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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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"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! 

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


“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.


“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.


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.

Helping Those in Need and Their Pets

Jay Garrett

For many people living on a fixed income, there is often no wiggle room when it comes to having something they may want versus something they truly need.

But thanks to a new collaborative outreach effort with Baytown Housing Authority, A Life to Live is ensuring that some local residents and their pets are able to breathe a bit easier.

“The idea developed from our desire to help pet owners within our community who are in financial need or on fixed incomes,” said Jay Garrett, founder and executive director of A Life to Live. “They may not have the luxury to afford a microchip for their pet. Or they may not have transportation to one of our microchip events where we offer a limited number of free chips.”

So A Life to Live began bringing the microchips directly to these pet owners and their four-legged companions.

On Sunday morning, June 11, we set up shop in the community building at Edison Courts, 1100 N. 10th St. There, trained team members provided free microchip implants to several dogs belonging to residents.

Along with the microchips, we also provided free pet food to those who needed it. It comes from our food bank program, which is supported entirely through donations from individuals and community partners.

“When you have families that are on fixed incomes, the joys of having a companion animal are often viewed as a luxury that they cannot afford,” said Cora Lanclos, property manager for Baytown Housing Authority. “So it means the world to our residents to know that there are options and agencies out there that can make their lives and the lives of their pets a priority.”

Baytown Housing Authority provides subsidized housing to low-income families, seniors and people with disabilities at several properties in Baytown. A Life to Live is planning similar outreach visits to Alexander Place Apartments, Olive Courts and Sam Houston Place.

“My dog, Buddy, just turned 5 months old. Getting him microchipped was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. If he ever gets lost, I feel good about my chances of getting him back safely,” said Edison Courts resident Patrick Kelley, a youth pastor with Dream Church in Baytown.


A microchip is a permanent ID for pets. It cannot fall off, weather or be removed. A microchip that is registered and up to date with accurate contact information can save a pet’s life.

At community events throughout the year, A Life to Live offers free and low-cost microchips for dogs and cats.

We provide these opportunities to:

• help owners recover their lost pets,

• decrease the number of pets killed in local shelters,

• free up kennel space in local shelters for animals that are truly homeless,

• decrease the amount of taxpayers’ money spent on euthanasia, and

• decrease the chances of an owner’s stolen pet from being re-homed or sold.

Check our calendar for information on upcoming microchip events. Some are held in partnership with local veterinarians.

Contact A Life to Live if you’re interested in sponsoring future microchip events.

Thanks to Cora Lanclos with Baytown Housing Authority for helping us plan the events at Edison Courts and the other properties. Also, thanks to Jessica Perez, public housing specialist, who was on site Sunday to help us interact with residents.

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

All it Takes is a Chip To Save

Jay Garrett

It happens to the best of us.

You open the door to take out the trash, and your dog or cat makes a break for it. So you drop the garbage bag and hightail it after Fido or Fluffy.

If you’re lucky, he or she responds to your immediate command to stop. But if more effort is required, and your animal tracking skills are a bit rusty, there could be trouble.

Sometimes, despite our best efforts to keep them safe in our homes, our pets go missing. That’s where microchips come to the rescue.

A Life to Live’s Chip to Save program provides residents in our community with free and low-cost microchipping at events throughout the year. One such opportunity came on June 11 at PetSmart in Baytown.

Pet owners and their dogs of all shapes and sizes were lined up prior to the 10 a.m. start. The first 10 received their microchips absolutely free. Ten others got theirs for the low cost of $15.

Our veterinary team partners from Abshier-Meuth Animal Hospital were on hand to administer the chips, while keeping the animals calm during the brief process. About the size of a grain of rice, the microchip is implanted beneath the pet’s skin between the shoulder blades.


We registered each chip to ensure that if the pet ever gets lost, accurate contact information will be available to reunite the pet with its owner.

So far this year, A Life to Live has microchipped more than 200 pets. That’s up from about 150 in 2016. We have provided half of all those microchips free.

“I wanted to get my dogs microchipped so that in case they ever do get out, there’s a good Samaritan out there who will scan them and bring me back my babies,” said Kristie Vaughan, who had her dachshunds, Kona and Lodi, microchipped.

Kristie Vaughan with Kona and Lodi.

Kristie Vaughan with Kona and Lodi.

Kristie is quite familiar with A Life to Live, as she has a cat that was adopted from our organization. “My mom adopted it last July and gave it to me for my birthday,” she said.

