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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! 

We Pay a Visit to Ronald McDonald House

Jay Garrett

Several members of our A Life to Live team made a special trip into the Texas Medical Center during the holiday season.

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We stopped by Ronald McDonald House Houston at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital to deliver some large stuffed animals and freshly baked cookies to families of young patients.

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Ronald McDonald House Houston offers an affordable and comfortable place to stay, where families can take their minds off their stress and be most helpful and supportive to their child and other siblings.

As parents and family members were taking a break from the emotional demands of being by their child’s side, they were able to enjoy the sweet treats and pick up a plush toy.

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Thanks to Danay Bryant, Ronald McDonald House manager, for helping us feel welcome and allowing us to spread a little cheer to these families.

Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator.

Cats Ride Rescue Express to Better Future

Jay Garrett

As A Life to Live strives to find forever homes for all the cats and dogs in our foster program, we leave no stone unturned. 

For 15 foster cats, that meant an 18-hour, 1,200-mile bus ride recently to Angel of Hope Animal Rescue in Dayton, Minnesota.

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More than 50 additional dogs and cats from several shelters and rescue organizations in the greater Houston area joined our pets on the excursion, which also stopped at Ruff Start Rescue in Princeton, Minnesota.

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Coordinated by Houston PetSet, the goal of the northbound journey from Harris County Animal Shelter was to offer the animals a greater chance of being adopted.

“The cats and kittens that we chose to go on transport to Minnesota were pets that have been in our program for several months. Many of the cats were saved from Baytown Animal Control in the days following Hurricane Harvey,” said Magan Gonzales, co-founder and program director of A Life to Live.

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“It can be challenging to find homes for cats in our area, especially since many families are still struggling. We were grateful for the opportunity to send our cats and kittens to a rescue organization that has a high demand for them.”

Because A Life to Live does not have a facility, all of the animals we rescue are placed in foster homes until they are adopted. The transport to Minnesota freed up space in our foster homes, which gives us an opportunity to save more lives at Baytown Animal Control.

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The trip was provided free by Rescue Express animal transport service. Based in Rancho Santa Fe, California, Rescue Express is an initiative of the MGM Animal Foundation.

Initially focused on transporting animals from high-kill shelters in Southern and Central California to rescue groups in the Pacific Northwest, Rescue Express has expanded to complete “freedom rides” to other areas of the country.

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Since its inaugural transport in February 2015, Rescue Express has saved the lives of about 13,000 animals. It uses large-capacity school buses that have been converted to safely and humanely transport up to 200 animals per trip.

“This is the sixth time we’ve come to Houston to transport animals. Our first trip out here was the day after the Hurricane Harvey floods,” said Jason Lohs, transport supervisor for Rescue Express.

After working in the restaurant business for 15 years, Lohs has been driving buses for Rescue Express the past six months.

“I tell people that I quit the rat race to join the cat and dog race. I’m having a blast,” he said.

Prior to the trip we prepared updated medical history files for each animal, with proof of spay/neuter, vaccination and rabies shots. They received health certificates from the Harris County clinic to verify that they are in good general health.

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Our cats and kittens came from four foster homes in Baytown. Shelly Hogan, transport coordinator for A Life to Live, drove all 15 of them to Harris County Animal Shelter on the day of the trip. She then handed them off one by one to the Rescue Express team, which secured them on the bus.

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Houston PetSet Co-Presidents Tena Lundquist Faust and Tama Lundquist coordinated the trip. A year earlier, they had joined their father, Wayne, in planning a transport of Houston animals to organizations near their Minnesota hometown of Brainerd. However, before they could see their plan come to fruition, Wayne passed away.

  Jay Garrett Jr., founder and executive director of A Life to Live, pictured with Tena Lundquist Faust and Tama Lundquist, co-presidents of Houston PetSet. 

Jay Garrett Jr., founder and executive director of A Life to Live, pictured with Tena Lundquist Faust and Tama Lundquist, co-presidents of Houston PetSet. 

The twin sisters carried out the mission in their father’s honor. They flew to Minnesota to meet the Rescue Express team and ensure all the animals arrived safe and sound.

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If you would like to help A Life to Live save more pets, please consider applying to become a foster or make a donation.

