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Baytown

We have a no-kill mission to save the lives of homeless cats and dogs abandoned and/or placed in kill shelters, while also providing life-saving programs and services to keep pets and their people together. Through outreach, education and service, we provide cats and dogs with an opportunity to live their full lives. 

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Blog

"Pursuing No Kill" is our active blog that highlights the work that we do as we continue to live out our no-kill mission to save the lives of homeless pets within our community! 

Friends and Artists Behind the Logo

Jay Garrett

Every dog and cat deserves an opportunity to live a full life.

It’s a simple statement that is at the heart of A Life to Live. And if you look closely, you will see that mission displayed in our logo.

From a playful puppy to an adult dog; from an energetic kitten to a mature cat — we work every day to help as many animals as possible realize that right.

The story of how our logo was conceived is one of friendship and artistic collaboration.

Jay Garrett Jr., founder and executive director of A Life to Live, was childhood friends with Chris Castaneda. They were next door neighbors throughout elementary and junior high school.

Chris and Jay, best friends throughout elementary and junior high school, at a birthday party.

Chris and Jay, best friends throughout elementary and junior high school, at a birthday party.

“Growing up, we taught each other how to draw,” Jay said. “Chris was the cartoonist and I was the artist who excelled in realism. He taught me about creativity and imagination, while I taught him about detail and drawing a mirror image of what you see in front of you.”

A comic drawn by Chris and Jay. 

A comic drawn by Chris and Jay. 

They did everything from whittling chess pieces to creating custom Pokémon trading cards. They loved video games, and would play through the night into the next morning without sleeping.

Chris moved to Crosby in high school, while Jay remained in Baytown. The pair lost touch at that time, but they reconnected in college.

When Jay founded A Life to Live in 2014 and began to design the logo on a sketching program on his iPad, he knew that his friend, Chris, was just the guy to help turn that original sketch to life. Chris studied graphic design and digital media in college.

Original logo sketch by Jay Garrett Jr., founder and executive director of A Life to Live. 

Original logo sketch by Jay Garrett Jr., founder and executive director of A Life to Live. 

“He took what I drew and threw it on the computer. We spent hours critiquing each animal figure, ensuring that they were as realistic as possible,” Jay said. “The final result is a perfect combination of both of our skills and our combined love for animals and art.”

Conceptualizing the sketch and converting it to a digital graphic design. 

Conceptualizing the sketch and converting it to a digital graphic design. 

There is a dog with three legs playing with a ball, representing Laney, the first animal A Life to Live ever saved. She had internal parasites and ringworm, and she was malnourished. Worst of all, she had an injured leg that needed to be amputated. We made sure she got the help she needed, and she has gone on to enjoy a full, healthy life.

The adult cat with a tipped ear signifies that the animal was spayed or neutered. Our Good Felines program works with feral cats in the community to humanely and effectively limit their reproduction through trap-neuter-return and shelter-neuter-return.

From the young kitten playing with a ball of yarn to the adult dog enjoying his senior years, A Life to Live aims to save the lives of all animals abandoned or placed in kill shelters — young or old, big or small, healthy or in need of medical attention.

Final logo, concluded through hours of manipulation and critique between the two artists. 

Final logo, concluded through hours of manipulation and critique between the two artists. 

Despite their hectic work and family lives, Jay and Chris remain friends. Jay served as a groomsman in Chris’ wedding, and Chris and his wife were fosters to help save several kittens in our program.

While they don’t see each other as often these days, they continue to treasure their special bond that helped to create the living embodiment of A Life to Live’s mission.

Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator.

 

 

 

 

From Houston's Streets to a Forever Home

Jay Garrett

It’s a Facebook post that is all too common.

You see a photo of a sad-looking dog that had been wandering aimlessly in a neighborhood until one of your online friends takes him in. Now that person is reaching out for help to find the owner or someone who is willing to provide a home for the stray.

Chief in transport to the O'Banion's. 

Chief in transport to the O'Banion's. 

Fortunately for Chief, Amy O’Banion is a boxer lover. So when she saw a plea in early 2016 about the 3-year-old that was picked up while roaming the streets in Houston, she conferred with her husband, Cliff, and the decision to foster was easy.

Amy and Chief.

Amy and Chief.

The O’Banions were volunteers with A Life to Live, and we agreed to enter Chief into our foster program.

Cliff and Chief.

Cliff and Chief.

Through our network of volunteers who open their hearts and homes to help save the lives of pets like Chief, the animals receive shelter, food, water and care until they are adopted.

“He was pretty skinny and had bad skin,” recalled Amy, who lives in Kemah. “We took him to the vet and found out he was heartworm positive, so A Life to Live started him on treatment and got him all the other vet care that he needed.”

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In addition to providing Chief the love that he deserved, they also placed him on a nutritious diet plan to help “fatten him up.”

It wasn’t long before Chief’s forever family appeared. James Young and his wife, Suzanne, who already owned two boxers, stepped up to adopt a third.

One of the first things that the Youngs did was consider a new name, since they previously owned a Chief.

“We tried a few different names, but nothing seemed to fit. The thing we kept saying about him was how he looks like a jumping bean the way he bounces up and down when he’s excited. This somehow mixed with a friend saying he looks like a flash of brown when he runs by you. So we christened him Jumping Jack Flash, or Jack for short,” James explained.

Jack made himself right at home with his new family in Humble, including his fur siblings that the Youngs had also rescued: Violet, an 8-year-old brindle Boxer, and Riggy, a 3-year-old white Boxer.

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One of Jack’s favorite games is tug of war with Violet. “We have dozens of ripped-up, stuffing-less toys as proof,” James said.

