Saving Man’s Best Friend


Teresa Reading and Bindi.

Teresa Reading and Bindi.

By Zeenat Kassam Mitha  –

American actor James Cromwell said, “Pets are humanizing. They remind us we have an obligation and responsibility to preserve and nurture and care for all life.” Pets are a part of Fort Bend Culture, and many of our city parks and public spaces make special privileges for pets. Those who grew up with pets know the love and joy pets bring to our lives and our wellbeing, as they are family. They are loyal and love whatever attention they receive from their owners. Despite how many people love and care for pets, there are many in Fort Bend that do not have a home and a family to love, and their time on this earth becomes limited.

Fort Bend Pets Alive! (FBPA!) was founded in October 2014. Those involved with the organization have been immersed in animal rescue for many years. They currently help pets that are most at risk of being put to sleep in a shelter. The animals that FBPA! focuses on are those in immediate danger that have been passed over by other rescue groups and adoption programs and have no other option. Therefore, FBPA! is complementary to other rescue efforts.

“With the exception of very few privately owned and operated shelters, it is heartbreaking that our city and county shelters have to put to sleep anywhere from 75 to 95 percent of perfectly healthy and adoptable companion animals on a regular basis,” said Claudine Vass, FBPA! co-founder and president of the board.

Paxton Walsh and a shelter pet that later became a service dog in Colorado.

Paxton Walsh and a shelter pet that later
became a service dog in Colorado.

There are approximately 1.2 million stray animals on the streets of Greater Houston. FBPA!’s goal is to work with municipal shelters to reach a goal of a 90 percent or higher safe rate. “What that takes is getting pets into good, loving homes through adoption programs; high-volume, low cost or free, targeted spay and neuter programs;  political advocacy and community education, which includes marketing and matching pets to potential owners,” stated Ingrid Gunn Otero, FBPA! co-founder and treasurer of the board.

FBPA! believes the community can do better working together. What has been found through extensive experiences in the world of animal rescue is that Houston and its surrounding communities need more than the average rescue program in order to address the root causes of pet overpopulation and the high euthanasia rates within the city and county shelters.

Travis Scott and Taylor McFarland showing love to Alonzo from the City of Missouri Animal Shelter.

Travis Scott and Taylor McFarland showing love to Alonzo from the City of Missouri Animal Shelter.

What separates FBPA! from other rescue groups in the area is their holistic approach. The organization is modeled after the comprehensive and innovative programs designed and implemented by Austin Pets Alive! (APA!). APA! successfully turned Austin into a no-kill community four years ago by identifying gaps in animal sheltering and welfare and by filling those gaps with cutting-edge programs that brought the live release rate of animals from their municipal shelter to more than 90 percent.

The City of Austin, the largest no-kill community in the nation, is not only sustaining this great accomplishment, but they are also thriving and reaching out to offer help to other communities. In fact, they have been providing the City of San Antonio with ongoing tools and support that have put them on track to becoming a no-kill city.

“FBPA! is committed to transforming Fort Bend County into a no-kill community. We have been consulting with leaders and advocates from Fort Bend, as well as Austin Pets Alive! and Best Friends Animal Society,” said FBPA! advisor Teresa Cox Reading.

“If individuals consider adopting from the City and county shelters first versus getting pets from anywhere else, a pet’s life is saved,” said board member Cynthia Castaldo Walsh.

Visit or email to adopt a pet, foster a pet or volunteer with FBPA!

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