Loveable
long-stays

Meet a few of the Austin-area shelter animals struggling to find homes

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Imagine you’re furry and four-legged. That somehow, through no fault of your own, you ended up homeless. Then you landed in a shelter.

You gaze out of a cage every day, hoping for a permanent home, but nobody seems to notice you. You’re old. Or considered undesirable because of your breed. Maybe you need medical treatment, and that scares people away.

This story gets replayed at shelters all around Austin every day. We called four area facilities and asked them to introduce us to some of their favorite long-term-stay, overlooked animals.

Bacon-flavored treats and feather toys in hand, we met animals who’ve been penned up for as long as a year. We played with bouncy dogs and cuddled cats that wouldn’t stop purring.

Here are their stories. Can you adopt one?

Photo by Ralph Barrera

7 years; 60 pounds; adoption fee, $50

Gizelle bounds across the room and dives gleefully into a kids pool filled with bottles, sending empty Coke and water containers sailing. She twirls in a circle, burrows her head into the crackly pile, pops off a few caps and shivers with excitement.

Gizelle plays in a kiddie pool full of water bottles. Video by Pam LeBlanc

Gizelle plays in a kiddie pool full of water bottles. Video by Pam LeBlanc

But when it’s time for a photo shoot, Gizelle gets serious. She marches outside on a leash, glancing back to make sure someone’s following. She knows basic commands, like “sit,” “down” and “come," and is working on her Canine Good Citizen Program certification, which teaches dogs basic manners such as sitting politely for petting and behaving around other dogs.

But Gizelle’s been here too long, and visitors looking for a new dog always seem to walk past her kennel. Maybe it’s her senior citizen status. Or her part pit bull lineage. Many potential adopters mark the breed off their list because they mistakenly believe all pit bulls are aggressive.

Gizelle, a fawn-colored mixed breed dog who’s graying at the chin, gets along with all kinds of people — big and small, old and young, friend and stranger. She loves belly rubs, running and squeaky toys, and doesn’t mind wearing clothes (really!).

She spent about 300 days at the shelter in 2012, then was adopted for about two years. She was returned in late November, after her owners separated. She’d do best as an only pet, and she has some escape artist tendencies. She doesn’t do well at dog parks, either.


Find her: Austin Pets Alive Town Lake location, 1156 West Cesar Chavez St.; 512-961-6519; austinpetsalive.org


Photo by Ralph Barrera

Almost 2 years; 7 pounds; no adoption fee

It doesn’t take much to make friends with this gentle, green-eyed kitty, who purrs like a popcorn popper when you scratch her cheeks.

She came to the shelter with her brother in June, but when he got adopted she was left behind. She’s a friendly, well-behaved lap cat who looks like someone painted an off-center mustache on her nose.

Photo by Ralph Barrera

Photo by Ralph Barrera

But Luigi has feline leukemia, which causes a weakened immune system, and that’s made it hard for her to find a permanent home. She’s not contagious to people or dogs but should live only with other feline leukemia positive cats. Austin Pets Alive will pay for medical care related to her disease.

Luigi likes to chat and would be comfortable living with most dogs, cats and children. She likes toys — especially rolling ones.


Find her: Austin Pets Alive Town Lake location, 1156 West Cesar Chavez St.; 512-961-6519; austinpetsalive.org


Photo by Deborah Cannon

1 year, 9 months; 45 pounds; adoption fee, $75

Give Cynthia a ball to chase and she’ll scamper giddily after it, scooting around the yard like a soccer player aiming for a goal. She’s energetic, with a pink nose like a giant pencil eraser and a brown and white coat that feels like velvet.

At the moment, she wants to nuzzle everyone who walks into the lobby of the shelter where she’s holding court. The mutt arrived here as a stray more than eight months ago, and visitors seem to think she’s invisible. Look closer, though, and you’ll notice a broad smile. She’s a lover at heart.

Photo by Deborah Cannon

Photo by Deborah Cannon

She’d do best with someone who likes to run, but she’s strong and needs a harness lead. She should be an only pet and needs space to run and play. She has had basic obedience training.


Find her: Austin Animal Center, 7201 Levander Loop; 512-978-0500; austintexas.gov/department/animal-services


Photo by Deborah Cannon

7 years; 9 pounds; no adoption fee

This sophisticated gentleman wears a black tuxedo that sets off his gleaming white chest, whiskers and paws. He arrived at the shelter nearly a year ago, though, and so far no one’s appreciated his fashion sense enough to take him home.

He’s part of the shelter’s Desperate Housecats program, which tries to place older cats. (Adoption fees are waived for all senior pets!)