Jack also enjoys playing tag with Riggy. “Those two have created a race course throughout our house and yard, which has them exhausted by game’s end.”

All of that running and playing lends itself well to Jack’s other favorite pastime, which is lounging on the Youngs’ couch or ottoman. “When he drifts off to sleep, that boy snores so loud that he either runs us out of the room or has us scrambling for earbuds and headphones,” James said.

With no children in their home, the Youngs focus all of their love and attention on their boxers. And although Violet and Riggy have lived there longer, there’s no question that Jack is now an integral member of their family.

James and Suzanne Young with "Jack" on the day they adopted him into the family. 

James and Suzanne Young with "Jack" on the day they adopted him into the family. 

“He fits in so perfectly. It’s as if he’s always been here,” James said. “We couldn’t be happier with this little guy. We’re ever so grateful to A Life to Live for bringing him into our lives.”

Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator.

Sweet Support from Glaze Baking Company

Jay Garrett

Because A Life to Live is a non-profit organization, we count on the generous nature of people in Baytown and surrounding communities to help support our efforts.

Glaze Baking Company and its customers are among those who contribute to our cause. A donation container sits at the front desk of the bakery, located at 2803 N. Alexander.

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“Since we started doing it, the response has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Joni Glaze, who opened the business in January. “A lot of people are reading about the plight of animals in Baytown and overall, so they are really willing to donate their spare dollars and change. And I don’t take tips. I put them right in there.”

The bakery specializes in baked goods, cakes and desserts, but also serves breakfast and lunch items. Cheesecakes are Joni’s signature item.

At home, Joni and her husband, Clint, enjoy the company of several pit bull rescues and a rescue cat.

“At any given time, we have a myriad of cats,” Joni said. “We’ve also had squirrels, snakes, a ferret that I recently rehomed, and all kinds of things.”

On Saturdays, you will find customers who bring their dogs to the bakery. “We’re very dog friendly,” added Joni, who is fully behind the goal of Baytown becoming a no-kill community.

A Life to Live is always looking for local partners to host one of our donation containers at their business. If you’re able to help out like Joni, please let us know at support@adopttosave.org.

Learn more about Glaze Baking Company on Facebook.

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Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator.

 

 

 

More of Everything at PetSmart Event

Jay Garrett

A Life to Live’s monthly microchip and adoption event at PetSmart in Baytown had a little different flavor to it on Sunday, Sept. 24. “More” was the word of the day.

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While we typically offer 100 microchips at these events, with the first 10 being free, this time we had 200 free microchips available. That was thanks to Found Animals and Chevron Phillips Chemical.

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Spay-Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP) was on hand to provide free wellness care to pets whose owners were impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Services included vaccines, deworming and flea prevention.

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We had two vehicles packed with free pet food from our food bank to provide to pet owners in need. And as always, adoptable cats and dogs were putting their best paws forward in hopes of finding their forever homes.

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When the long day was done, there was no question that the event was a smashing success as:

  • More than 125 pets had microchips administered and registered.
  • Free vaccines and products were provided to residents with verification of FEMA assistance.
  • Bags and cans of pet food were distributed to owners for their hungry pets.
  • Three of our foster pets were adopted, as were 20 animals from City of Baytown Animal Services, which had its mobile unit on site.
  • Chevron Phillips Chemical volunteers kept everyone cool by handing out cold water.

For 84-year-old Bill Bagwell, getting his dog, Paint, micro-chipped was worth the trip from his Highlands home.

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“He goes with me just about everywhere, and he usually knows the way home. But I don’t want to take the chance if he ever gets away. If he gets lost out on the road somewhere, this way he can come back to me,” said Bill, who rescued the stray Australian Cattle Dog about seven years ago.

Gabriel Lee of Baytown also wanted that sense of security for his family and their two small dogs, Mimi and Gabriella.

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“They’re part of our family,” Gabriel said of his Teacup Chihuahua and Labrador Retriever-Pit Bull mix. “If we should ever lose them, our daughter especially would be heartbroken.”

A Life to Live holds adoption and microchip events throughout the year. Check our calendar for future events.

Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator.

 

The Fruition of a No-Kill Future

Jay Garrett

When City Council passed a resolution on Sept. 14 that committed Baytown to becoming a no-kill city by 2025, it marked a major turning point for homeless animals in our community.

The unanimous vote by council members means that by 2025, the city plans to ensure that 90 percent or more of all healthy adoptable animals entering its animal control facility will be saved. Further, the city supports implementing programs and policies to become a no-kill facility by increasing live outcomes and decreasing euthanasia.

“The passage of this resolution allows us to plant a stake in the ground, placing Baytown alongside some of the most progressive communities in the country that are working toward the same life-saving goals,” said Jay Garrett Jr., founder and executive director of A Life to Live.

A Life to Live leaders, volunteers and supporters gather for a photo on Sept. 14, 2017 following the unanimous passing of the no-kill resolution. 

A Life to Live leaders, volunteers and supporters gather for a photo on Sept. 14, 2017 following the unanimous passing of the no-kill resolution. 

A Life to Live, a non-profit organization with a no-kill mission, initiated the push for a local no-kill resolution with full support from City Council member Robert Hoskins.

While the goal for achieving no-kill is 2025, the work needed to reach that status is already underway. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, A Life to Live volunteers worked with city staff and other partners to reach and maintain a live release rate that exceeded 90 percent.

“Continuing this level of life-saving success requires a community-wide effort involving all pet lovers, through volunteering, fostering, adopting and donating,” Garrett said.

