KXAN employees adopt fur-ever friends

Clear the Shelters

Will Lilly be a good girl and stay out of the mud? (Photo Courtesy: Erin Cargile)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Several members of the KXAN team who have given furry babies a forever home want to encourage you to “Adopt, don’t shop.”

Beyond having a furry friend to love and care for, they say adopting is absolutely worth it every time, not just to save the lives of their pets but their own.

And, what better way to find your next fur child than teaming up with KXAN as they partner with Austin-area animal centers to “Clear the Shelters.” The annual adoption drive is happening on Aug. 17 and shelters will waive or discount adoption fees in an effort to save pets’ lives.

Read more about KXAN’s very own fur babies below!

‘There’s no reason to look anywhere else’

Between Chris Davis and his fiance, Jill, they’ve managed to adopt three fur family members. “Kennels are always so full of cats and dogs who just need a chance that there’s no reason to look anywhere else,” Davis said.

Davis adopted his first cat when he was in college from a friend who was working at a veterinarian’s office in Virginia. Bear was abandoned as a kitten and as soon as he was done bottle-feeding, Davis took him home so he wouldn’t end up in a shelter.

Almost 10 years later, he’s gone with Davis to Wyoming, South Dakota, Waco, Pennsylvania and now to Austin. He’s good at getting their attention when he’s hungry, hiding in the dark and, of course, napping.

“Bear was such a comfort when I moved to Wyoming out of college and didn’t know anyone in my new town, and he’s been a great, if reluctant, travel companion around the country,” he said. “He’s been there for me whenever I needed him, whether he knew it or not.”

Jill adopted her own sweet orange cat, Franklin, who she immediately connected with at a shelter in Waco a few years ago. He’s named after the U.S.’ 32nd president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and enjoys wandering out of their yard and cuddling.

“When he’s in the back yard and Jill comes home, he’ll walk up to say hello, then roll over onto his back for pets, and it’s always the sweetest part of the day,” Davis said.

Pictured are Bear, Franklin and Jolene. (Photo Courtesy: Chris Davis)

The story about Jolene, their puppy, started when Davis and his fiance went together on a whim to Austin Animal Center while adoptions were free one May weekend. Jolene was a puppy at the time and had only been at the shelter for a couple of hours. “The excitement on Jolene’s face every second of every day shows us how lucky we are to have found such a friendly and loving pup, and her joy really rubs off on me, especially on the tough days,” Davis said.

Joleen is getting good at fetch, enjoys hikes and just learned that she does, in fact, like to swim!

Jolene stares blissfully into the sunset. (Photo Courtesy: Chris Davis)

“They’re all special because they don’t care what we’re going through, they just want us to know they’re here with us every step, no matter what,” he said.

‘It was the best decision I ever made’

Charlie thinking about the naps he could be taking. (Photo Courtesy: Kelly Lafargue)

Kelly Lafargue says she had just moved to a new place in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and desperately wanted a dog, but her landlord had a strict “no pets” policy. But, that didn’t stop KXAN’s promotions producer from getting Charlie in November 2008.

“I decided to get a cat because I figured they wouldn’t count as a pet, I guess,” said Lafargue, explaining that she’s always been a bit of a rule-breaker. “It was the best decision I ever made.”

It’s all about the angles. (Photo Courtesy: Kelly Lafargue)

“This little booger has no doubt saved my life. He’s gotten me through some of the toughest times in my life. As a long-time sufferer of depression, it’s nice to have a calming pet around to help lift my mood and ease any tension.”

Kelly Lafargue

Charlie is a fan of ear scratches, car rides and a good game of fetch and loves leafy greens. Lafargue says he greets her every evening at the door when she gets home.

Charlie enjoying one of his favorite pastimes. (Photo Courtesy: Kelly Lafargue)

‘Lilly is the love of my life’

KXAN’s investigative reporter Erin Cargile got her adorable pup, Lilly, from Brittany Spaniel Rescue right here in Texas about 8 years ago.

“We are the perfect match,” Cargile said. “We have so much fun getting out and about together checking out all the parks, creeks, trails and dog-friendly restaurants in Austin.”

Lilly celebrates Mother’s Day (dog moms count too) with Erin. (Photo Courtesy: Erin Cargile)

Lilly was dropped off at a shelter in Dallas along with her brothers and sisters and the spaniel rescue ended up putting her in a foster home, which is when Cargile came along looking for a dog!

“When I was thinking about getting a dog it was a no brainer for me to first look at shelters and rescue groups.  There are so many dogs waiting for their forever homes. I used to think when I lived in an apartment that I wouldn’t be able to give a dog a good home, but somebody once told me that’s better than the kennel at the shelter they’re sleeping in night after night. So true.”

Erin Cargile

‘I adore him’

Christopher Adams, one of KXAN’s assignment editors, got his cat, Zac, from a rescue in England back in 2007 when he was six months old.

“When we brought him home, it was the cutest thing ever,” Adams said. Apparently, he introduced Zac to his brother, Charlie, and they sat on opposite ends of the couch. “But Zac really wanted to meet him, so he kept inching closer and closer to Charlie until he was almost right on top of him.”

Two best buds. (Photo Courtesy: Christopher Adams)

When Adams’ family moved to Texas, there was no question about bringing Zac and Charlie. “They’re just as much a part of the family as me,” he said, adding that though Zac is skittish around new people, he loves him. “He lets me scratch his belly and carry him around over my shoulder.”