Photo by Deborah Cannon

Photo by Deborah Cannon

He can’t resist wand toys and loves to snuggle. He’s politely quiet, too. No one’s ever heard him meow — they’ve only heard him purr, which he likes to do as he buries his head in your arms.

His only issue? He’s got kidney disease, which means he eats a special kind of food. He shows no symptoms.

He’s comfortable living with friendly dogs and other cats.


Find him: Austin Animal Center, 7201 Levander Loop; 512-978-0500; austintexas.gov/department/animal-services


Photo by Ralph Barrera

Almost 7; 60 pounds; no adoption fee

This brindle-colored senior dog, possibly the world’s sweetest mutt, arrived at the shelter in early October after his owner could no longer care for him.

His tongue seems to work overtime, licking outstretched hands, and he sticks like a burr to the nearest human. His chin is starting to turn white, and his toes look like they’ve been dipped in cream. His hobbies include sunning himself and snuggling with his teddy bear. He’ll do anything for a bacon-flavored treat.

Bones interacts with a shelter volunteer. Video by Pam LeBlanc

Bones interacts with a shelter volunteer. Video by Pam LeBlanc

Bones is heartworm positive, and his adopter will have to pay for his treatment, which means he’ll need to be confined for 30 to 60 days.

He’ll do best as a companion for someone who is retired or has time to spend with him. He craves human companionship but doesn’t get along with cats.


Find him: Bastrop County Animal Control and Shelter, 589 Cool Water Drive, Bastrop; 512-549-5160; co.bastrop.tx.us


Photo by Ralph Barrera

5 years; 7.5 pounds; no adoption fee

Bella could land a modeling gig as the poster child for tailless cats. She’s petite and calico, and loves nothing more than cuddling with her human companions.

She needs a special home, though, because like many Manx cats, she’s got bathroom issues. As long as Bella receives her daily dose of Cisapride (an inexpensive tablet), she’s fine. She’s been adopted and returned twice by owners who haven’t kept up that regiment.

Photo by Ralph Barrera

Photo by Ralph Barrera

She seems almost embarrassed by that. Bashful and affectionate, she’s been at the shelter since the beginning of December and hasn’t gotten much interest from potential adopters. She needs a home where someone will remember to give her a daily pill and pet her a lot.


Find her: Austin Humane Society, 124 W. Anderson Lane; 512-685-0134; austinhumanesociety.org


Photo by Ralph Barrera

Almost 10 years; 74 pounds; no adoption fee

Don’t let Gwen’s age fool you. This chocolate-colored retriever/Labrador mix with comically tiny rose-petal-sized ears would rather be on the move, and her favorite sport is swimming. She’ll dive into any lake, pool or creek, then show her appreciation with a nod of her whitened muzzle or a wink of her amber-colored eyes.

Photo by Ralph Barrera

Photo by Ralph Barrera

Gwen came in as a stray in 2008. She was adopted twice but turned up stray again both times. She shouldn’t be left unattended in a yard.

She’s playful and happy, especially when you sling her a tennis ball, take her for a long walk or challenge her to a game of tug of war. At 10, she knows how to act, too. She’s worked out the puppy kinks and loves just hanging out with her people. She gets along with other dogs and older children but doesn’t like cats.

She also tested positive for heartworms and needs treatment, which entails crate confinement for 30 to 60 days. The Humane Society partners with a clinic to cover the main treatment, and adopters pay a discounted rate for the cost of pain management and antibiotics.

She’s been at the shelter since early November.


Find her: Austin Humane Society, 124 W. Anderson Lane; 512-685-0134; austinhumanesociety.org


Mr. Biggs

Photo by Ralph Barrera

6 years; 10 pounds; adoption fee, $16

Let’s just call him big boned.

Mr. Biggs, a scrappy, orange marmalade-colored cat, may have let his figure go a bit. He looks like he had a rough life before he arrived at the shelter as a stray, too.

Despite the scratches on his nose and the nicked ear, though, he’s disarmingly handsome. This mellow fellow gazes out of mesmerizing yellowish-green eyes.

Mr. Biggs gets some love. Video by Pam LeBlanc

Mr. Biggs gets some love. Video by Pam LeBlanc

Mr. Biggs has been diagnosed with feline immunodeficiency virus, commonly known as feline AIDS. He’s neutered, but the disease can be passed on via bite wounds acquired through fighting. The virus can lie dormant for years, and most infected cats don’t show symptoms, although they’re prone to other infections and some kinds of cancer.
Find him: Bastrop County Animal Control and Shelter, 589 Cool Water Drive, Bastrop; 512-549-5160; co.bastrop.tx.us