Katy, TX – November 22, 2016 Special Pals is taking pre-orders for their 2017 Red White & Rescue Calendar, a project helping to fundraise for the shelter.


The Red White & Rescue Calendar is a collaboration between first responders and Special Pals. The calendar features first responders from the Katy, West Houston, Richmond, Rosenberg, and Fulshear areas along with their own adopted dogs, or adoptable dogs from Special Pals.

“Our goal for this calendar is to help raise funds and awareness for the shelter,” said Melissa Houser, President of Special Pals. “We also want to recognize local first responders who protect our communities every day. They work hard to save human lives while we work hard to save animal lives.”

Eight local agencies are represented in the 2017 Red White & Rescue Calendar: Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office, Katy ISD Police Department, Fort Bend EMS, Katy Fire Department, Richmond Police Department, Fulshear Police Department, Harris Country Sheriff’s Office, and Fulshear/Simonton Fire Department. Photography was arranged and provided free of charge by Sandy Flint of Flint Photography.

Among the first responders and animals featured are Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy E. Nehls and his dog Archer. Nehls gained international acclaim after he—along with volunteers and KPRC television reporter Phil Archer—rescued a dog tied to a porch from rising flood waters in Fort Bend County. The rescue was caught on video and viewed millions of times all over the world. A few weeks after the rescue, Archer (named after Phil Acher) was adopted by Nehls and his family.

All funds generated from calendar sales will support operations at Special Pals and provide care for the animals currently living at the shelter. “After daily care, medical care, and ‘room and board’ it costs nearly $10 per day to provide care for an adoptable animal at the shelter,” says Elizabeth Trick, Executive Director of Special Pals. “Purchasing this calendar will help us continue to care for the dogs and cats waiting to be adopted, and ensure we can continue to save more animals in 2017.”

The Red White & Rescue Calendar is currently in production and will begin shipping during the week of Thanksgiving. Calendars may be purchased online for $24.99 including tax and shipping, or in person at Special Pals for $20.00 including tax.

To pre-order a copy of the 2017 Red White & Rescue Calendar, and for profiles of the first responders featured in the calendar, visit www.redwhiteandrescue.com.

Special Pals website: http://www.specialpalsshelter.org/

Special Pals Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SpecialPalsShelter

Red White & Rescue Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RedWhiteRescue/

About Special Pals: Special Pals is Houston’s longest running no-kill animal shelter. As a non-profit 501(c)3 organization our mission is to make the world a better place for healthy cats and dogs by providing temporary shelter and health care, an alternative to euthanasia, adoptive homes and education to the community about the responsibilities of pet ownership and the importance of spaying and neutering. We offer adoption services, boarding, low-cost wellness clinics and low-cost spaying and neutering.

Courtesy of Special Pals
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Katy, TX – November 9, 2016 The holiday season is upon us, which means parties and presents and endless festivities. The change in schedule can unfortunately mean an increase in stress, for you and your pets. Here are five simple ways to help keep your pet stress-free during the holidays.


Stick to your routine. A predictable routine is important for your dog. Try to ensure specific things – meals, walks, playtime – occur at more or less the same time each day.

Get some exercise. Make a point of providing some type of exercise for your dog every day. Dogs who are not getting enough exercise can become restless, irritable, hyperactive and anxious.

Challenge your pet’s brain. Engage your dog with a food puzzle or other interactive toy.

Give your pet some TLC. Lack of attention can cause your dog to feel stressed out, which can lead to bad behavior. Make time for your pet, such as snuggling together or playing with their favorite toy.

Enlist a helping hand. Visitors can help you train and provide entertainment for your pet, but if you need more help, bring your dog to Camp for a fun day of play. They’ll come home tired and ready to relax.


Courtesy of Camp Bow Wow Katy
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Courtesy of Camp Bow Wow – Pet ownership has proven mental and physical health benefits for humans, including reduced stress, anxiety and loneliness, and increased exercise and social interaction. Our pets are doing many great things for us so it’s important to return the favor and make sure we are doing what we can to keep them happy and healthy. Read on for some important pet care tips.