We obtain our chips and register them through the Found Animals universal database. Found Animals, which is one of our non-profit partners, has a mission to “put pets in homes and keep them there — because all pets are meant to be with good people.”

A microchip is a permanent ID for your pet. It can’t fall off, weather or be removed.

Each chip contains a unique number used to identify animals when scanned by a shelter or vet. The number is then used to find the owner’s contact information in the registry.

There are no fees associated with the chip registration, profile updates or ongoing use of the database system.

Visit our Chip To Save page for more information on how you can get your pet chipped. We’d love for you to sponsor or donate toward our next event, and help us recover pets and save more lives.

In addition to the microchipping event, A Life to Live had a host of adoptable pets on hand at PetSmart. By day’s end, two dogs (Freckles, Cali), two puppies (Zuma, Peanut) and one kitten (Hope) were going home with new owners.

Freckles and smiles!

Freckles and smiles!

Hope and the girls! 

Hope and the girls! 

If you’re interested in adopting a dog or cat, check out our adoptables page.

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

Advisory Committee Meetings Provide Venue to Suggest Improvements

Jay Garrett

For A Life to Live’s no-kill mission to become a reality, our hand-in-hand working relationship with the City of Baytown is key.

Animal Control Advisory Board Meetings take place at the City of Baytown's Health Department, located at 220 West Defee Avenue, and are open to the public. 

Animal Control Advisory Board Meetings take place at the City of Baytown's Health Department, located at 220 West Defee Avenue, and are open to the public. 

To further that effort, Jay Garrett, founder and executive director of A Life to Live, serves on the Baytown Animal Control Advisory Committee.

“My role is to encourage and promote the implementation of life-saving programs and processes by educating city management, council, board members and staff about no-kill solutions that are being successfully used throughout the country,” Jay said.

“These programs have proven to not only save lives, but also are cost effective and sustainable. In addition, they have the ability to increase the morale of animal services employees and the public.”

Jay was appointed to the six-member advisory committee in September of 2016. Immediately into his appointment, starting at the first group meeting in January of 2017, he suggested a number of actions to support the no-kill effort.

During a committee meeting on May 3, 2017, he presented further improvement opportunities for Baytown Animal Services.

Key discussion topics included:

• Unnecessary euthanasia

• Leadership decision-making

• Physical and operational facility improvements

• Policies and procedures

• Public education efforts

Many of the points he raised were based on recommendations of a subcommittee, which conducted an independent review of Baytown Animal Services in Fall of 2015 and made suggestions to City Council.

While Animal Services Director Kevin Cummings presented some improvements made during the past fiscal year, Jay believes there is much more work to be done.

“The City of Baytown is way behind the curve when it comes to animal welfare. Statistically, when comparing the percentage of animals that leave our facility alive to the number of animals that are euthanized, we have a higher kill rate than the City of Houston,” Jay said.

“Based on the huge differences in Baytown’s human and pet populations compared to Houston’s, we have an opportunity to control our outcomes and manage our programs and processes in a much more refined manner.”

A Life to Live continues to do its part to save lives through animal rescue, volunteer programs, foster coordination, trap-spay/neuter-return, and a comprehensive adoption program.

“We’ve acknowledged the issues. We’ve identified the solutions. Now, life-saving programs and processes need to be put in place by the City of Baytown,” Jay said.

“We’re here to serve and be part of the solution. But, Baytown needs to take a life-saving stance and make the commitment to end the killing of healthy and treatable animals. We would like the city to put its foot down and declare that they are committed to saving lives.”

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

The below are exerts from Christopher James' article within The Baytown Sun, which was published the day following the above referenced committee meeting. 

A Cat-tastic Family Reunion

Jay Garrett

There’s nothing more rewarding than rescuing cats and dogs from being euthanized, and fostering them until they’re placed in loving homes.

At least, that’s what we thought until recently.

For the first time, A Life to Live has taken things a step further by not only saving the life of a cat but also reuniting it with the original owners.

It was a long and winding road to the tearful reunion.

Alyx the cat slipped away from home in January and ended up at City of Baytown Animal Services tagged for euthanasia.

Jennifer Fergerson and her five children, who raised the 3-year-old indoor cat since she was a kitten, had given up hope of finding the cat with a distinctive short, crooked tail.

“We called some local shelters to see if she was there. We looked online because a lot of organizations will post pictures. We even checked with some Houston agencies, but no luck anywhere,” Jennifer said.

