, it is probably best to leave it alone, or call an expert to remove it instead of trying to save it yourself.
They’re also a great boost to our tourism economy. Bat Conservation International estimates that over 100,000 visitors come to Austin to see the Congress Avenue bridge bats every year! This brings in somewhere around $10 million annually – a huge number for such little animals.
Texas Rat Snake
Austin is home to a great number of snake species. Though there are a few species you should definitely avoid, the Texas Rat Snake is actually a somewhat harmless creature.
As opposed to Rattlesnakes, Copperheads, and Coral snakes, the Rat Snake is not venomous. As its name suggests, its diet mostly consists of rats and other small rodents. It is possible for the Rat Snake to bite humans and pets, but must typically be provoked before deciding to attack.
Rat Snakes play a large part in keeping the annoying rodent population low. In fact, due to their diet and habits, the Texas Rat Snake might be more of a pest controller than a pest!
Palomino Blonde Tarantula
Spiders might be the most universally feared creature in the United States. Austin’s warm climate provides a good environment for several spider species, including large tarantulas. But most tarantulas, including the Palomino Blonde, are docile, slow-moving, and non-threatening to humans.
This tarantula’s diet is mostly insects that are troublesome to humans, including flies, crickets, and mosquitoes. Try not to kill tarantulas if you can – they might keep your house free of other, more annoying insects!
You may have heard about the dangers of tarantula bites. Tarantula venom is designed mostly for use in digestion, similar to human stomach fluids. So, while a tarantula could potentially bite you if provoked, the bite would not kill, even if venom is injected.
Not all Austin wildlife is dangerous, no matter how scary it may appear! Of course, we understand if you don’t actually want these scary-looking critters in your home. That’s why we recommend that any pests in your home or yard are removed in a humane manner.
All images were resized for web use, and cropped so as not to remove any significant content.