A Life to Live has taken a multi-faceted approach in working toward no-kill. Efforts have included the following:

  • Reuniting people with displaced pets at Baytown Animal Shelter and in the community.
  • Providing pet food and supplies to help keep people and their pets together.
  • Assisting with adoptions at the shelter and through large-scale adoption events.
  • Recruiting new foster families to rescue pets from the shelter.
  • Expanding our roster of rescue partners and transporting pets to reputable organizations within a 200-mile radius of Baytown.
  • Working with veterinarian partners to provide low-cost and free services to shelter, rescued and owned pets.

“This work must continue to grow so that we can reach more people and save more pets,” Garrett said.

A Life to Live hopes to implement several nationally recognized life-saving programs in partnership with the City of Baytown. Included is our Good Felines program, which serves the community cat population by humanely and effectively limiting the reproduction of cats through trap-neuter-return and shelter-neuter-return. Another program is PASS (Positive Alternatives to Shelter Surrender), which has been proven to decrease shelter intake and increase live release outcomes.

“These are no-kill programs that we are actively working toward, but they take time, people, funds and resources to implement,” Garrett said.

A Life to Live also is reviewing city ordinances and comparing them to those within no-kill communities, like the City of Austin.

We recently presented No-Kill Baytown T-shirts to Baytown Mayor Stephen DonCarlos and City Council member Robert Hoskins. It recognizes their support for the council’s passage of a resolution that commits the city to becoming no-kill by 2025. Since that occurred, A Life to Live has been hard at work on next steps to achieve no-kill status.

We recently presented No-Kill Baytown T-shirts to Baytown Mayor Stephen DonCarlos and City Council member Robert Hoskins. It recognizes their support for the council’s passage of a resolution that commits the city to becoming no-kill by 2025. Since that occurred, A Life to Live has been hard at work on next steps to achieve no-kill status.

“To make lasting change and create a true no-kill community, our local laws need to reflect our stance on life and the protection of animals within our community,” Garrett said. “The laws should reflect both the protection of people and pets, encouraging the public to be responsible pet owners and requiring the city to practice responsible, safe and compassionate care and handling of pets within their care.”

Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator.

 

Texas Sass Shows its Love for Animals

Jay Garrett

As Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts continue, so do acts of kindness. Among those who have gone above and beyond to help others are Kristin Mainor and her mother, Paula Thomas.

Together, they run Texas Sass, a local small business that specializes in embroidery and vinyl on just about anything. They monogram bags, shirts, hats, you name it.

“At least once a year, we like to raise money for organizations through the sale of our products,” Kristin said.

After raising $300 for Mont Belvieu Police Department in 2016 by selling specially made “All Lives Matter” headbands, Texas Sass chose A Life to Live to support this year.

They recently presented us with a check for $525. They raised the funds by selling T-shirts featuring the words, “You are with me even in deep waters,” highlighted on the State of Texas.

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“When we saw on the news how many animals were being left behind following all the flooding, it made me want to help animals in need,” Kristin said. “I wanted to do this for A Life to Live because of its no-kill mission. I am crazy about animals, and I feel that A Life to Live loves them as much as I do.”

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We appreciate Kristin and her mom going the extra mile to show their support for homeless pets in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Their generous donation will help us continue providing life-saving services for dogs and cats in our local community.

You can learn more about Texas Sass on Facebook.

If you would like to support A Life to Live, please consider donating at www.adopttosave.org/donate.

Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator. Photography by Preslie Cox Photography

Robin and Junior Forrest Donate Refrigerator

Jay Garrett

A Life to Live relies on the generosity of people in the community and other partners to support our life-saving work on behalf of homeless cats and dogs.

A recent example of such kindness came from Robin and Junior Forrest, who donated a full-size refrigerator for us to store important supplies to better serve the animals within our program.

Initially, A Life to Live volunteer Ellen Hollaway approached the Forrests about donating a digital signature pad for use in our adoption application process.

“They wanted to do something that would make a greater impact, so the idea of the refrigerator came up,” Ellen said. “We picked out a moderate size unit, but the store said the order wouldn’t come in for three weeks. This larger one was available, and Junior said they’d be happy to purchase it for us.”

Caring for animals is nothing new for the Forrests, who have a number of horses and cows. Robin raises Border Collies, and there are even a few cats in their barn. “I’ve always had a heart for animals,” she said.

The Forrests are active in the local business community. They own Ainsworth and Company Air Conditioning and Heating in Baytown and Junior’s Smokehouse in Highlands. Robin also operates Cherry Creek Arena in Mont Belvieu.

Robin and Junior Forrest (right), owners of Ainsworth and Company Air Conditioning and Heating, recently donated a refrigerator to A Life to Live for storing important supplies. Joining the Forrests are Jay Garrett, founder and executive director, and Magan Gonzales, co-founder and program director, of A Life to Live. Learn more about the organization at www.adopttosave.org.

Robin and Junior Forrest (right), owners of Ainsworth and Company Air Conditioning and Heating, recently donated a refrigerator to A Life to Live for storing important supplies. Joining the Forrests are Jay Garrett, founder and executive director, and Magan Gonzales, co-founder and program director, of A Life to Live. Learn more about the organization at www.adopttosave.org.

“We greatly appreciate this generous donation by Robin and Junior Forrest,” said Jay Garrett, founder and executive director of A Life to Live. “This kind of support from members of our community is what allows us to continue achieving our mission of making sure cats and dogs are able to live their full lives.”

Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator.

Chevron Phillips Chemical Donates $10,000

Jay Garrett

Chevron Phillips Chemical Company demonstrated its giving spirit in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey by making a $1 million contribution to support relief efforts in Houston and other parts of southeast Texas.