“We didn’t know where she was. And since we have a canal behind our house, we pretty much figured she was gone.”

What the Fergersons didn’t realize was that Alyx had been picked up as a stray by Baytown Animal Services on Jan. 25, the same day she went missing. There she stayed until Feb. 17.

That’s when A Life to Live stepped in.

“She had been there so long without being adopted, they were about to euthanize her. So we rescued her,” said Jay Garrett, founder and executive director.

Now called Sandy, Alyx was placed in a foster home to await adoption.

We completely vaccinated and microchipped the cat, checked for spay, tested for feline leukemia and AIDS, and provided regular heart worm and flea preventative.

Alyx’s photo and description were added to our adoptables page.

In the meantime, the Fergersons, who recently moved from Baytown to Crosby, decided they were going to adopt another kitten after this school year.

While looking at Baytown Animal Services’ Facebook page, they noticed a photo of “Female Calico #37957.” It was Alyx.

The Fergersons quickly contacted the shelter and learned that we had taken in Alyx.

“When we saw her photo on A Life to Live’s website, we thought she had already been adopted,” Jennifer said. “I told the kids that while she’s not with us, at least she’s probably healthy and in a good home with somebody else who loves her.”

However, Jennifer discovered that Alyx still was available for adoption. That’s when she put on a full-court press to prove that Sandy was indeed their Alyx.

Jennifer shared family photos. She confirmed that Alyx’s front paws were declawed and that the cat had been spayed. She also mentioned its funky-looking tail.

That was all the evidence we needed to begin making plans for the reunion April 28 at PetSmart in Baytown.

Jennifer and her oldest daughter, Anna, tried to keep the news that Alyx was coming home a secret from the rest of the family.

“While my mom went to see Alyx, I stalled the others by taking them to these different stores and saying I needed to buy stuff for my apartment,” said Anna, 19, a student at Sam Houston State University.

Jennifer with Alyx after months of being separated. 

Jennifer with Alyx after months of being separated. 

After Jennifer tearfully confirmed the cat was their Alyx, she called Anna to let her know it was OK to bring her sister and brothers into PetSmart.

The kids were all smiles, taking turns petting and holding the cat they lovingly call Chicken Strip.

Alyx is closest to Avery, 18, a student at Goose Creek Memorial High School. He got the cat when she was about 4 weeks old.

“It’s kind of crazy,” Avery said. “I never thought this would happen. I didn’t think we’d see her again.”

The experience is a great example of what A Life to Live is all about.

“This is why we do what we do. We want to interact with the community. We want to save lives, especially in this type of scenario,” Jay said.

“This was somebody’s beloved pet. They owned her for three years, and it just so happened that once in all that time she escaped outside. I’m so glad we were there to save her.”

The timing couldn’t have been better emotionally for the Fergersons. They were still coping with the loss of their 8-year-old Miniature Schnauzer to cancer the day after Easter.

“We had given up hope of ever being reunited with Alyx,” Jennifer said. “The way it all turned out, with us just happening to come across her picture and the role that A Life to Live played in all of this, I guess it was fate. It was just meant to be.”

The Fergerson's and Alyx with executive director, Jay Garrett, and foster coordinator, Richelle Dallas. 

The Fergerson's and Alyx with executive director, Jay Garrett, and foster coordinator, Richelle Dallas. 

The Fergersons are sold on A Life to Live’s mission. Jennifer said she and her children would like to volunteer.

“It’s a wonderful thing they are doing,” she said. “Baytown and other communities need more people like them.”

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

New Volunteers/Fosters Learn the Ropes

Jay Garrett

Being active in the community comes natural for Edith and Crisol Napoles. Their participation in student clubs and service organizations has kept them quite busy in recent years.

Volunteer activities have included picking up trash in Mont Belvieu, helping stuff athlete bags for a Memorial Hermann Ironman triathlon in Galveston, and even assisting at A Life to Live event in Baytown by keeping kittens entertained and bringing dogs outside for restroom breaks.

Next up for the Napoles sisters is making an impact in more formal roles as volunteers and fosters with A Life to Live. They joined people of all ages who attended our orientation sessions on April 23 at Baytown Community Center.

“We’ve always loved animals. We grew up with dogs, goats, chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs, you name it. It was always like a mini-farm at our house,” said Crisol, 20, a sophomore at Lee College.