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Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator.

Wish Tree Gifts Help Make Holiday Season Brighter

Jay Garrett

While A Life to Live has taken the lead to ensure a better future for homeless animals in Baytown, it requires the contributions of many others in our community to help us achieve our goals.

One of our dedicated supporters is Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. Recently, employees at the Cedar Bayou Plant showed their giving spirit for the holiday season.

As part of the plant’s Wish Tree program, several employees purchased pet food, toys and bedding for A Life to Live. Our team met Heather Betancourth, Chevron Phillips Chemical regional community relations representative, at the plant to pick up the bags of donations that filled a truck bed.

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We truly appreciate this act of kindness. The items will help feed and comfort animals in our foster program, as well as other pets in the community that we serve through our food bank.

Earlier in 2017, Chevron Phillips Chemical demonstrated its giving spirit in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The company made a $1 million contribution to support relief efforts in Houston and other parts of southeast Texas. As part of that generous action, we received a $10,000 donation to help fund our relief efforts in Baytown.

Because A Life to Live is a non-profit organization, donations are key in helping fund our programs and services. All donations are guaranteed to make a direct impact on the lives of the animals that we save. Consider making a donation today at www.adopttosave.org/donate to help save the lives of local homeless pets.

Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator.

Taking it to the Streets

Jay Garrett

A Life to Live is taking it to the streets.

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As we strive to achieve a no-kill Baytown, it’s important that we educate the community about our mission and add to our teams of volunteers and fosters so that we can save the lives of more homeless animals.

One way we’re doing that is through outreach efforts in neighborhoods across Baytown.

During a recent Sunday morning, outreach coordinator Terri Fitch and three other volunteers spent several hours knocking on doors and visiting with residents in the Lakewood subdivision.

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“We distributed lots of information about A Life to Live, and made some great connections and new friends,” Terri said.

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Some learned about A Life to Live for the first time, while others had heard of us but were eager to know more about our various programs.

Volunteers Eric Harding, Ann Seawright and Sharon Tucker joined Terri to share information about volunteer and foster opportunities. They enjoyed a long visit with one resident who was helping care for community cats in the neighborhood.

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We were able to educate her about our Good Felines program, which humanely and effectively limits the reproduction of community cats through trap-neuter-return (TNR) and shelter-neuter-return (SNR) efforts.

In an outing following Hurricane Harvey, our outreach efforts included telling residents in another area of Baytown about our food bank. We provided pet food to those who were most impacted by the flooding.

“We discovered that not only were homes destroyed, but dog houses as well. One of the things we’d like to do is find partners willing to donate materials so that we can help rebuild some of these dog houses,” Terri said.

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Outreach outings are held throughout the year. If you’d like to join us, apply to volunteer today

Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator.

Students Learn How They Can Help

Jay Garrett

A Life to Live recently stopped by Ross S. Sterling High School in Baytown to visit with members of the school’s HOSA-Future Health Professionals organization.

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Formerly known as Health Occupations Students of America, the nationally affiliated career and technical student organization includes teens who are interested in pursuing careers in a range of health care fields, including veterinary medicine.

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We provided the students with an overview of A Life to Live and highlighted some of the volunteer opportunities available to them. We already have a number of young volunteers on our team. Among their favorite duties is to help watch over the cats and dogs at our adoption events.

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We’re always looking for additional volunteers. Opportunities are available for people of all ages. Learn more and apply to volunteer today

Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator.

Giving Thanks for Life-saving Efforts

Jay Garrett

It was an occasion for reflection, recognition and celebration.

A Life to Live’s first Thanks for Giving dinner and program on Nov. 25 at McLeod Recreation Center in Mont Belvieu brought together our organization’s leadership team, volunteers, fosters, family members and other community supporters for a memorable post-Thanksgiving event.

“Tonight is a special night. It’s a night to give thanks to you: our volunteers, our fosters, our supporters, our partners, our advocates — the people who support life,” said Jay Garrett Jr., founder and executive director of A Life to Live, in kicking off the evening.

Following the post-Thanksgiving potluck feast, Jay shared his personal journey that led to A Life to Live’s launch in 2014. At the core of his story was a desire to ensure that homeless animals in Baytown were given the chance to live their full lives. It’s a mission that remains at the heart of A Life to Live.