As part of that generous action, the company donated $10,000 to A Life to Live to help fund our relief efforts throughout the Baytown community.

Heather Betancourth - Chevron Phillips Chemical community relations (left), Magan Gonzales - A Life to Live cofounder and program director (middle), Jay Garrett - A Life to Live founder and executive director (right)

Heather Betancourth - Chevron Phillips Chemical community relations (left), Magan Gonzales - A Life to Live cofounder and program director (middle), Jay Garrett - A Life to Live founder and executive director (right)

“Houston and southeast Texas are where we live and work, and we are in this together," said Mark Lashier, president and CEO of Chevron Phillips Chemical. “Our heartfelt concerns and thoughts remain with everyone who has suffered unimaginable loss from this catastrophic event. We plan to work hand in hand with local officials and the community to persevere through this tragic event together and assist with ongoing relief efforts.”

A Life to Live has reached out to help local families who were impacted by the natural disaster and were separated from their pets due to flooding and evacuations.

Our team members have been working throughout the city to donate pet supplies to shelters and families in need. Items that are being donated include: kennels, bedding, litter, leashes, collars, tags, microchips (including the registration and implantation), food, treats, puppy pads, cleaning supplies, and stuffed animals to those families whose pets have passed away.

In addition to these charitable services and products, we’ve had teams set up at Baytown Animal Shelter to reunite people with their lost pets. We’re also helping organize rescue operations for animals that are available for rescue and adoption.

“It's the collaborative efforts of caring individuals and community partners like Chevron Phillips that will help rebuild Baytown. Together, we can save countless lives and reunite families,” said Jay Garrett, founder and executive director of A Life to Live.

Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator.

Alley Cat Allies Team Travels Far to Lend a Hand

Jay Garrett

During the recovery period following Hurricane Harvey, there has been an outpouring of support from communities and organizations far beyond Texas’ borders. It’s a generosity that A Life to Live and the animals that we serve got to experience firsthand.

Among those who extended a helping hand was Alley Cat Allies, a global cat advocacy organization based in Bethesda, Maryland. Not only did they provide an emergency grant of $2,500 to help us with rescue and relief supplies and veterinary fees, but they also dispatched a disaster response team to our area.

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“Alley Cat Allies has a global Feral Friends Network, with many of them in Texas and Louisiana. There are thousands of feral cat groups and caregivers as well as veterinarians who we knew would need help and supplies since Hurricane Harvey was so devastating. Our donors have also been supporting us through emergency disaster funds. When we saw what was happening after the hurricane, including the widespread flooding and devastation, we thought that we could be of help and bring in supplies from out of state,” said Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies.

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“The team we sent are cat-trapping experts and bilingual, which is important for that area. They were eager to go and did not hesitate.”

Clay Myers, Daniel Lopez Brena and Kim Kean arrived in Baytown on Sept. 3 with two vehicles full of supplies, including traps, cat carriers, leashes, cat food, kitty litter, water, blankets and towels. They also came with an eagerness to lend their expertise as we faced a challenge with community cats.

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Through our Good Felines program, we regularly work with feral cats that live outdoors in colonies. Despite what many people believe, these cats can live long, healthy and happy lives outdoors. Their populations can be humanely maintained through trap, spay/neuter, return programs that save lives, diminish the breeding cycle and build community.

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Hurricane Harvey brought more community cats than ever into the open. So on Labor Day morning, the Alley Cat Allies contingent joined a team of volunteers from A Life to Live to visit a Baytown neighborhood that sustained major flooding from nearby Cedar Bayou.

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“I have two cats and three dogs of my own, plus I’ve been feeding several other cats from the neighborhood. But after the hurricane hit, a lot more cats appeared. At one point, I counted about 15. That’s when I reached out to A Life to Live for assistance,” said Randa Faycal, who has lived in her neighborhood since 1999.

We spent several hours trapping 12 cats, which later were transported to the Spay-Neuter Assistance Program in Houston. The cats were spayed or neutered, vaccinated, ear-tipped (the universal symbol for an altered cat) and micro-chipped, all free of charge.

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After recovering the cats were returned to their outdoor homes, where they are cared for by compassionate individuals. Although, one of the cats did surprise us by giving birth to five beautiful kittens at the clinic. We found a foster home for mama and her babies, ensuring they will receive the veterinary care and socialization they need.

“Alley Cat Allies is the only global advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and improving cats’ lives. Their professional guidance for TNR and colony management has been the foundation of our growing TNR program,” said Magan Gonzales, program director for A Life to Live and founder of Good Felines.

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“We are incredibly grateful to Alley Cat Allies for teaming up with us and personally guiding us through our first large trap. Our Good Felines team has worked hard to advocate and care for cats in our community. With our friends from Alley Cat Allies, we have been able to make an even bigger impact.”

For more information on Alley Cat Allies, go to www.alleycat.org.

Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator. 

Muttnation, Others Come to the Rescue

Jay Garrett

After Hurricane Harvey completed its destructive path through the Baytown area, families slowly began to come to terms with the damage caused by the historic storm and to consider how to tackle the challenging recovery process.

For A Life to Live, an immediate priority was to save the lives of homeless cats and dogs in our community.

On Thursday, Aug. 31, our team of volunteers was hard at work at Baytown Animal Shelter. The goal: rescue all 21 available dogs and 31 cats from the shelter to make room for an anticipated flow of additional animals that would be displaced by the storm’s floodwaters.

With help from partners throughout the city, state and even Oklahoma, we did just that.

A Life to Live teamed up with City of Baytown Animal Services and MuttNation Foundation, a nonprofit organization led by singer-songwriter Miranda Lambert, to save all 52 of those animals in the shelter.

