AUSTIN (KXAN) — Charlie Crenshaw has earned the nickname “The Dog Whisperer of Balcones” after finding three puppies at a golf course in the past month.
“I don’t know how I find myself at the right place at the right time with these dogs,” Crenshaw said.
Crenshaw, who works as a golf instructor at the Balcones Country Club, said he found the first dog running near U.S. Highway 183 in December. Crenshaw said he whistled and the dog came running toward him.
“He immediately just turned, looked at me and just ran right into my arms,” he said. “It was like he and I were just meant to be.”
Photos of the dog were shared on social media and the dog and its owner were quickly reunited.
Two more dogs were found in recent weeks. One was found near the country club early one morning as nearby traffic was getting heavy. The other was found under a van across the street from the country club.
Neither dog had a collar or microchip, Crenshaw said. Luckily, they were able to find new homes for each pup within the day thanks to help from country club members.
“To me, it’s just picking the dog up and taking it to a place where it’s safe,” he said. “The real heroes in the story are the members of this club that are so quick to respond to these posts that I put out.”
Crenshaw said his message to others is to find other avenues before dumping animals that you can’t handle. It’s not certain if any of these dogs were dumped, but he said there have been more animals found near the country club in the last two years.
Austin Animal Center, the city’s no-kill shelter, previously told KXAN it cannot track the number of “dumped” animals unless there is a witness. But it does track animals as “demonstrably abandoned,” including animals left tied up, witnessed to be dumped out of a car or similar situations.
The shelter has taken in 268 abandoned animals so far in 2023, including 192 dogs. The shelter took in over 300 animals in the past two years.
An AAC spokesperson said many people make assumptions that an animal is “dumped” but usually the animal is lost from its home.
Animal cruelty, including abandoning an animal, is a felony in Texas with an up to $10,000 fine and up to two years in jail, according to the SPCA of Texas.
The Austin Animal Center is restricting intake to emergencies only due to overcapacity issues. The shelter said abandoned animals are taken in until they are reunited with an owner, fostered, adopted or transferred to a rescue partner.
“We’re seeing that the environment has changed for pet owners and the economy has made it more difficult to provide the necessary care for pets,” Mary Brown, the shelter’s manager who oversees the Pet Resource Center, said in a statement. “We have these hard conversations with the public at our Pet Resource Center daily and try to avoid dumping of animals at all costs, but there are times when people feel they have no other option.”
Pet Resource Center staff members speak with customers to discuss their situation and provide resources to keep the pet in their home whenever possible, Brown said. These situations include helping people through tough times or helping someone keep a stray until the animal is reunited with its owner.
What to do if you find a lost animal?
If you come across a lost animal, AAC recommends a few steps before taking it to Austin Animal Center.
- Look at lost pets reported missing online.
- Text “foundatx” to (844) 764-2125 for tips on the family-finding process.
- Take the animal to a local vet clinic or emergency pet hospital to scan for a microchip in the pet.
- Create a “Found Report” online.
- Post the pet on social media, like Austin Lost and Found Pets, Nextdoor and Craigslist, to reconnect the pet with an owner.
As a last resort, the animal can be brought to the Austin Animal Center’s Pet Resource Center where people can get help to keep the pet while looking for the owner. Intakes are restricted to emergencies currently.