Texas Drops the Gravel on Pet Abuse

September 28, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

BEYOND THE BUBBLE

By Tia Gannon
tgannon@smu.edu

Domestic violence not only affects the people in a household. Often the four-legged members are victims of abuse and neglect as well. Now, furry family companions are covered under Texas’ new pet protective order law.

Pets, companion animals and assistance animals are protected along with their owners under protective orders. They may not be removed, harmed or threatened by an abuser. Violators of a protection order involving an animal will receive a misdemeanor for a first offense and felony for two or more violations.

The new law went into effect on September 1, 2011, making Texas the 23rd jurisdiction in the United States able to legally include pets as a member of the family.

About 70 percent of domestic violence victims who seek shelter report abuse inflicted on their animals as well, according to Domanick Munoz, supervisor of Dallas Animal Services, who specializes in animal cruelty. Munoz believes this law is long overdue.

A Dallas man recently tossed his girlfriend’s dog out of a 19th floor apartment window following a heated argument. A security guard reported seeing the women with a bruised face and bloody lip. The dog was found the following morning on the apartment pool deck 11 floors below.

Local Animal Rights attorney Yolanda Eisenstein has encountered numerous cases of animals being abused in a home where domestic violence is occurring. She recalls a story a few years ago when a Dallas man tossed his girlfriend’s dog off of an overpass onto a busy highway below.

Eisenstein hopes the new law will result in increased awareness and education so that people can protect their animals as well as themselves and their children in abusive situations. Family lawyers need to be educated on this law so that they can enforce it when necessary, she said.

One of the leaders in getting the law passed was Robert “Skip” Trimble, treasurer of the Texas Humane Legislation Network. The organization lobbies on behalf of animals.

The network looks to the “boots on ground,” Trimble said. They are the first responders who let them know what is going on with the animals in the community. Many times a family pet is used as a lever by an abuser to gain dominance over their victims.

“We hear of all sorts of horrific things happening to animals that it is hard to even believe,” said Trimble.

The Family Place is Dallas’ largest family violence help program, offering a wide range of services to both victims and perpetrators of family violence. The organization provides emergency shelters, counseling and other educational programs to adults and children.

Executive Director Paige Flink hopes that the new law will give people peace of mind that their pet will be protected if they need to leave an abusive situation.

Pet abuse is one of the primary red flags of an abusive situation. Flink explains that counselors at The Family Place often see a correlation between abusing animals and being abusive to family members or people they are dating. Perpetrators see abusing pets as a way to get back at the victim.

Although some victims’ shelters in the United States allow pets, many do not. According to the National Coalition against Domestic Violence, only one in eight domestic violence shelters allow pets. Rebecca Poling is the President and Founder of Companions for Life in Dallas, a non-profit organization formed to promote the welfare of animals through education and shelter outreach programs.

“Until domestic violence shelters start including animals I don’t see a long term solution. But this is a start,” said Poling.

There is a temporary boarding program called PetSafe in Houston. The program provides shelter, medical care and food for animals of families going into a shelter in order to escape an abusive situation. The Family Place is hoping to work with animal rights groups in creating a program where people can place their animals temporarily when leaving an abusive situation.

Mixed Feelings About Dallas’ Reduced Pet Adoption Fees

September 27, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

BEYOND THE BUBBLE

By Katie Simpson
ksimpson@smu.edu

Copper, 12-year-old Shih Tzu mix (Photo by Katie Simpson)

Copper, a 12-year-old Shih Tzu mix was boarded at East Lake Pet Orphanage in July. His owner had him scheduled for vaccinations and an annual exam during his stay at the clinic on Northwest Highway. Copper was to be picked up by his owner the next day. Nearly two months later, after several attempts to contact his owner, Copper is still sitting in his kennel. Since Copper is elderly, his chances of finding a new family grow slimmer every day.

Shelters like East Lake are becoming overly crowded, making it impossible to provide proper care to every animal. Authorities are often left with no other choice but to euthanize them. This overpopulation is largely due to the current economic troubles, say shelter workers.

“People will wait for as long as they can, but when it’s a choice between your kids and your pet, the pet’s got to go,” said Nicole Menaul, adoption counselor at East Lake Pet Orphanage.

In an effort to find more pets like Copper a loving home, the Dallas City Council approved a plan last month to selectively reduce adoption fees for senior citizens and older animals. Some animal advocates say this is a step in the right direction, but others question whether or not the strategy will actually benefit the animals. Menaul has mixed feelings about the new plan: “It will result in more pets getting adopted, but my concern is that by opening up adoption to a broader section of the community you are also opening it up to the people who can’t afford it to begin with,” she said.