The organization has grown by leaps and bounds since those earliest days when Jay was a one-man show. Today, A Life to Live features about 50 active volunteers, including about 25 fosters, who together have contributed more than 20,000 service hours in 2017.

The positive impact that our volunteers and other community supporters have made is reflected in several key statistics. Since our establishment, A Life to Live has enrolled 500 pets into our foster program. In 2017 alone, A Life to Live has saved 239 from Baytown Animal Shelter and adopted out 220 into loving homes.

Our foster parents are currently medicating, bathing, cleaning up after, feeding and loving about 60 dogs and cats in our program. Additionally, in 2017, more than 130 community cats have been serviced through our Good Felines program and nearly 15,000 pounds of pet supplies have been donated for foster animals and pet owners in the community who need help keeping their animals fed.

A major highlight of 2017 was Baytown City Council’s unanimous passage of a no-kill resolution, which was initiated by A Life to Live and carried forward to a vote by council member Robert Hoskins. The measure states that by 2025, 90% or more of all healthy adoptable animals entering the city’s animal control facility will be saved.

For his efforts in support of the no-kill cause, councilman Hoskins received A Life to Live’s Creating a Caring Community Award. It was the first of several honors presented by Jay and Magan Gonzales, co-founder and program director, to recognize significant contributions by volunteers, leadership team members and community supporters who believe in our no-kill mission.

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Other award recipients were: Anna Balentine - Compassion Care and Courage Award; David Berkowitz – Voice for the Voiceless Award; Preslie Cox – Commitment to Companionship Award; Deanna Domingue – Foster of the Year Award; Terri Fitch – Compassion, Care and Courage Award; Jay Garrett Sr. – Sustaining Lifesaving Award; Louise Lanham – Volunteer of the Year Award; Amy O’Banion – Commitment to Companionship Award; Jaxson Sanders – Superhero for Shelter Pets Award; Tearsa Smesny – Compassion, Care and Courage Award; and Wrenn Wright – Compassion Care and Courage Award.

“Each and every one of you were invited to this special occasion tonight because of your efforts to save lives while working to serve people and pets within our community,” Jay said to dinner attendees.

“You’ve voiced your love and concern for the welfare of animals within our city. You’ve taken action, you’ve shown up and you’ve committed to making a change. For that, I thank you. For that, my team thanks you. And for your support, the animals surely thank you.”

Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator.

Honors Recognize Our Ongoing Work

Jay Garrett

A Life to Live’s ongoing efforts to ensure a better quality of life for homeless cats and dogs in our community has been recognized with two recent honors.

Global Health & Pharma’s GHP Magazine named us Best Abandoned Pet Adoption Agency-Gulf Coast for 2017. GHP Magazine’s 2017 Animal Health and Wellness Awards acknowledge organizations that work to support the welfare, care and wellness of animals.

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The publication is a global information-sharing platform that was established to enhance communication networks and collaboration among organizations and professionals in the areas of human, animal and environmental health. GHP is based in Staffordshire, United Kingdom.

Additionally, at its 2017 Gifting Event, Houston PetSet announced that we are a grant recipient. A Life to Live was among more than 90 organizations recognized by Houston PetSet for working tirelessly to save homeless animals.

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Houston PetSet is dedicated to making a difference by raising awareness and funds for animal welfare-related nonprofits in the Greater Houston area. Its goal is to help those in the trenches on a daily basis who are rescuing, spaying, neutering, fostering, adopting and protecting the lives of animals.

  Jay Garrett Jr., founder and executive director of A Life to Live (left), Magan Gonzales, cofounder and program director of A Life to Live (middle), Charles Jackson, executive director of Rescued Pets Movement (right). The three were present for Houston PetSet's annual charitable gifting event. 

Jay Garrett Jr., founder and executive director of A Life to Live (left), Magan Gonzales, cofounder and program director of A Life to Live (middle), Charles Jackson, executive director of Rescued Pets Movement (right). The three were present for Houston PetSet's annual charitable gifting event. 

Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator.

Who's That Doggy in the Window?

Jay Garrett

“Why are there dogs in that jewelry store?”