1. Evaluate your pet’s poundage. Over half of all pets are overweight which contributes to numerous health problems and can shorten your furry friend’s lifespan. Work with your vet to create a weight loss plan if your pet is overweight.

2. Make preventative care a priority. Visit your vet for annual check-ups to stay updated on any relevant health issues and stay current with vaccinations.

3. Read the labels. Many dog foods contain sugar and other ingredients that cause health problems. Your vet can help you determine the food that will best fit your pet’s needs. And be sure to follow the food bag’s feeding instructions so you don’t over-feed your pet.

4. Don’t fur-get to brush. Our pets need oral hygiene just like we do, and plaque and tartar build-up can lead to serious health issues. Start preventative care early by brushing teeth and giving them rubber toys to chew on, and opt for professional cleaning when the vet says it’s time.

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Running is great exercise for you and your pup, but as the weather warms up, it’s important to take precautions to keep your dog happy and healthy.


Start slow: If Fido has never been out for a run with you, don’t expect him to be up for a marathon. Start with a combination of running and walking for a short time until you notice that his endurance is increasing.

Be mindful of the weather: Dogs can overheat very quickly and can suffer heat stroke. If you absolutely must run on a very hot and humid day, go during the early morning hours–between 5 AM and 8 AM– or leave Fido at home.

Watch out for Fido’s feet: Pavement and asphalt gets incredibly hot on summer days and can quickly burn your pup’s feet. To be safe, only take your dog running on dirt trails, grass, or sand. Stop periodically during your run to check his paws for burns or cuts.

Hydrate: Make sure Fido has had a chance to drink water and hydrate before you take him out on a run. Take a portable water bowl so you can stop and give your pup some water throughout your run.

Keep a watchful eye: Be sure to check on your dog and make sure he doesn’t look like he’s in pain or suffering from heat exhaustion.

Lather up: Believe it or not, dogs are susceptible to sunburns. If you’re running on a sunny day, be sure to apply sunscreen to both yourself and Fido if your dog has shorter hair or is a lighter color.

Eating before or after running: Make sure that your dog does not eat one hour before or after running. Some dogs are susceptible to bloat and eating too close to exercising can be extremely dangerous.

If it’s just too dog gone hot, drop your pup off at Camp Bow Wow (opening in August 2015) so he can romp and play in our climate-controlled play yards, and come home happy and exhausted!

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Katy Fire Department hires a four-legged firefighter

Written by Kirsten Cornell|Photography by Christopher Rodriguez

Katy, TX News – When Lt. Shane Hughes of the Katy Fire Department (KFD) first thought about adding a four-legged team member to their department, a Dalmatian was a natural choice. “Like any family thinking of getting a dog, we had to carefully consider everything that goes along with pet ownership: costs, vet care, who would walk her, etc.,” says Laurie Conrad, firefighter and president of the Katy Fire and EMS Association. “Everyone in the department had to agree before we would proceed.”

KM_F_14_Katy Dalmatian_Katy with firefighter gear 2_photo by Kristofor Rodriguez
Katy is a rescue Dalmatian at the Katy Fire Department

Rescuing Katy
After considering their options, KFD decided they preferred giving a rescue dog a good home. Beth White of Dalmatian
Rescue of Colorado put them in touch with Jeanne, a woman who was fostering a Dalmatian in League City. Lt. Hughes
met with Jeanne and the foster dog to evaluate her demeanor and evaluate whether or not she would make a good fit.

“A few days later, Jeanne brought her to the station for a site visit,” Conrad recalls. “We fell in love with her immediately, and I believe the feeling was mutual.” They appropriately named their new team member, Katy. She was reportedly rescued from an animal hoarder and had only been in foster care a few days before coming to live at KFD. “She was very thin, but otherwise in good health,” says Conrad. “We knew when we rescued a dog that we would have to give her plenty of time and space to settle in.”

Other than being a little protective of her toys at first, Katy adjusted very quickly. “It almost seemed like she had never had her own toys and wanted to protect them. When we gave them to her, she ran and hid them in her kennel,” says Conrad. With the safety and security of constant love and attention, Katy now feels right at home – and her toys can be found all over the station.