The approved plan applies to senior citizens older than 65 and animals older than six. For dogs, the fee has dropped from $85 to $43, and for cats it has dropped from $55 to $27. The reduced fees also apply if you adopt more than one animal at a time.

According to the American Pet Products Association, $48.35 billion was spent on pets in the U.S. in 2010. Included in these costs were food, medicine, supplies, vet care, grooming and boarding.

“People have no clue of the costs, that’s why the dogs either end up not being taken care of, turned loose or returned to a shelter,” said Bettye Baker, executive director of Oak Hill Animal Rescue.

Sheer ignorance is another contributor to the high volume of animals in shelters, say officials. People aren’t aware that spaying and neutering their pets could easily prevent this problem.

“When cats and dogs run out of the house they mate, then the litters end up at kill shelters where the owners dump them off,” said Menaul.

Maddie, 5-month-old Terrier mix (Photo by Katie Simpson)


While shelters do their best to adopt out their animals, they are largely limited by the amount of space and resources available. According to the Humane Society of the United States, four million cats and dogs—about one every eight seconds—are put down in U.S. shelters each year.

“We can only help as many dogs as we have places,” says Melissa Worrell, President of Golden Retriever Rescue of North Texas.

GRRNT places its dogs in foster homes before finding them a permanent family. Therefore the number of dogs they can take in is limited to the number of foster homes available.

Spending over $650 per dog on medical expenses, Worrell says her group relies heavily on donations in order to provide its dogs with proper care.

Although the adoption process can be long and strenuous, many agree it is imperative in order to ensure that an animal goes to a good home.

“It’s not our intent to set the world on fire by the quantity of adoptions we do, but rather the quality of them,” says Baker.

Spencer Budde, proud owner of 4-year-old greyhound Katie, knows all too well how the process works. After going through online applications, reference checks, a home visit and dealing with unfriendly board members, Budde was finally able to take Katie home.

Katie, who spent the first part of her life as a racing dog, was originally fostered by one of Budde’s friends. Budde decided to adopt Katie shortly after meeting her.

Even though she says her experience was less than pleasant, Budde would still recommend adopting older dogs to others, especially for elderly people who want to skip the potty training.

“Most people want some form of a puppy,” said Budde, “but adopting an older dog is a good choice because it’s not as much of a lifetime commitment.”

“It is better to have a pet in a loving home than in a shelter to be euthanized,” said Menaul.

Get Your Caffeine Fix With A Side Of Local Art

May 5, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Elizabeth Erickson
eerickson@smu.edu

Coffee shops across Dallas seem to be adopting an eclectic atmosphere and drawing on local artists to create an environment that encourages community and inspires customers to grab another cup of joe.

Alan Geddie is the owner of the local Dunn Bros. Coffee in Addison. He says that having live music most nights of the week from local musicians and a hearty rotation of local artists’ work for sale decorating the walls sets a tone.

“I think it creates an ambiance for the customers and I think it’s a good thing for the artists so they can expose their wares on the walls. We just think it’s a nice touch,” said Geddie.

Geddie thinks it’s the experience that his customers walk away with that keeps them coming back for more coffee at Dunn Bros.

“I don’t think they come here, ‘Oh, there’s great artwork’ or ‘there’s great music.’ They come because of the coffee for one, but then for the experience,” said Geddie.

Working on a laptop at the high wooden table in the back corner of Dunn Bros. is Al Doyne, a frequent customer at the shop, who says he sometimes comes as many as three times each week. Doyne, said he enjoys Dunn Bros. because it is a peaceful atmosphere and there is less of a hum from people chatting than there is at Starbucks. He points out that the clientele of this shop is more professional and the whole atmosphere has a real serenity to it. But what Doyne really enjoys is the artistic expression present at Dunn Bros.

“I like the art. It’s different. He [Geddie] changes it a lot. You get the chance to see different types of art that you don’t even know is out there,” said Doyne.

MoKAH in Deep Ellum also saves a place for artists and musicians. It is owned and operated by a church, known as ‘Life in Deep Ellum.’

Jonathan Cortina, a Radio, Television, Film major at the University of North Texas worked at MoKAH for two years and emphasized the benefits that music brings to the MoKAH coffee bar.

“We’re trying to promote the community as a whole. Artists and local bands are going to definitely come in and support the whole venue,” said Cortina.

