The holidays are a time for gift-giving and celebration but, for some, it's also a time of increased family and financial pressure. Some mental health health professionals say this pressure can lead to a spike in domestic violence. 

In Texas, domestic violence victims who find the courage to leave an abusive situation can now have their pets included in protective orders.

Patt Nordyke of the Texas Federation of Animal Care Societies fought for eight years to pass the law in the Texas legislature.

Preston Culver, Austin Fire Department

More than 120 pets have been brought in to the Austin Humane Society since the city's Halloween floods.

Some were rescued from the water – as seen in this photo of a dog rescue that’s been shared 7,700 times on Facebook. Others were dropped off by their owners, who need a safe place for their animals to stay while they get back on their feet.

Humane Society spokesperson Kelly Hanes says dozens of animals have been reunited with loved ones. But many others remain unclaimed – including Panda, the German Shepherd-type dog seen hugging an Austin firefighter as he carried her from the flood waters.

I-Hwa Chang for KUT News

More than 100,000  cats and dogs are euthanized every year in Texas shelters. Euthanasia by carbon monoxide – essentially a gas chamber –  is still common practice in nearly 30 shelters.  

Within the last five years, almost 30 Texas cities banned gas chambers, switching from carbon monoxide to lethal injection. Pennsylvania and Louisiana banned gas chambers statewide last year.

Joy Diaz, KUT News

With so many care options for the four-legged family members, how do you determine where to take yours for a check-up? There are high-end pet spas, plain vet clinics and everything in between. And still, there is a new player in the nearly saturated market.

One of the dogs at this clinic is Frida. She is blonde, tall and beautiful. But, according to her doctor’s report delivered by Mr. John, Frida has some weight problems. 

During our week-long casting call for public radio-loving pets, we received dozens of great entries from our listeners as well as (some furry) fans tuning in around the country. And while there were lots of cute critters submitted, the seven photos in the slideshow below are the National Pet Radio Contest finalists, which were selected by a panel of NPR judges.

Vote Now: Take a look through the images below, and vote on your pick to win by Sunday, Feb. 17, at 11:59 PM (ET).

Many of us here at NPR have pets or are animal lovers, and recently discovered that National Dress Your Pet Day is in January. We were inspired by this to ask you to show your appreciation for public media by accessorizing your pet.

To have a little fun with it, we want you to snap a picture of your pet listening to your favorite public radio station.

Austin is known as a dog friendly city. There’s dog parks, ample off-leash areas – heck, even the City Council passed an ordinance allowing dogs on outdoor restaurant patios.

And along with the local acceptance of dogs has come tolerance of the occasional accident. We’ve all seen them – on our front yards, exercise trails and even along the bottoms of our shoes.

Dogs can’t help it – it’s instinctual for them. Their owners, however, can. It’s their responsibility to tend to their animal's needs, little plastic bag in hand, so that when Fido finishes his business, no one else has to deal with the matter.

Unfortunately, some dog owners at The Pointe at Onion Creek, a small condominium complex in South Austin, haven’t been doing their due diligence. Now the home owners association is considering using DNA testing to find out which pooch is pooping and fleeing the scene.

Tim League is a pretty big deal in the movie business. He’s founder of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema – which in turn led to distribution arm Drafthouse Films. He also founded Rolling Roadshow and Fantastic Fest. But Tim League could soon be best known for his role as a judge in an internet cat video contest.

That’s right, internet cat videos. If you're one of the few humans left on earth unfamiliar with the concept, you can head over to a little website called YouTube and type in “cat.” You’ll get funny cats, funny cats in water, how to wrap a cat for Christmas and about 1.8 million others. Internet cat videos are big.

Just last month, Minneapolis hosted the first ever Internet Cat Video Film Festival. The idea was attributed to the Walker Art Museum’s “cat-lady-in-residence” but went on to draw an estimated 10,000 attendees. Internet cat videos are truly big time.

Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

Happy Labor Day! It will be a pretty hot one with an expected high of 100.

City of Austin Offices Closed – But Animal Center Open

It’s Labor Day and that means City of Austin offices are closed – as are recreation centers, senior centers and libraries.

But the Austin Animal Center is open today and is offering free adoptions. The center says they received lots of new pets in August but that adoptions were slow. It’s once again “severely overcapacity” and has no room for incoming animals. The free adoptions are being offered at the Austin Animal Center at 7201 Levander Loop and the Town Lake Animal Center at 1156 W. Cesar Chavez.

City pools, golf courses and tennis centers are also open today.

Trash and recycling collections will remain on schedule.

Photo by KUT News; Photo by Lizzie Chen for KUT News; Photo by D.Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty

Austin Animal Center Achieves 90 Percent Live Outcome Rate

The Austin Animal Center put down 10 percent of animals in May, achieving a 90 percent live outcome rate. That is up two percent from this time last year, but down one percent from April.

The shelter took in more than 2,237 animals last month, including hundreds of kittens. The shelter expects to be just as busy this month.

Photo by I-Hwa Chang for KUT News

The Austin Animal Center is seeking adopters for at least 40 pets today, May 15. The Animal Center will euthanize 23 dogs today if at least 40 pets do not find a home.

The Animal Center has taken in a large number of pets recently, but they haven’t seen an equal number of adoptions. Since last Friday, the shelter says it has taken in 36 animals, putting the total population at 1,046 pets with no more space. The Austin Animal Center’s population is at 58 (over capacity by 130), and the Town Lake Animal center is also at capacity.

Since February of 2011, the city-run shelter has maintained its "No Kill" policy by saving 90 percent or better of the animals taken in. But this year, if the adoptions don’t rapidly increase, the Animal Center could fail to meet this benchmark.

Image courtesy

Most City of Austin offices are closed this Presidents Day, but the Austin Animal Center is celebrating the holiday with an adoption special this “PAWSidents Day.”

Photo courtesy

The city-run Austin Animal Shelter has released intake, adoption and euthanasia data for the month of January. The Shelter had an overall “live outcome rate” of 92% (That’s the percentage of animals that were adopted, fostered, or otherwise cared for and not put down – a percentage in line with no-kill standards requiring a 90% or above live outcomes rate.)

A total of 1,133 cats and dogs were processed by the center in January, with close to half – 505 – adopted out by the city. 251 more pets were reunited with their owners, while another 288 animals were transferred out of the center for longer term care.

However, 83 animals were euthanized – 29 cats and 54 dogs. With dogs outnumbering cats in the shelter, that meant a 93% live outcome rate for dogs, and an 88% live outcome rate for cats.

Photo courtesy of the Town Lake Animal Center.

The Town Lake Animal Center is at capacity and has run out of space.

The shelter took in 30 cats in the first hour of business Friday morning. The cats are now temporarily being caged in offices. Animal workers say people this week have dropped off more pets than usual. The shelter took in close to 350 cats and dogs this week. 

TLAC sent a press release Saturday morning, asking people to reclaim lost pets at the shelter or to wait at least a week before turning over an animal:

Dogs at Town Lake Animal Center
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

To some people, New Year's Eve fireworks displays like this one are an awe-inspiring form of entertainment.

But to many cats and dogs, it sounds more like the end of the world.