KM_F_14_Katy Dalmatian_Katy Fire Dept. C shift pose in front of a antique Chevelot Firetruck 2_photo by Kristofor Rodriguez
Katy Fire Department works 24 hours on three shifts with Katy being assigned two handlers per shift to ensure consistency

Training as a Firedog
Katy is an official City of Katy employee, has a photo ID just like the rest of her team members, and her training number is D01. Although she has not been to a working fire yet, she Katy Fire Department works 24 hours on three shifts with Katy being assigned two handlers per shift to ensure consistencyhas been on the fire truck during her training exercises and has done very well. “She will eventually be responding to all calls. She loves to be on-the-go and anywhere we are,” adds Conrad.

Katy lives at the fire station, and although she has her own space, has been known to sneak into a few dorm rooms. During shift changes, she makes the rounds, greeting each member of the on-coming shift and saying goodbye to the off-going shift. “She seems to have an awareness that we come and go and which people belong together,” Conrad laughs.

Mac Macintosh, a trainer with 48 years of experience who has also worked with Katy Police Department canines, has donated his time and service to work with Katy and her handlers. He notes that Katy is very intelligent, a quick learner, and eager to please.

Spotting Katy
Katy’s primary role will be in public relations. She will be a key component at events and station tours, and will
ultimately demonstrate fire safety techniques such as, “stop, drop, and roll.” “We hope that she will make a great impression on kids,” Conrad adds. Katy will be making several public appearances in the community, especially at schools, and KFD is excited to be able to utilize her in this capacity. “She is energetic but very even-tempered, perfectly suited for interacting with the public,” says Conrad.

If you take a tour of the station, you’re sure to spot Katy greeting guests or chasing her favorite toy, a stuffed green avocado, and generally loving her new home. “KFD is truly like a family and Katy completes our family,” says Conrad. “She is our companion, but she also has a job to do. We love our jobs, and we think Katy does, too.” KM

Kirsten Cornell is the lead associate editor at Katy Magazine. She is the daughter of a firefighter, but they regrettably did not have a Dalmatian.

Katy the Firedog visits Katy Magazine (6)
Katy Magazine had the pleasure of meeting Katy Fire Department’s newest team member

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Rescuing, rehabilitating, and renewing hope for golden retrievers

Written by Kirsten Cornell | Photography by Juliana Evans

Katy, Texas News – Shari Anderson had always loved dogs, and she found herself wanting a golden retriever puppy. Happily, she answered an ad in the newspaper claiming to have several of the family-friendly breed available. When she arrived at the destination, she was horrified to find several golden and Labrador retrievers being kept in desolate conditions in an unventilated tin barn. “I purchased my puppy and left as quickly as I could, but could not stop thinking about the dogs left behind,” Anderson recalls.

Looking for help to save these poor animals, Anderson discovered that there was no organization dedicated to retrievers in Houston or the surrounding areas. Securing the assistance of the Golden Retriever Club of Houston and rescue groups out of Austin, she was able to see all of the puppy mill residents saved. Due to poor care and neglect, many of the dogs, including Anderson’s puppy Comet, experienced severe health issues. What looked like the end of the story for these pups was ultimately the inspiration for Golden Beginnings Golden Retriever Rescue (GBGRR).

GBGRR rescues an average of 150 to 250 golden retrievers each year
GBGRR rescues an average
of 150 to 250 golden
retrievers each year

Fostering Love
This non-profit, all-volunteer organization rescues an average of 150 to 250 golden retrievers a year from a variety of situations including animal shelters, strays, owner surrenders, veterinarians, boarding facilities, and puppy mill closures. “It can be as simple as picking up a golden at one of the local shelters, or it can take several days to plan transport from an outlying area,” explains Cil Henson, the current president of GBGRR. Whichever way rescues come into their care, the group’s top priority is to connect with a veterinarian, run tests, and plan care.