He adds that it isn’t just local bands that come and jam or local artists who put their work on the walls, but mainstream bands come to the venue to play and art shows, exhibits and wine tastings are held as well.

Jeremy Gaston is a local hip-hop artist who goes by the stage name Matta Fact who has performed at MoKAH and another local shop, Saxby’s.

“I think the beauty of being able to perform in coffee shops, even with acoustic set-ups, is transcending genres. You’re able to hear folk, pop, hip-hop, and it gives you a broader audience to be able to showcase your work to,” said Gaston.

Gaston says that the main motivation for many local artists performing in local shops is the exposure they gain.

“If you look at hip-hop and rap, they’re making mix-tapes. They hand it out wherever they can to get people to notice. It’s kind of their [local artist’s] mix-tape experience to get in these coffee shops and get exposure and play consistently.”

The support-the-local-artist concept is being adopted at a brand new establishment, The Collective, which is currently open in Carrollton but will have its official grand opening in late May.

Owner Andy O’Donnell sees The Collective as a place that can bring creatives together around common interests beyond just coffee.

“I wanted to integrate all of the other things that I like which are also art into one location: live art, painting, discussions, philosophy, activism, live musicians, fire dancing. The only kinds of art that I don’t take are duplicated art. It’s got to be all original and live and real,” said O’Donnell.

A large portion of The Collective is devoted to O’Donnell’s primary art form, tattooing. But with paintings scattering the walls and an opportunity for local musicians to perform music, it affords the tattoo parlor portion of the shop a greater opportunity to thrive because it increases the amount of traffic overall.

O’Donnell says that his primary motivation for giving artists the chance to experiment in The Collective’s space, is the opportunity to grow the way that he did. He says that learning to tattoo was an uphill battle because it’s a “closed industry,” where less is taught to prevent people from getting better. He feels that if he creates a place for people to have an outlet to experiment and learn their creative practices, it will benefit everyone.

“If everyone just works together, the world will be a better place. I’m trying to just gather talents to let them work and use each other to become stronger,” said O’Donnell.

Beyond the Bubble Staff Directory

March 19, 2011 by · Comments Off 

BEYOND THE BUBBLE

Beyond the Bubble Fall 2011 Staff Directory

Editor
Anna Kiappes
akiappes@smu.edu

Senior Web Designer
Andrew Goodson
agoodson@smu.edu

Staff Writers
Victoria Ahmadi
vahmadi@smu.edu

Nick Cains
ncains@smu.edu

Tia Gannon
tgannon@smu.edu

Sydney Giesey
sschmidt@smu.edu

Brooks Igo
bigo@smu.edu

Grace Roberts
groberts@smu.edu

Lauren Scheinin
lscheinin@smu.edu

Meghan Sikkel
msikkel@smu.edu

Katie Simpson
ksimpson@smu.edu

Ashley Withers
awithers@smu.edu

Katie Day
kday@smu.edu

Shelby Foster
slfoster@smu.edu

Andy Garcia
atgarcia@smu.edu

Kate Gardner
kateg@smu.edu

Christine Jonas
cjonas@smu.edu

Molly McKone
mmckone@smu.edu

Katharina Marino
khmarino@smu.edu

Lara Mirgorod
lmirgorod@smu.edu

Jared Monmouth
jmonmouth@smu.edu

Alexandra Sisto
asisto@smu.edu

Ashley Stainton
astainton@smu.edu

Essete Workneh
eworkneh@smu.edu

More Families Take Shelter at Shelters

March 10, 2011 by · Comments Off 

BEYOND THE BUBBLE

By Anna Kiappes
akiappes@smu.edu

From the economy to mental illness, many mothers are turning to homeless shelters to provide a safe place for their kids.

Jordanay Spears is on the honor roll at her school, she loves Justin Bieber and painting her nails. She seems like a typical 12 year-old girl, but Jordanay lives with her mom at the Austin Street Centre, a homeless shelter in downtown Dallas.

“This place has been really good for me to keep something stable in my daughter’s life,” Lisa Spears, who is in her early 40’s, said in an interview at the shelter recently.

Spears and her daughter are part of a rising number of families living at homeless shelters. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Annual Homeless Report to Congress, about 170,000 families were homeless in 2009, up 6.9 percent from 2008. And those numbers are expected to rise. The report also describes a majority of these families as households headed by a single woman, usually a minority, with two or three kids.