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We were notified Wednesday evening that MuttNation Foundation’s rescue and transport vehicles would stop at the shelter Thursday morning to rescue the 21 dogs that were past their stray hold dates.

Our volunteers worked with Baytown Animal Services staff and Miranda’s team to leash and load up all of the dogs for transport to a veterinary clinic in Conroe for vaccinations and health exams. From there, the MuttNation crew headed back to their home base in Tishomingo, Oklahoma.

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“MuttNation is an amazing organization. Miranda has a huge heart and a love for animals,” said Jay Garrett, founder and executive director of A Life to Live. “Baytown was just one of their team’s rescue locations in the Greater Houston area. They certainly made an impact by helping our shelters and the animals throughout our community.”

With the dogs taken care of, we turned our attention to the cats in the shelter. We were able to place 13 of them into temporary homes by recruiting new foster families in the community. Through collaboration with our partners, Houston Pets Alive and Austin Pets Alive!, we loaded up the other 18 cats and transported them to Houston where their teams coordinated travel to Austin.

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“It was a great day. We collectively saved 52 animals and freed shelter space for Hurricane Harvey victims. We couldn’t have done it without our partners, volunteers, supporters, fosters and the pet-loving public throughout our community. We thank everyone for their life-saving support,” Jay said.

As more animals impacted by Hurricane Harvey enter the shelter, A Life to Live will continue to do all it can to rescue as many as possible. An additional 14 cats and 12 dogs that were owner surrendered or had expired stray holds were transported by our volunteers into Houston on Sept. 7. This effort also was in partnership with Houston Pets Alive and Austin Pets Alive!

Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator.

Winning Combo: Pizza and Pets

Jay Garrett

Pizza and pets. They’re hard to beat.

Thanks to a collaborative effort between Papa John’s and A Life to Live, that winning combination is just a few steps away.

Through its Papa’s Pets initiative, Papa John’s is offering a free pizza to anyone who adopts a cat or dog through A Life to Live. Papa’s Pets is an effort in the Greater Houston area to raise awareness of the importance of pet adoption to save lives.

Promoting the collaboration between A Life to Live and Papa John’s are (from left) Magan Gonzales, A Life to Live co-founder and program director; Phebe Hayes, Papa John’s Baytown store manager; Adam Garza, director of marketing for Papa John’s Houston; and Preslie Cox, A Life to Live marketing coordinator and box-top flyer designer.

Promoting the collaboration between A Life to Live and Papa John’s are (from left) Magan Gonzales, A Life to Live co-founder and program director; Phebe Hayes, Papa John’s Baytown store manager; Adam Garza, director of marketing for Papa John’s Houston; and Preslie Cox, A Life to Live marketing coordinator and box-top flyer designer.

“I read something that said Houston has 1.2 million stray and abandoned animals at any given time. That number just blew me away. I had no idea it was such a huge problem. So I thought, how can we help? We wanted to get involved somehow,” said Adam Garza, director of marketing for Papa John’s Houston.

Flyers highlighting the pet adoption/pizza promotion are featured on boxes when you order a pizza through Papa John’s at 4605 Garth Road in Baytown.

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In addition to the box-toppers, Papa John’s also has offered to help share information about A Life to Live and its mission through social media, email and print advertisements.

Check out A Life to Live’s adoptable dogs and cats. If you find one you can’t live without and successfully complete the adoption process, you soon can enjoy a free Papa John’s pizza. What could be better than that?

Words by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator. Photos by Preslie Cox, marketing coordinator and owner of Preslie Cox Photography

Baytown One Vote Away From No-Kill Resolution

Jay Garrett

The City of Baytown is a step closer to ensuring that one day, no healthy adoptable dogs or cats in its municipal shelter will ever be killed again.

A resolution that would commit Baytown to becoming a no-kill city by 2025 was discussed at the Aug. 24 City Council meeting. The proposed measure will be voted on at council’s Sept. 14 meeting.

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A Life to Live has been leading the push for a no-kill Baytown. Councilman Robert Hoskins, who we worked with on the resolution, showed his full support by introducing the proposed measure at the Aug. 24 meeting.

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The goal as outlined in the resolution is that by 2025, 90 percent or more of all healthy adoptable animals entering the city’s animal control facility will be saved. Further, the resolution states that the city supports implementing programs and policies to become a no-kill facility by increasing live outcomes and decreasing euthanasia.

A coalition of animal rescue organizations is setting the national no-kill standard. Best Friends Animal Society and its network partners, including A Life to Live, are leading the effort.

“It’s time for change. It’s time for a directive that’s guided by kind hearts, compassionate arms and sound minds. It’s time for our city leaders to pronounce their opposition to euthanizing healthy and treatable pets and commit our city to a life-saving directive, one which our city and community can and will be proud of,” said Jay Garrett, founder and executive director of A Life to Live.

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Garrett was followed to the podium by three others we invited to share additional information on why achieving a no-kill Baytown is so important. The speakers were:

·      Salise Shuttlesworth, executive director of Friends for Life

·      Dr. Mary Kate Lawler, executive director of SNAP (Spay-Neuter Assistance Program)

·      Whitney Bliton, local program cities specialist for Best Friends Animal Society.

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The presentations received positive responses from Mayor Stephen DonCarlos and several City Council members.

“If council approves this resolution, it lets you know that this group of elected officials is committed to move us forward to a no-kill standard. We think it’s an admirable goal,” DonCarlos said.

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As part of the proposed directive, the city would support working with the community, rescue and animal welfare groups, and the veterinary community to implement a comprehensive plan to reach the no-kill goal by 2025. That plan would be presented to City Council no later than Dec. 31, 2018.