Zac’s favorite thing is getting scratches from one of Adams’ mom’s old hairbrushes — he can’t get enough of it — and he’s also a big fan of boxes.

Enjoy this photo of Zac getting in the Christmas spirit. (Photo Courtesy: Christopher Adams)

Zac will turn 12 on Sunday, July 28.

‘He has endless love to give’

Dobby joined reporter Yoojin Cho’s family when she and her husband, Jack, were living in western Massachusetts, but apparently, it’s not his first time in the Lone Star state.

Dobby was at a shelter in the Houston area when a nonprofit called Operation Pets Alive picked him and many other pups to be taken to New England. The nonprofit transports dozens of dogs at a time from overcrowded shelters in the south to the northeast where, Cho is told, they often have a better chance at getting adopted.

She said Dobby rode in a truck for several days and made his way to Dakin Humane Society in Springfield, Massachusetts. “We’re told while waiting for his ride, Dobby spent a few weeks in a loving foster home with dogs, cats and even a mini-mule,” Cho said.

Dobby arrived in Massachusetts in December 2013, which is when she and her now-husband decided they were ready to add a four-legged member to their family. When they went to look, shelter staff urged Cho and her husband to meet Dobby. “When we saw Dobby for the first time, he got so excited and we fell in love!” she said.

Since then, Dobby’s moved from Massachusetts to North Carolina, and now, for him, back to Texas — Cho’s home sweet home.

Dobby poses with his humans. (Photo Courtesy: Yoojin Cho)

“Sure, he barks when he’s hungry, when he’s too tired or when he’s bored, but he also has endless love to give. There’s nothing like an excited dog greeting you every time you walk in the door. I highly encourage everyone to adopt, don’t shop!”

Yoojin Cho

‘Adopted pets thank you with overwhelming amounts of love’

The story of Digital Content Producer Matt Prendergast’s loving cat, Brie, starts with a cat that his friend found on the street in 2013 and was given to him. Because Alphonse was just a kitten when Prendergast got him, they grew very attached to each other.

In winter of 2017, Prendergast’s now-wife decided Alphonse needed a friend, but the way he tells it is his wife was jealous of Alphonse’s affection toward Prendergast. That’s when they went to the ASPCA in Houston to look at kittens and found Brie.

They were afraid another couple was going to adopt her at first, but when the other people decided they needed more time to think, Prendergast and Alexis adopted her on the spot.

“You should adopt because the pets in shelters have so much more love to give,” Prendergast said. “Adopted pets thank you with overwhelming amounts of love.”

Brie and Alphonse relax on the couch. (Photo Courtesy: Matt Predergast)

Brie is named after the couple’s mutual love of cheese.

‘She’s been right beside me’

Nadine Bonewitz, one of KXAN’s producers, was overwhelmingly stressed and dealing with a lot of anxiety two years ago and said after a lot of thought she decided a dog would help give her some purpose, direction and regular exercise.

So she did her research and took off one morning with a list, ready to meet her potential fur baby.

Riley had a day… (Photo Courtesy: Nadine Bonewitz)

“Through Riley, I’ve learned that rescue dogs are truly grateful for a life outside of the shelter, and ready and willing to show that gratitude with tail wags, snuggles and lots of love. “

Nadine Bonewitz

For one reason or another, none of the dogs she picked out were a good fit for her or the apartment she was in at the time so she ditched her list and walked through the kennels at three different shelters. She still didn’t have any luck.

When Bonewitz was about to leave, she walked by one of the play yards and Riley ran up and put her paws on the fence. “She hadn’t been in her kennel when I made the rounds earlier, so I walked up to her to give her a couple of pets,” she said.

“I clicked with her immediately,” Bonewitz said. “I ended up bringing Riley home and she completely changed my life.”

“Is that a squirrel I see?” -Riley (Photo Courtesy: Nadine Bonewitz)

People at the shelter told Bonewitz that Riley was quiet and timid in the kennel when other dogs barked so most people didn’t give her much attention, but as soon as you gave her a little bit of space to run she was full of energy and lots of fun.

“She’s been right beside me every day for the last two years, always ready to listen to me vent, give me a much-needed break when there’s too much on my plate, go for a run or share a treat,” Bonewitz said. “She’s introduced me to new friends and helped me explore new places.”

‘They prove that past history doesn’t disqualify a dog from living a great life as a loving pet’

Alex Hoder, KXAN’s newest editor and photographer, adopted both of his puppies from Austin Pets Alive! He got Oliver in September 2015 and Lizzy in January 2016.

He said they were both found as strays and went to the shelter with conditions that would have typically disqualified them from getting a second chance. Oliver had heartworm, which is a completely treatable condition, and Lizzy was pregnant.

“Thanks to Austin’s no-kill policies, they were given the chance to become the best of friends!” Hoder said.

Oliver and Lizzy enjoying the great outdoors! (Photo Courtesy: Alex Hoder)

Both Oliver and Lizzy’s favorite activities include lounging in the sun, lounging on the couch, playing with each other and eating. He said even though they were adopted as adult dogs without much prior training or attention, they both are the sweetest and most loving dogs.

“They prove that past history doesn’t disqualify a dog from living a great life as a loving pet and that the saying is true: it is better to adopt and not shop!” Hoder said.

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