“In general, women especially single women end up moving from the middle class/working class to poverty after a divorce or death of a spouse,” Camille Kraeplin, a professor of Journalism that studies women’s issue said. “These women are already on the edge and add the economy and they are pushed over the edge.”

For many of the women at Austin Street Centre, numerous contributing factors bring them in. According to Director of Women’s Services Carisa Austin, a large percent suffer from come in with chronic mental illness, or have been a victim of domestic violence, or hit hard by the recession.

“For each individual, there maybe different things that brought them to this point,” said Austin.
To make a better life for their kids, many women have left their friends and family behind to go to different states to find jobs.

“I was in a homeless situation in California and I lost my job in California,” Spears, a single mom, said. “I looked for six or seven months for a job and they were closing everything because of budget cuts.”

Along with her husband and two sons, Chresha Talley, another mother at Austin Street Centre, moved twice from Ohio before finally settling her family at Austin Street.

“Back home there was nothing, no jobs. We first went to Mississippi and that didn’t work out,” Talley said. “We met a guy there and he told us my husband could get a job here.”

According to the Homeless Assessment report, 12.1 percent of homeless people were victims of domestic violence, and 33.9 percent were chronic substance abusers. The Centre hopes to change these statics with Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and other support groups. The Centre’s main goal is to help women break out of the homeless cycle.

“The ultimate goal is for them to reenter the greater community and have the tools to stay and not recycle through,” Austin said.

Many families return the to shelter more than once like Talley and her family.

“Since we’ve been back in the shelter it’s been very stressful on them,” Talley said. “Since it’s been stressful on them, it’s been stressful on me.”

In some cases, women disassociate or block memories of abuse, so they do not have to deal with their problems. To help the women confront issues like these, Austin Street has a contract with a local psychiatrist to come talk to the women.

“You wouldn’t want to dump all their burdens on the table,” Austin said.

To help cope with the different side effects that come from stress like depression, Austin Street Centre uses a one-on-one process to teach parents skills like time outs and taking away privileges instead of corporal punishment.

“Parents are already stressed out because they are starting with nothing,” Austin said. “We don’t want that stress coming out in spanking.”

There were six kids staying at the shelter recently. For kids like Jordanay, the typical day starts with a bus picking them up at 7:30 and spending the rest of the day at school and then an afterschool program before the bus drops them back off at the shelter to do their homework. For moms like Spears and Talley, the most important thing is to keep their kids occupied.

“It’s important to get out sometimes,” Spears said. “Like Sunday, Jordanay and I spent the day at our church just to get away.”

The shelter also works with families to make events special for the kids. For example, Jordanay turned 12 on Feb. 18, so the shelter celebrated her birthday with a party and cake after she got back from school.

The playground at Austin Street Centre (Photo By Anna Kiappes/Beyond the Bubble)

“If we know it’s your birthday we try to make it special, not just any other day,” Austin said.

Talley and Spears spend most of their days in the shelter while their kids are in school. Both families are in the day program, which is open to the disabled, elderly, and those with children. Currently Spears is helping out at the facility by cleaning the restrooms and showers during the day, while also looking for work outside the shelter. Talley and her husband are also spending their days looking for work, but are thankful for the roof over their heads.

“The most rewarding thing to me is not being in the street and not in the cold,” Talley said.

According to the Homeless Assessment Report, the large number of families in shelters shows the ongoing effects of the recession. Based on the 6.9 percent increase from 2008 to 2009, those numbers will most likely rise.

“I don’t see it getting better for these women anytime soon. That’s why if you really want these women to survive it’s to help them,” Kraeplin said.

For many families, the average stay depends on the individual. It can be anywhere from a few days to six months. For Spears, she is hoping that her situation will end soon and she and Jordanay can move on.

“To finally get into a job and move into my own place,” Spears said.

VIDEO: Out Of The Loop Fringe Festival Kicks Off in Addison

March 4, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Andy Garcia
atgarcia@smu.edu

VIDEO: WaterTower Theatre from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

The Out Of the Loop Fringe Festival is now in full swing at WaterTower Theatre in Addison.

Over 20 different acts from across the nation are performing throughout the next nine days.

Last night’s opening acts included Faye Lane’s Beauty Shop Stories. Lane will also be providing a playwriting/storytelling workshop on Saturday at 12:30 pm.

Tickets for performances range from $10 to $20.

Beyond The Bubble: A Teacher Making A Difference

October 25, 2010 by · Comments Off 

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Beyond the Bubble
By Christina Clark
christinac@smu.edu

Terms like molar mass, di-aluminum trioxide, and ionic compounds were being bandied about in Deborah Maner’s high school classroom one recent Friday morning. Students were eagerly discussing the empirical formula and quickly sketching compounds on the board.

