‘BBQ 4 Good’: Help potentially save an Austin shelter animal’s life by eating local barbecue


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Barbecue is life for some Central Texans, and it could also save a life for many. In particular, ones with four legs.

Austin Pets Alive!‘s adoptions and fostering are near an all-time high during the COVID-19 crisis.

“They’ve shared our pets that need homes. We’ve managed to get long-stay dogs out, out of the door in numbers that we’ve never seen before. In April [2020], we had 27 long-stay dogs adopted. Our typical number is seven,” Austin Pets Alive! events manager Katera Berent said. “…But due to the pandemic, donations have slowed.”

Their thrift stores have been closed since the beginning of the outbreak, losing all of that revenue.

“In past years, in not pandemic years, we traditionally have in-person events, which are a huge source of fundraising revenue for us,” Berent said. “We have our thrift stores open and operating at normal capacities, and those really help us continue our mission and saving over 10,000 lives a year.”

It’s as expected though, Berent said.

“Understandably so, it’s really difficult people to give right now, you know, especially in Austin, we’re an hospitality-driven industry. There’s so many people here out of work and they don’t have the capacity to give like they normally do even if they want to.”

Luckily, a partner of APA!’s since 2011, Texas-based Merrick Pet Care has stepped in to offer some wallet relief for them through Austinites’ stomachs as well as their pets’.

The pet care company launched its “BBQ 4 Good” campaign Friday, June 26 to help APA!, and they’re not alone in the effort. They on-boarded east Austin’s la Barbecue for a very special role in the cause.

If you’d like to join the effort in Austin and help APA!, all you have to do is order food at la Barbecue. For each order, Merrick will make a $10 donation to APA! up to $10,000. Pet owners will also get special “doggy bags” for their pups at home, which includes the company’s BBQ recipes for dogs.

(Courtesy: Merrick Pet Care)

“It’s a win-win-win. You get barbecue, you get to help save a pet at APA!, and you get to bring something home for your own pet,” Berent said.

Overall, Merrick is offering new slow-cooked BBQ recipes for dogs for the summer campaign, which will go to thousands of shelter dogs, but they will also donate more than $50,000 to support animal charities across the country.

The matched donations to APA! will go directly to their life-saving programs for animals “who are most in need” such as “medical cases, ringworm cats, [feline leukemia] cats, behavior dogs, big dogs … which are traditionally euthanized,” Berent said.

Honestly, it’s hard to put in words a lot of the time, when you think about being involved in something that saves pet lives. I have a dog here that was going to be euthanized at a rural shelter and she’s everything to me, and so the fact that you can go and just order a plate of food and that will directly help save a life is, is wild… Austin has done a wonderful job in creating this sense of community and uplifting the pets in need… I’m just endlessly grateful to be a part of it.

Clem and Mueller with their dogs Lily, Zoe, and Mr. Oliver Pickles (KXAN Photo/Todd Bailey)

la Barbecue owner LeAnn Mueller, who owns two of her own, wouldn’t have said no to joining.

“I thought that was pretty much a no-brainer because I love dogs … That means the world to me. Any way we can save an animal, to help an animal, let’s just go for it.”

General Manager Alison Clem, who owns a rescue, agrees. For her, knowing the money is going to APA! means everything.

“We love animals. We try to donate as much time, as much as we can to Austin Pets Alive! This partnership is what we believe in… We also donate monthly to the ASPCA and we’re firm believers in loving and treating your animals as you would your child.”

The campaign runs from today till July 4. If you’d like to help in other ways, you can donate money and items to Austin Pets Alive! on the shelter’s website, as well as their thrift stores.

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