The resolution also states that the city would develop a Facilities and Operational Master Plan, with funding provided in the 2017-2018 annual budget to further the stated goals.

According to Best Friends Animal Society, approximately 2 million homeless dogs and cats are killed annually in America’s shelters. That means nearly 5,500 animals are killed every day.

Of the approximately 330 no-kill cities in the United States, eight Texas cities have achieved no-kill status. This is according to the national database project, Shelter Animals Count, and public websites.

On hand at the City Council meeting to show their support for the no-kill resolution was a huge contingent of A Life to Live volunteers and others from the community. We appreciate the great show of support for this vital effort to save the lives of homeless animals in Baytown.

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We hope to once again fill council chambers on Sept. 14 when the resolution will be voted on. In the meantime, you can watch the Aug. 24 presentations and discussion at http://baytowntx.swagit.com/play/08242017-1127/33/.

Words and photos by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator. 

Visiting the Lions Den

Jay Garrett

While saving the lives of homeless cats and dogs in Baytown is at the core of A Life to Live’s mission, education also is key.

That education comes in many forms, including sharing with community organizations why we’re here and the importance of our goals and services.

We had an opportunity to do just that recently with Baytown Lions Club members. Jay Garrett, founder and executive director of A Life to Live, was the guest speaker at their August 15 meeting.

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After enjoying a nice lunch at Golden Corral, Jay spent about 20 minutes providing an overview of A Life to Live’s history and programs. That was followed by a brief question-and-answer session.

We also distributed printed materials to members that highlight volunteer and foster opportunities, and the importance of pet microchipping and trap, spay/neuter, return.

We appreciate being able to share our story with others in the community. Thanks for the invitation from Baytown Lions Club, in particular Kathy Anderson, club president, and Dr. Anthony Price, first vice president.

Jay Garrett was guest speaker at the Baytown Lions Club lunch meeting. Among those in attendance were (front row) club president Kathy Anderson and officers (middle row) Carol Leskovjan and Dr. Anthony Price, and (back row) Dwayne Litteer and Rev. Mark Davis.

Jay Garrett was guest speaker at the Baytown Lions Club lunch meeting. Among those in attendance were (front row) club president Kathy Anderson and officers (middle row) Carol Leskovjan and Dr. Anthony Price, and (back row) Dwayne Litteer and Rev. Mark Davis.

Words and photos by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator. 

Garage Sale is Shoppers' Delight

Jay Garrett

It wasn’t your typical garage sale. First and foremost, there was no garage involved.

That’s because it took nearly every square inch of Cedar Bayou Baptist Church’s spacious gymnasium to hold all of the items offered at A Life to Live’s first community garage sale.

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Thanks to countless supporters who donated everything from clothes and kitchenware to toys and electronics, we had a wide array of items for shoppers to browse through.

The bargain hunters were lined up outside the gym before the doors opened at 8 a.m., and there was a steady stream of shoppers throughout the day until closing at 3 p.m.

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Many people took advantage of great deals, including filling up large storage boxes for the bargain price of $20.

When all was said and done, A Life to Live raised more than $1,600 in sales and donations. All proceeds will further our efforts to help homeless pets and achieve a no-kill Baytown by 2025.

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While not every item was sold, we made sure the goods didn’t go to waste. Everything that was left over at the end of the day was donated to The Cookie Jar Resale Shop in Baytown.

Lindsey Reyes, adoption coordinator for A Life to Live, led the way in planning and running the garage sale. She had plenty of help during Friday night setup and on sale day from a team of volunteers, including sisters Edith and Crisol Napoles.

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Thanks to Cedar Bayou Baptist Church for letting us use its facilities for the event. This may need to become an annual fundraiser.

Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator.

Local Realtor Kelly Dando Gives Back

Jay Garrett

Kelly Dando is a darn good realtor who also happens to love animals.

For A Life to Live and homeless pets in our community, that’s proving to be a great combination.

Kelly, who is with Coldwell Banker United Realtors in Baytown, has committed to donate $100 to A Life to Live for every $100,000 transaction she completes. Thanks to her recent home-selling efforts, we received a $300 check to further our efforts to save the lives of homeless cats and dogs.

Kelly Dando with Coldwell Banker United Realtors in Baytown presents a check for $300 to Jay Garrett, founder and executive director of A Life to Live. For every $100,000 transaction she completes, Dando has committed to donate $100 to A Life to Live, a local non-profit organization with a no-kill mission to save the lives of homeless cats and dogs. On hand for the donation are recent homebuyer Carolina Guanajuato and Nico Tuha, whose mother, Marsha, also purchased a home from Dando.

Kelly Dando with Coldwell Banker United Realtors in Baytown presents a check for $300 to Jay Garrett, founder and executive director of A Life to Live. For every $100,000 transaction she completes, Dando has committed to donate $100 to A Life to Live, a local non-profit organization with a no-kill mission to save the lives of homeless cats and dogs. On hand for the donation are recent homebuyer Carolina Guanajuato and Nico Tuha, whose mother, Marsha, also purchased a home from Dando.

“I believe that giving back to the community is very important. Since there is such an issue with dog and cat overpopulation and so many animals needlessly being euthanized, I feel compelled to support A Life to Live’s mission,” Kelly said.

“The organization has an amazing philosophy of giving all animals a second chance. They are a great group of volunteers who want to make a difference and have a positive impact on our community. That’s why I’m partnering with them as my chosen charity for Baytown.”

Helping animals isn’t new to Kelly. She has rescued many dogs, served as a foster and volunteered at shelters.