“There is nothing more beautiful than watching students do chemistry,” Maner said. Her manner is infectious, say her students. Her love of chemistry is evident; she squeals when her students get an answer right, and she has no problem if they turn in homework that is wrong.

”You can’t learn if you don’t try…and fail.”

Deborah Maner is a four-time award-winning teacher, an educator for over 30 years, and an innovator in the Dallas Independent School District. She is also a self-proclaimed “tough” teacher, which is exactly what the Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Magnet Center was looking for when they plucked her from her first teaching job in inner-city Detroit.

Maner was awarded the Texas Instruments’ TI Foundation 2010 Innovations in STEM Teaching Awards on Aug. 31. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The award included $10,000; half of which was to be used in the school, and half of which was personal.

Deborah Maner received the award from Sam Self, chairman of the TI Foundation board of directors. (PHOTO COURTESY FLICKR)

With the prize money from the TI award, Maner painted her house and took a trip to Michigan to see her family. She gave $2000 to the school to start up a digital electronics program and buy circuit boards; a new part of the department that she says she is excited about because approval was not easy. With the other $3000, she went to a science convention.

“I’ve been an educator for 38 years, a principal for 27, and she is the best science teacher that I have ever seen,” said her principal, Michael Satarino, who nominated her for the award. This is Townview’s third STEM award. The first two went to Dr. Rebecca Jenson for physics and statistics, and to Dr. Glen Martin for computer science.

At Townview, Maner is the TAG Science Department Chair, teaches AP chemistry, Pre-AP chemistry, Pre-AP physics, leads the robotics team, and heads Academic Decathalon, or AcDec. She also fills in for Principal Michael Satarino if he cannot be in the office for whatever reason.

Talented and Gifted (TAG) programs have changed, said Maner. Students in the program used to be known as the “misfits,” but now it is more of an AP program. She says the change has come about because there is “more of a quest for higher education…more students are wanting to go to Ivy League schools.”

At Townview, students are considered Talented and Gifted if they take any AP- or Pre-AP classes.

Maner’s other favorite area of leadership is heading the robotics team. She says it’s important for the kids to learn problem solving—in science and elsewhere—and teamwork, both valuable lessons that they will use the rest of their lives. She enjoys the fact that they are getting some minor engineering experience along with some “educational failing” if they don’t do so well in competitions. “It’s not a manner of winning,” she always says.

One of her best competition memories involved a smoking robot, some last minute rewiring, and a kid going to the state competition.

As the team was setting up at RoPro, UT Arlington’s robotics competition, their robot started hissing and smoking, a problem they thought they had solved in the late hours at the school the night before. One team member, without asking or really seeming to think, dashed in there and started ripping the thing apart. Maner, along with the rest of the team, was in stunned silence as the student reassembled the entire robot in minutes. Everyone was shocked when it turned on and started functioning properly. That student ended up going to state that year for robotics and engineering.

Daniel Bravo, a former student of Maner’s, holds a special place in her heart. When Maner was teaching at W.T. White TAG in North Dallas in the 1990’s, Bravo was her “street kid from San Francisco.” He felt comfortable spending six hours a day in her class, because in school, he couldn’t get along with anyone – he was constantly starting fights and always in the principal’s office.

One day she was walking by his desk and saw two words written and circled on a piece of paper— “Mom” and “MIT.” When asked about the meaning, Bravo said that the only two things he wanted were for his mom to see him graduate and go to MIT so she would be proud of him.

Two years later, he walked the stage at W.T. White’s graduation with a diploma and a scholarship to MIT. His mother was cheering in the front row.

Maner has been a science lover since the age of three, and has always wanted to share that passion with others. She remembers her first science experiment in her grandmother’s backyard in Detroit, wanting to anesthetize and study the bees she was forbidden to touch. She killed them with the gases and buried them in the garage.

In school, Maner took all the science classes she could. To further her education, she eventually graduated from three universities with over 190 academic hours, four minors, two majors, and one certification. She has enough credits for a Ph.D., but says of all her credits (from areas of study in biology, chemistry, general sciences, English, history, psychology and talented and gifted teaching) are “too jumbled” to sort out.

Her favorite part about teaching is the students, she says with a smile. Her first teaching job was in Ann Arbor, Mich, where she was a student teacher for high school sophomores.

“My heart started racing when I saw them all,” she said. “They were so cute!”