“We see a lot of strays, and we know there are too many animals that are losing their lives. So we want to be part of something to help make a positive change. One animal at a time, right?” said Edith, 18, a junior at Barbers Hill High School.

Edith and Crisol look forward to helping at future A Life to Live events and serving as fosters, providing a temporary home for dogs and cats prior to finding their permanent families.

The sisters discovered a lot about both opportunities during the orientations, which are held periodically as part of our community outreach and education efforts.

Attendees were introduced to the organization’s history, mission and goals, including our no kill philosophy. They learned about basic expectations for volunteers and fosters, had a chance to ask questions of leadership team members, and met other people who want to help save lives.

Deanna Domingue, who lived in Baytown for more than 25 years before moving to Pasadena, recently joined our growing team of fosters.

“I’ve been fostering for A Life to Live for about a month, but I’ve been doing it for 2½ years overall,” said Deanna, who previously fostered dogs for friends and a different rescue.

“I’ve been fostering a momma dog and her two puppies, and I recently got another dog. On top of those, I have my own dog and two cats.”

While Deanna is passionate about her role as a foster, she credits the dogs under her care for helping improve her own health situation.

“The fostering that I’ve done has helped save me from me. I used to be a couch potato. I weighed 240 pounds and had various health issues. But being more active, getting out there and walking the dogs, has been a real bonus for me,” she said. “Honestly, I think these animals are helping me as much or more than I’m helping them.”

Fosters help make our mission a reality, and we are always looking for more to join our team. To apply to become a foster, complete an application.

And there are numerous ways to get involved as a volunteer. Apply today.

Thanks to Panera Bread for providing lunch for orientation participants. Also, thanks to Baytown Cookie Momster for some tasty treats.

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


No Kill Through the Eyes of a Rescue

Jay Garrett

Tank recently underwent a series of surgeries for entropion, a genetic condition in which the eyelids are inverted, or rolled in, which cause his eyelashes to scratch his eyes. This condition, without proper treatment, can cause severe irritation and can lead to blindness. Tank's condition was so bad, that his eyes constantly watered and were swollen almost completely shut, not allowing him to see very well.

Tank's first set of stitches remained for 2 weeks, and then after the second surgery, he had another series of stitches for 3 weeks. After several weeks of recovery from surgeries, Tank had his stitches removed, granting him the opportunity to fully heel. The overall cost for these surgeries, including medication and treatment was close to $1,000. The cost was well worth the life that we saved. 

Because of our No Kill mission, we couldn't allow Tank to remain in pain! If he were in a traditional high-kill shelter, Tank would've never been provided with a second chance at life. Tank is a bully breed mix, he had mange, ringwom and a skin condition when he entered our program. And, with his watery eyes, goop coming from both sides, his level of discomfort, and the costs associated with treatment, his future would've been nothing other than euthanasia. 

Tank is now healing with his family and new home for the holidays! He is not only being provided with a second chance, but he is literally seeing the light of life and opportunity for the first time with new eyes!

Consider helping our life-saving mission and supporting the next Tank in need! Help us save a life! Any donation, in any amount, will help us continue with our life-saving work!

Here's Tank with his newly adopted family and siblings! #HappyTails #ALifeToLive #AdoptToSave

Here's Tank with his newly adopted family and siblings! #HappyTails #ALifeToLive #AdoptToSave

A Walk to Give

Jay Garrett

Nov. 5, 2016 | Jenkins Park | Baytown, TX







Chip To Save

Jay Garrett

On July 30th, A Life to Live partnered with Abshier-Meuth Animal Hospital and the Animal Medical Center of Baytown to host a free microchipping opportunity for 50 pets in our community, plus a discounted microchip to an additional 25 pets! Our furry friends were in line and ready to go, with their human companions following behind on leash!

We had small dogs and large dogs, young felines and old, youngins and seniors, hairy and almost hairless, pure breeds and mixes! No matter what the size, type, or breed, no matter feline or canine, we chipped them!

As a result of this charitable opportunity and local partnership, 75 more dogs and cats have a significantly greater chance of returning to the comfort of their home if they were to escape or become lost.

Stuff happens; pets get loose! But, what actions are you taking to ensure that your pet is recovered, and returns home, when lost? Learn more about our microchipping program! 

A big thank you goes out to O'Banion Portraiture for capturing all of the smiles, wagging tails, and biscuit-making feline faces!