Kelly is excited to talk with her clients about her unique partnership with A Life to Live. She said that they are anxious to learn more about our organization.

Kelly also is a firm believer in adoption over breeding and buying pets.

“I encourage everyone to visit a shelter to see the impact and change that they can make by adopting,” she said.

On hand for the recent donation were homebuyer Carolina Guanajuato and Nico Tuha, whose mother, Marsha, also purchased a home from Kelly.

In the photo, they are holding foster puppies Hunny and Polka, who A Life to Live saved from the risk of euthanasia at Baytown Animal Control.

Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator. Photo by Preslie Cox, marketing coordinator and owner of Preslie Cox Photography

What a Way to Celebrate

Jay Garrett

When you’re a little girl about to turn 7 years old, birthday parties are a pretty big deal. For Lilly Scott, the celebration was extra spectacular.

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Lilly decided to take an unselfish approach to her birthday this year. Instead of asking for presents for herself, her focus was on helping homeless pets in our community.

Mission accomplished.

Working with Lilly and her mom, Crystal Scott, A Life to Live hosted a fun-filled afternoon at Jenkins Park in Baytown. Lilly and her guests had a blast, and our organization received an array of gifts and donations that will help us improve the lives of local dogs and cats.

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About 20 adults and a dozen kids came bearing gifts, including more than 200 pounds of pet food, treats, dog toys, beds, towels, blankets and community cat traps. In addition, we received $250 in donations to help support our life-saving programs and services.

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The kids kept busy petting and playing with four puppies currently in foster care. They also got to adopt cute plushie pets with certificates of adoption and have their faces painted.

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There were plenty of yummy human treats as well, including Lilly’s birthday cake that featured the phrase “Adopt Don’t Shop.”

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It was a seventh birthday to remember for Lilly, and we were excited to be part of it.

Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator. Photos by Preslie Cox, marketing coordinator and owner of Preslie Cox Photography

Party Time with Kendra Scott

Jay Garrett

Dogs, cats and jewelry were a winning combination at the Kendra Gives Back Party on June 23 at the Kendra Scott store at Baybrook Mall in Friendswood.

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The store drew a huge crowd of shoppers — for jewelry and adoptable pets. When all was said and done, A Life to Live received more than $1,600 from store sales and raffle donations. As a bonus, five of our rescued animals (four puppies and one kitten) were adopted into loving homes.

During this fun shopping event, 20% of sales from 6 to 8 p.m. benefited our organization. With brisk business, we received $1,031 in proceeds.

An additional $620 was generated from a raffle, which saw one lucky $10 ticket donor randomly selected to receive a beautiful set of jewelry from Kendra Scott’s High Summer Collection (necklace, earrings and bracelet) valued at $320.

“The three pillars of Kendra Scott’s company are family, fashion and philanthropy. So for us to be able to make an impact on our community through a Kendra Gives Back Party like this, where people can enjoy jewelry, puppies and kittens, I can’t think of a better combination,” said Robin LaLone, community relations and event manager for Kendra Scott.

“A Life to Live’s mission is so amazing, making sure that homeless animals find a forever home. We even put ‘furever’ on our event invitations to show everybody that you don’t need to shop, you can adopt. And that is something Kendra Scott is a big believer in. All of us here at the store have been texting our boyfriends and husbands to see if we can bring home animals ourselves.”

The puppies and kittens were a big hit. People of all ages spent time holding, petting and taking selfies with the animals. Those who didn’t adopt learned a lot about A Life to Live from our team members on hand, and many showed interest in adopting in the future.

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One person who adopted during the event was Robert Hemperley and his wife, Angela. For the past few months, they have been fostering a Chihuahua mix mama dog, Daisy, and her five puppies. They decided to bring Bear back home with them.

“We have three dogs already so we figured, why not?” Robert said. “This is our first time as fosters. It’s been a lot of work with the puppies, but they all played and got along great with the rest of our dogs. We’ve really enjoyed the experience.”

Thanks to Kendra Scott, one of our corporate partners, for providing us with the opportunity to educate so many people about our mission and helping us to continue saving the lives of homeless dogs and cats.

A Life to Live holds fundraising events throughout the year to support our various programs and services. Check our calendar to learn about upcoming events.

Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator for A Life to Live.

Sharing Our Story in the Community

Jay Garrett

There is never a bad time to share A Life to Live’s story.

In fact, engaging with the local community about our goals and programs is an important aspect of our no kill mission.

Our latest opportunity to do just that came on a recent Saturday morning at Faith Presbyterian Church in Baytown. We enjoyed breakfast with about 20 members of the men’s leadership group, including Reverend Dr. Jim Gill, the church’s pastor. That was followed by a presentation and discussion about A Life to Live.

Angie Seaton-Stanley, our food bank coordinator and a member of the church, introduced Jay Garrett, founder and executive director of A Life to Live. He gave a 30-minute presentation about the organization’s mission, history and community impact.

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Here are a few of the points that highlighted A Life to Live’s efforts:

• We’ve rescued more than 200 cats and dogs from an uncertain future. Most were scheduled to be euthanized at Baytown Animal Control, and the others were fending for their lives on the street. All of these animals are now safe in loving homes.

• We’ve trapped, spayed/neutered and returned more than 35 community cats in Baytown, preventing 630 homeless births through our Good Felines program. This number is expected to double by the end of 2017 through grants from Best Friends Animal Society.

• Our organization, which is 100 percent volunteer based, totaled more than 7,000 volunteer hours in 2016 to help save lives.

• Through our Food Bank, which had a soft launch in 2016, we have donated more than 2,500 pounds of food to the public to help keep pets within the care of their homes.