Maner wanted to be a school counselor, but, after student teaching, she says, she knew she wanted to be a high school teacher.

Her students agree that her classroom is a fun place to learn and that her energy makes them enthusiastic about the subject. Because they are under 17, their last names cannot be used.

“She manages to command respect while still having a good time,” said Liam M.
“She is really fun and light hearted,” said Vincent T. “She is infectious and always has a fun class.”

“She absolutely believes that there is no student who won’t love chemistry after leaving her room,” said her principal.

Maner isn’t looking to leave Townview any time soon. Her next job, she says, is retirement.

“She is a talented and a gifted teacher,” said her principal. “It would take two, no, three teachers to fill her spot.”

Putting The Brakes On Repair Bills

October 21, 2010 by · Comments Off 

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By Bridget Bennett
brekow@smu.edu

On a recent steamy fall afternoon, Michelle Owens is waiting patiently in her pink polo and sparkly flip-flops at a North Dallas AutoZone. The 27-year-old assistant insurance broker is buying a new starter for her 2004 Ford Explorer.

Owens will be taking her recent purchase to a man who runs a neighborhood shop down the road.

“It’s the kind of place where you have to roll up with the windows up, doors locked, and mace in hand—but hey, anything to save a buck,” Owens said while swinging what appeared to be a Burberry purse by her side.

There are nearly 15 million unemployed people in the U.S., according the Department of Labor. Many more are underemployed. And just about everyone seems to be looking for ways to save money.

A customer figures out what parts to buy outside a North Dallas AutoZone. (PHOTO BY BRIDGET BENNETT / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

From interviews with customers at auto stores around Dallas, it appears that some Dallas residents have found a way to save money by skipping the repair shop to tinker way in their own garages. Or in some cases, they are finding friends, neighbors, or family members who can do the job for less.

Robert Knapp, the 30-year owner of Quick Stop Auto Shop on Northwest Highway, said basic maintenance items like hose replacements, oil changes, or air filters are often done by the consumer instead of the repair shop.

“People are just trying to save as much money as possible,” Knapp said.

When the automatic locks on Dallas oil broker John Kelly’s 2003 Volvo S60 broke, he went straight to Google for the solution. From there he bought the parts, found directions and instructions videos, and made a list of the necessary tools.

Kelly was able to fix the electrical problem in the car door himself for a total of $30, compared to what he said would have cost at least $250 at a repair shop. Because it was so inexpensive, he decided to change the part in all of the doors.

“The first time I did it, it took a while,” Kelly said. “Then I figured out how to get in there pretty well.”

Owens said she is less about hands-on work herself and more about finding someone who can fix it for less. She said one of her secrets is pulling up to an auto-parts store and opening the hood. Owens says there are a lot of people that wait outside auto stores looking for work.

“They will tell you what part to buy and then they’ll fix it right in the parking lot,” Owens said.

Patricia Garcia, an AutoZone customer service specialist in West Dallas, said she has seen an increase in sales to non-mechanic customers over the last two years. But according to Garcia, most people have no idea what they are doing.

Garcia described one customer who came in looking for an oil filter. She said he had never changed the oil before, but thought he could do it on his own.

“He asked a lot of questions,” Garcia said.

Knapp said he also gets frequent phone calls from people trying to do their own repairs. He said he always offers advice. But he hopes that if customers find they can’t fix the problem or have made things even worse, they will bring in their vehicle for professional servicing.

Knapp tells the story of a customer who had replaced the brakes on his own car, but was having trouble with the pedal sticking. Knapp offered his advice and said they could fix it at the shop. The customer said he wanted to try and fix it on his own.

“He drove out of the shop and right into a poll across the street,” Knapp said.

Knapp also warned that many of the tools auto mechanics use can be very dangerous if the user doesn’t know how to properly operate the tool.

“A few people come in here with busted lips after renting tools and using them the wrong way,” Knapp said.

Knapp suggested that anything internal on the engine should not be done at home because of the potential dangers for both the do-it-yourselfer and the car.

Dimitri Tishlias, the owner of a Dallas limousine and car service company, said when it comes to his cars, he always leaves it to the professionals. Tishlias said that even during a recession he would never try to fix something on his own.

But for people like Michael Brister, a graduate student studying at Southern Methodist University, at-home car care is more than just saving money. He said it’s about making sure the job is done right. Brister said he just cannot rationalize paying for something that he can do himself.

“Unless I’ve got a lot more money than I do now,” Brister admitted.