Some dogs enter the program with behavior issues or health complications such as emaciation, mange, heartworms, or injuries. “Some of our dogs from puppy mill situations are so traumatized and withdrawn, that it can take years for them to acclimate to life outside of a cage and to learn to bond with and trust a human,” says Henson sadly.

This is when GBGRR’s foster homes become vitally important. Each rescue is placed with a foster family that works with them to correct behavior, acquire a clean bill of health, and help them build up a foundation of love and trust. Foster homes observe the dogs on a daily basis evaluating their character, temperament, energy level, and reactions to different situations. This input is taken into consideration when placing rescues in forever homes. “In many cases, the results of this personal attention are remarkable,” explains Henson. “It is very rewarding to see the change in these dogs and to watch them blossom with the love and care showered on them by our foster homes.”

GBGRR, an all-volunteer non-profit organization, believes that people can make miracles happen
GBGRR, an all-volunteer non-profit
organization, believes that people
can make miracles happen

A Christmas Rescue
Dickens’ story began on a cold Christmas Eve last year. GBGRR volunteers found him wandering the streets alone and rushed him to a local vet, where he was diagnosed with severe heart failure, respiratory distress, and a fluid-filled abdomen. His heart was infested so badly with heartworms, the doctor considered a risky surgical procedure in an attempt to save his life. “We thought we were going to lose him that night,” says Mike Patterson, current board member and leader of the adoption team. “We were astounded that he was still with us on Christmas morning.”

The decision was made to put Dickens on four different medications to manage the heart failure, but another problem arose: he refused to eat. “He turned up his nose at cream cheese, peanut butter, soft dog food, and even Black Forest ham. The process took us close to two hours every day,” recalls Patterson. They experienced a breakthrough when a foster parent developed a meatloaf especially for him.

This Christmas will hold entirely different memories for Dickens. Now full of energy and heartworm-free, he was adopted by his foster family. “He is a sweet soul who readily welcomes new fosters into his home,” laughs Patterson. “And he never turns down a meal.” Patterson is keenly aware that Dickens’ life would have been lost if GBGRR had not been there to give him a second chance.

Angie Pierce and her family take pride in volunteering with and fostering rescues for Golden Beginnings Golden Retriever Rescue
Angie Pierce and her family
take pride in volunteering
with and fostering rescues
for Golden Beginnings
Golden Retriever Rescue

Miracle of Mercy
When GBGRR received the call from a Houston shelter telling them they had a stray with an eye injury, they were completely caught off-guard by what they discovered. She was emaciated, infested with heartworms, had broken teeth, an infected eye socket with only the optic nerve left, and had scratched herself raw from skin infections. “We thought we would have to carry her, but despite her horrible physical condition, she walked to the car and pulled herself into the backseat without a whimper,” Patterson says. “We marveled at this stoic little dog’s strength and spirit.”

Immediate surgery was required to prevent the infection from traveling to her brain. Thankfully the surgery was successful, and with frequent baths and good nutrition, Mercy healed from her infections and heartworms. In five short months of foster care, she was ready for her new home. When Amarillo resident Dixie saw Mercy on the GBGRR website, she knew they were meant for each other. “I needed Mercy as much as she needed me,” says Dixie.

“It didn’t matter that she was ‘special needs;’ there was something in her gaze that reached out to me.” A volunteer made the 1,200-mile round trip to unite Mercy with her new family. When Dixie tearfully hugged Mercy as though they were long-lost friends, the journey proved wellworth their efforts.

Priceless Joy
With their affectionate personalities and unique spirit, golden retrievers are very people-oriented and make great companions for families. Those interested in adopting or fostering through GBGRR are encouraged to fill out an application online to begin the process.

While rescue work is difficult, the rewards are priceless. “We experience such joy when dogs who were unloved in their prior lives meet their new families where you know they will be cherished,” says Patterson. “Sometimes people can make miracles happen.” KM

KIRSTEN CORNELL is the lead associate editor at Katy Magazine and a softie for animal rescues. She has filled out an application to volunteer at Golden Beginnings Golden Retriever Rescue.


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Katy Pets