• We held a one-of-a-kind charitable 5K run and outdoor event in 2016, all for the benefit of homeless animals in our community. It brought together people, pets and businesses to save lives. Plans are well under way for the second annual event, which will be held Oct. 28 at Bicentennial Park in Baytown.

• From incorporation, A Life to Live has operated with the goal of establishing Baytown’s first no kill shelter and adoption center to provide life-saving resources and programs for local pets and pet owners. We are in the planning stages of seeking facility opportunities.

A brief question-and-answer session followed the presentation. And a pass-the-hat effort quickly raised more than $200 in donations for A Life to Live.

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“When I moved to Baytown in 2011, one of my first questions was, ‘Is there a no kill shelter?’ I found out there wasn’t, but it’s something that I’m very passionate about,” said David Benard, a church member.

“Every dog deserves a life to live. Euthanasia is not the answer. It is very cruel. Any life that we can save, it’s going to help someone else. God created all of us. We’re all in this together.”

Thanks to Faith Presbyterian Church and its men’s leadership group for inviting us to be part of their Saturday morning. We enjoyed sharing our story with others who support our cause.

Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator with A Life to Live.

Keeping Memories Alive Through Donations

Jay Garrett

From the day she got her Pekingese puppy 13 years ago, Julia (Judy) Faye Carter and China Doll were inseparable.

“She just loved that dog. She treated her like a child. She probably had 10 beds in the house for her. She had her groomed all the time. That was her pride and joy,” said Judy’s daughter-in-law, Wanda Caples Carter.

Judy was an animal lover who was active in the Baytown community for many years. She passed away on June 8 at age 87.

An unselfish decision by Judy and her family will help keep Judy’s memory alive through the good works of A Life to Live.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to our organization.

“She didn’t want people buying flowers or spending money on things like that. She wanted to make a difference. Since she wasn’t able to foster, she felt that asking people to donate to A Live to Live was the perfect way to give back,” Wanda said.

Judy always had a soft spot for animals in need. Especially dogs. It’s how she and China Doll met.

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“China had a problem with one of her eyes, and the person Judy got her from was maybe even thinking about putting China down as a puppy. But my mother-in-law was like, ‘No, no. We’ll take her.’ China continued to have eye problems off and on, but Judy always took care of her. She wouldn’t have had it any other way,” Wanda said.

Judy became aware of A Life to Live when Wanda took her to one of our adoption events. She said that Judy was impressed with the volunteers and the way they cared for the dogs and cats.

“That really made an impression on her. And when I shared more about the organization and the wonderful work that it does, she was just in love with it,” Wanda said. “She was a big supporter of the goal to create a no-kill community, where all the animals are given a chance to be saved and live a full, productive life.”

While A Life to Live counts on the support of donors throughout the year, Judy and her family’s generous act is especially meaningful.

“To learn that they want to honor her memory through donations to A Life to Live was very humbling and incredibly kind,” said Jay Garrett, founder and executive director of A Life to Live. “Judy was known for celebrating life through her numerous donations to local programs and schools. I'm moved by her charity, her kind heart and the compassion shown by her family to celebrate her life by donating to save the lives of homeless pets within the Baytown community.

“We are thankful for the Carter family’s support of our organization over the past three years and their continued generosity. Our prayers are with the family as they remember and celebrate the life of their loved one.”

Helping animals in need is something that runs in the family.

Wanda has been an animal activist and rescuer for years. She has fostered countless dogs, and makes sure they receive proper medical care before finding good homes for them.

“I have eight dogs of my own. Some of them are handicapped. They were really abused dogs. I’m very attached to them,” said Wanda, whose daughter also has eight dogs. “So our whole family, we just love dogs.”

Judy’s granddaughter and family are now taking care of China Doll.

“We took China to see her the day before she passed. As we put her on the bed, Judy smiled a slight smile. It made me cry because I know she loved her so much,” Wanda said.

Read more about Judy’s life.

If you would like to help save homeless dogs and cats in the community, please consider making a donation to A Life to Live.

Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator with A Life to Live.

Summer Fun at the Library

Jay Garrett

Public libraries are about so much more than books these days.

While encouraging everyone to read remains a priority, they connect with communities — especially kids — in a variety of other ways.

A Life to Live was invited to be part of a fun event recently at Stratford Branch Library in Highlands.

To go along with the library’s summer reading program theme of “Build a Better World,” local children transformed T-shirts into braided toys for our adoptable pets.

Tables were filled with strips of T-shirt material. With a little instruction from library staff, about a dozen children produced a pile of colorful rope-like dog toys that they donated to A Life to Live.

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“A lot of the activities we’re doing this summer aren’t just about building things with Legos. It’s about helping to solve problems and doing things for people around us. In this case, we’re recycling T-shirts and making toys for dogs in need,” said Mandy Sheffield, branch librarian.

One of our dogs (Coco) and three of our kittens (Jacob, Ruth, Naomi) were on hand to inspire the kids, who were having a cool time indoors on this hot afternoon. Terri Fitch, our outreach coordinator, also brought along her service dog, Gemma.

When the kids weren’t making toys, they were having fun holding and petting the animals. The kittens were, well, kittens. They scampered down the aisles and explored the book collection. One even took a few minutes to enjoy the book, “Five Black Cats,” with one of the kids.

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Terri took this great opportunity to share information with the children and their parents about A Life to Live’s mission, services and upcoming events.

Thanks to the staff at Stratford Branch Library for inviting us to join their summer fun. We had a blast, and so did the kids, judging by the smiles on their faces.

Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator with A Life to Live.