Recover Your Love

Jay Garrett

On February 13th, A Life to Live partnered with Abshier-Meuth Animal Hospital and the Animal Medical Center of Baytown to host a free microchipping opportunity for 50 pets in our community. With it being Valentines Day weekend, what better way to show your love for your furry companion than to attend the "Recover Your Love" free microchipping event?!

Well, the community definitely showed their love! Over one hundred people gathered in line outside of Petco in Baytown early Saturday morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed (the humans, not the pets)! Residents started lining up as early as 7AM, with their canine and feline companions in hand, to take advantage of this charitable opportunity!

At 9AM, the doors opened and we started taking in pets, 8-12 legs at a time! By 10AM, our partnering veterinary team had successfully microchipped 50 pets! Furry friends in our community came in and out with tails-a-waggin'! We had small dogs and large dogs, puppies and seniors, hairy and almost hairless, pure breeds and mutts! No matter what the size, type, or breed, we chipped them!

As a result of this opportunity, 50 more dogs and cats have a significantly greater chance of returning to the comfort of their home, with loving owners, if they were to escape or become lost. Stuff happens; pets get loose! But, what actions are you taking to ensure that your pet is recovered, and returns home, when lost?

Throughout the year, we offer residents in our community with the opportunity to participate in free microchipping events through our Chip To Save Program! A microchip is a permanent ID for your pet; it cannot fall off, weather or be removed. A microchip that is registered and up to date with accurate contact information can save your pet's life! Through our partnerships with local veterinarians, like Abshier-Meuth and the Animal Medical Center of Baytown, we administer and register microchips at these sponsored events at no cost to the resident. We offer this unique opportunity to 1) help owners recover their lost pet, 2) decrease the number of pets being killed in local shelters, 3) free up kennel space in local shelters for animals that are truly homeless, 4) decrease the amount of tax-payer's money spent on euthanasia, and 5) decrease the chances of an owner's stolen pet from being "re-homed" or sold.

Visit our #ChiptToSave Page for more information on how you can get your pet chipped! Or, sponsor or donate towards our next event and help us recover pets and save more lives! #ChipToSave #ALifeToLive #AdoptToSave #SponsorToSave #SupportToSave #SupportLocal

All photography for this event was courtesy of our amazingly talented partnering photographers, and animal lovers, O'Banion Portraiture!

We Ate Wings and Raised Funds

Jay Garrett

Our local Baytown Buffalo Wild Wings hosted a "Eat Wings. Raise Funds" Fundraiser for A Life to Live on May 15th and 16th of 2015 in an effort to fund the saving of more lives! We gathered with family, friends, volunteers and several supporters for a night of wings and fun benefitting the animals! 

"We give A Life to Live our complete and total support here at Buffalo Wild Wings in Baytown, Texas. That's why we have partnered up to host a fundraising event on Friday and Saturday, May 15th and 16th of 2015, to show our love and support! Come out and mention that you're dining-in to help support A Life to Live! A portion of your check will go towards helping some wonderful animals!" - Buffalo Wild Wings - Team Baytown 270

In June 2015, Buffalo Wild Wings in Baytown presented us with a check for $310.00 of funds raised during this event! With this donation, we were able to feed, vaccinate, microchip and provide heartworm preventative for a few of the Adoptables in our program! A big, "THANK YOU!" to everyone that supported this fundraiser!

Photography For A Cause

Jay Garrett

Amy O'Banion Photography partnered with us early this year with a goal to capture the lives and personalities of our Adoptables on camera. Through this effort, they have provided us with quality images of these animals that has inevitably led to numerous successful adoptions. In addition to offering their time and talent, they have also helped support a variety of fundraisers and volunteered at many adoption events. The passion that this company, this family, has for animals and their well being is comforting. Their love and passion is inspiring, and we are incredibly blessed to have them as a Partner

Amy and Cliff recently opened their studio to host a creative event to benefit A Life to Live. They invited families to schedule mini sessions for them and their pets to snap memories that would last a lifetime. They had a variety of toys, noises, treats, and blankets to spike different emotions and reactions that they could capture. The families and pets had an awesome experience and they went home with a number of loving and unforgettable images!


As a result of the "Pet Mini Sessions" Fundraiser, Amy O'Banion Photography presented A Life to Live with a $300 donation, 50% of the proceeds of the fundraiser. With the money received, we were able to spay, microchip and completely vaccinate one of the adult dogs in our Foster Program. It's because of partnerships, companies, families, and individuals like this that we are able save lives! Thank you Amy, Cliff, Jordyn and Erin for your support!