Texas Drops the Gravel on Pet Abuse

September 28, 2011 by · 1 Comment 


By Tia Gannon

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 


By Katie Simpson

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

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.

Burst the Bubble Blog: Market Center Sample Sale Preview

November 12, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Post by Elizabeth Lowe

Burst the Bubble presents a sneak peek at the annual Dallas Market Center Sample Sale, happening Nov. 12-14. Once ‘Stangs get through some of the more over-the-top, gaudy, and a little too bling-y booths, there are plenty of gems to be found.

Step outside the Bubble this weekend and do a little holiday shopping on the cheap. Of course, you can always go to find a little something funky for yourself. Shopping agenda or no shopping agenda, it’s a Dallas holiday classic that’s worth experiencing.

Definitely worth checking out are the shoe sample sales and pre-owned furs. Some are a little ridiculous, like shawls with the fox’s head still attached and taxidermied, but others seem to be on-trend with this year’s fur look. Think Chanel Fall-Winter 2010 – head to toe fur anyone?

If you’re the crafty type, there are several booths for beading and jewelry material. The prices are so low that I considered taking up a new hobby and creating my own necklaces. Not to mention some of the beading and stones are out of sight.

Outside of the fashion realm, shoppers can peruse booth after booth of home goods and holiday decorations. There’s also a booth in the center of the market solely dedicated to toys. Which one you decide to shop at may be very telling of your current college mindset: revisiting childhood or prepping your independent space?

After looking at all the material goods I’m assuming we don’t “need,” it’s nice to pay a visit to the Salvation Army Angel Tree in the center of Market Hall.
Each angel on the tree is a different child in the Dallas area that could use a little extra spirit this holiday season, be it a new coat or an electronic game. Pick up an angel and you could even shop for the child on-site. Giving back to the greater Dallas community -now that’s bursting the Bubble.

Burst the Bubble Blog: DFW Halloween Attractions

October 27, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Post By Elizabeth Lowe

Home to the likes of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” Texas houses several tip-top and nationally recognized Halloween attractions. A few of which can be found right here in Dallas-Fort Worth.

If you’re looking for something more thrilling than trick-or-treating in the Highland Park this weekend, step outside the Bubble for Halloween scares.

These attractions should top your Halloween must-see list while living in the DFW:

Cutting Edge Halloween House

Everything is bigger in Texas – even our haunted houses. This is the grandaddy of them all, located about 40 minutes down I-30 in Fort Worth.
Cutting Edge holds the Guiness World Record for “World’s Largest Walk Through Haunted House.”
What does that mean for thrill seekers? Well, there’s no escaping these thrills once you’ve entered. After you pay the $29.50 admission pass (or the $49.50 “speed pass” to skip the wait), you’ve committed to a long walk through ghostly and gruesome scares.

Hell House

This is not your ordinary Halloween attraction, nor one that you’ll hear advertised in the daily paper.
Located at the Trinity Assembly of God, right outside of downtown Dallas, this Halloween attraction brings a moral frame to the all-candy-and-costume holiday.
Many people may have heard of this attraction through the 2001 documentary titled “Hell House.” Not ringing a bell? Add this to your Netflix queue immediately.
The documentary follows the Trinity Assembly of God’s preparation process and eventual execution of their annual Halloween walk-through attraction. Scenes in the Hell House include a death from AIDS, tragedies from drunk driving, and a 9/11 terrorist horror. One of the most controversial moral scenes involves the performance of a late abortion including buckets of fake blood and dramatic portrayls of guilt.
For those not a part of the Hell House tradition, this Halloween attraction is out of control and highly controversial. But for members of the congregation, it’s an annual “come-to-Jesus” event.
The New York Times has described this Texas attraction as “carnivalesque.”

SCREAMS Halloween Theme Park

Yes, you read that correctly – a Halloween theme park.
Located in Waxahachie, TX this park features 5 walk-through attractions like the “Death Trap Maze” and the “3D Pirates of Peril.”
For $24.99, general admission gets you into the park and access to all the attractions – plus multiple concession stands if you can stomach food after the scares.
Other than the original five attractions, there is a “special attraction” called “The Realm of the Beast.” SCREAMS describes visitors as the “prey” in this attraction – clearly this is only for the true thrill seekers.

So step out of the Bubble and experience the best scares the DFW has to offer if you dare. However there’s no shame in dressing up in costume to stay home, snack on candy, and watch “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” either.
Happy Hauntings!