It was a question heard more than once from passersby on Nov. 10 outside the Kendra Scott store at Baybrook Mall in Friendswood.

  A young passerby stares into the storefront window at Bella, one of our rescue dogs that was recently adopted into a loving family. 

A young passerby stares into the storefront window at Bella, one of our rescue dogs that was recently adopted into a loving family. 

The answer: A Life to Live’s adoptable pets were the guests of honor at another Kendra Gives Back party to benefit our organization.

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Many of those people who wondered who that doggy in the window was decided to find out. And after they checked out several of our foster animals, some also decided to purchase jewelry.

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With Kendra Scott donating 20% of sales from 6 to 8 p.m. to A Life to Live, we received $682 in proceeds. Another $80 came our way from a raffle, which saw one lucky ticket buyer receive a designer piece of jewelry courtesy of Kendra Scott and $100 in gift cards courtesy of Microsoft.

Among those who stopped by during the pleasant fall evening was a newly engaged couple who came by to pick up her ring. When she spotted a sweet doggie face that she also fell in love with, she convinced her future husband that they should adopt.

  This little pup found his forever home. 

This little pup found his forever home. 

While no other animals were taken home that night, they all received plenty of love from customers and Kendra Scott staff.

  Kendra Scott's employees love our adoption events. Who doesn't love some cuddles and kisses while on the clock? Makes for a happy employee and customer when puppies are involved!

Kendra Scott's employees love our adoption events. Who doesn't love some cuddles and kisses while on the clock? Makes for a happy employee and customer when puppies are involved!

This marked the fifth time we have held a fundraising event in conjunction with Kendra Scott, which is one of our corporate partners. As always, we thank them for the opportunity to educate others about our mission and help 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.

 

Fosters Play Key Role in Helping Save Pets' Lives

Jay Garrett

When A Life to Live rescues animals from the threat of euthanasia at Baytown Animal Shelter, that’s only the first step to ensuring they find their forever homes.

Before these dogs and cats can be adopted, they need a safe environment to live. And that’s where foster families enter the picture.

Through our foster program, volunteers open their homes to provide shelter, food, water and care until the pet is adopted.

“We can’t do what we do without our fosters. Without our foster program, our adoption program wouldn’t exist,” said Jay Garrett Jr., founder and executive director of A Life to Live.

Because A Life to Live has no physical facility to house the rescued animals, we rely on the kindness of people in the community who open their homes to these dogs and cats.

One such person is Anna Balentine of Baytown, who has fostered a number of dogs over the past year. “I would foster cats, too, but my mother and I are allergic to them,” she said.

  Anna with newly enrolled foster dog, Cowboy. 

Anna with newly enrolled foster dog, Cowboy. 

Taking on the foster role was an easy decision for Anna.

“I just love animals. I think every animal deserves to have a better life instead of being stuck in a shelter and having a chance of being euthanized,” she said. “Every animal needs a home, needs people to love on them and needs people that they can call their family.”

A Life to Live has more than 25 foster volunteers caring for about 60 animals, according to Rocio Arreola, foster coordinator. But we can always use more people who are willing to provide temporary homes before the pets find their permanent families.

  Deanna Domingue, another foster parent with newly enrolled pups Jimi (on right) and Janis (on left). 

Deanna Domingue, another foster parent with newly enrolled pups Jimi (on right) and Janis (on left). 

Fosters receive all the training, supplies and other support needed to care for the pets under their supervision.

“You just need a big heart and the mentality that you’re giving them a chance to better their lives,” said Anna, 26, who gets help from her mother, Cheryl.

“The biggest challenge for me is letting them go when they’re adopted because I fall in love with every one of them. I get so attached to them, but I know they have a chance to join a good family and enjoy a better life.”

Anyone interested in becoming a foster can apply at www.adopttosave.org/foster.

  Ceres is a beautiful white German Shepherd that was saved from the shelter that is currently in foster care. 

Ceres is a beautiful white German Shepherd that was saved from the shelter that is currently in foster care. 

Other volunteers also are needed to assist with a variety of tasks, ranging from helping at adoption events to trapping and transporting community cats to providing photography and videography expertise. To learn more about volunteer opportunities and to apply to become a volunteer, go to www.adopttosave.org/volunteer.

Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator.

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