Are you ready for the Party? The Wedding Party & Expo, that is

The third annual Wedding Party & Expo, the largest LGBT wedding expo in Texas, is less than a week away, and event sponsors are reminding potential vendors to reserve their booth space and potential guests to register to attend as soon as possible.

The event is free to the public, but each guest must be registered. You can register — quickly, easily and for free — right here.

And event though it is billed as an LGBT community event, this isn’t just for same-sex couples looking for information and resources in planning their weddings. Straight folks are welcome, too AND it’s not just for weddings, either. Most of the vendors who will be there offer services that come in handy in planning any big events — anniversaries, special birthdays, parties of all kinds. PLUS, there will be free samples of things like Yelibelly chocolates, cakes and other goodies AND a cash bar.

Seriously, this ain’t your grandma’s bridal expo. It’s a party like only the gays can throw!

So register today and come on out to the Coronado Ballroom at the Hilton Anatole Hotel, 2201 Stemmons Freeway, from 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, July 23. Admission is free and so is parking.

Vendors: there are a very few booths left and what’s left are going fast. Get in on the action by calling 214-754-8710 ext 115 today.

—  Tammye Nash

Jeffrey Payne announces run for Texas governor

Jeffrey Payne

Dallas businessman Jeffery Payne on Friday, July 14, announced that he is running for governor of Texas, challenging Republican incumbent Greg Abbott, who he characterizes as a “disaster for Texans” and a governor who “offers nothing in the way of new ideas.”

“Texas needs a governor who believes in real Texas values, like integrity, honesty, freedom and independence,” Payne said in a statement announcing his candidacy. “It’s time we stopped wasting our time and money on silly legislation and start investing our time finding ways to help Texans, their families and businesses prosper.”

Payne pointed to his history of success as a businessman — from his respected court reporting firm, to his real estate dealings and his thriving nightclub, The Dallas Eagle. The candidate said he makes no secret of his active involvement in the Dallas LGBT community or his history as a former International Mr. Leather, a title that gave him a platform to promote many charity events.

He also said that his philanthropic work reflects his commitment to helping others not just in the LGBT community, but the greater Texas community, as well. He founded the Sharon St. Cyr Fund, an organization that assists people in obtaining hearing aids and provides grants for sign language interpreters at public events.

Payne, born in Maine, lost his mother when he was 3, and he spent much of his childhood in an orphanage before entering foster care at age 15. From that point on, he said, he was driven to succeed no matter what the circumstances. By age 23 he owned Payne’s Fine Jewelry, which marked the beginning of a series of successful ventures — ventures that were interrupted suddenly when Hurricane Katrina whipped out everything he had built up in New Orleans, where he lived.

Undeterred, Payne relocated to Dallas and started over again.

Payne said Texas has been good to him, and he believes it’s time he returned that good fortune. He has chosen to run for the governor’s office because he holds a strong commitment to real Texas values and truly believes he can make a positive difference in Texas politics as usual.

“It’s time we stopped letting the Republican Party run unopposed in this state,” Payne declared. “We need a governor who is not a career bureaucrat, but one with real world experience and dedication to making Texas a better, safer and healthier place for all Texans.”

 

—  Tammye Nash

Gay Agenda • 07-14-17

Gay-Agenda-image-06-02-17

 

Have an event coming up? Email your information to Managing Editor Tammye Nash at nash@dallasvoice.com or Senior Staff Writer David Taffet at taffet@dallasvoice.com by Wednesday at 5 p.m. for that week’s issue.

Weekly: Lambda Weekly every Sunday at 1 p.m. on 89.3 KNON-FM. This week’s guest is congressional candidate Lorie Burch; United Black Ellument hosts discussion on HIV/AIDS in the black community (UBE Connected) at 7 p.m. every fourth Tuesday of the month at 3116 Commerce St., Suite C; Core Group Meeting every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m.; Fuse game night every Monday evening except the last of the month at 8 p.m. at the Fuse space in the Treymore Building, 4038 Lemmon Ave, Suite 101; FuseConnect every Wednesday from 7 p.m. For more information call or e-mail Jalenzski at 214-760-9718 ext 3 or Jalenzski@myresourcecenter.org. LGBT square dancing group Pegasus Squares meets every Sunday from 3-5 p.m. at Dallas School of Burlesque, 2924 Main St #103; Dallas Frontrunners meet for a walk or run on the Katy Trail at the Robert E. Lee statue in Lee Park every Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. and every Saturday at 9 a.m.; Leadership Lambda Toastmasters practices and develops speaking and leadership skills from 6:30-8 p.m. on Tuesdays at First Unitarian Church, third floor of the Hallman Building, 4012 St. Andrews.; Gray Pride support group from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. followed by mixer every Monday at Resource Center, 5750 Cedar Springs Road; Lambda AA meets at 7 a.m., noon, 6 p.m. 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. and has a men’s meeting at 10 a.m. on Saturdays and meets at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sunday at 1575 W. Mockingbird Lane #625. Call 214-267-0222 for details; DVtv in Spayse, news and entertainment discussion live streaming every Friday, 4-5 p.m., on the Spayse Station YouTube channel.

JULY
• Through July 23: The Eclectic Anniversary Art Auction
As part of its 47th anniversary celebration, Cathedral of Hope is transformed into an art gallery featuring a collection of original 20th and 21st century movie posters and art, including Texas artists and commissioned works. CathedralofHope.com/47years.

• July 14: Voyeurotic Carnival: A Night of Circus and Burlesque
PolyDallas Millennium LLC, hosts Voyeurotic Carnival: A Night of Circus and Burlesque at 8 p.m., at Viva’s,
1350 Manufacturing, featuring Sydni Deveraux of New York City, Onyx Fury, Amy Henderson, Olive Avira, Iris Le’Mour, Vivienne Vermuth and Nox Falls, and emceed by Lillith Grey. The event is part of PolyDallas’s 3rd annual symposium, “Power, Equality and Anarchy in Polyamory,” being held July 14-16 at Crowne Plaza Dallas Market, 7050 N. Stemmons. Tickets for the burlesque show start at $20 and are available at Prekindle.comn/vivas. For information on the seminar visit PolyDallasMillennium.com.

• July 14: DFW Pride Happy Hour
DFW Pride Happy Hour, organized and maintained as a community service by Texas Instruments’ TI Pride Network, will be from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Two Corks and a Bottle, 2800 Routh St., No. 140, in The Quadrangle.
For information email pavw@ti.com.

• July 15: Parkland garage sale
Sale items from the old Parkland hospital facility including furniture, chairs, desks, file cabinets, refrigerators, ice machines, a limited number of
flat-screen monitors and more from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at 2420 Butler St.

• July 15: Art Show and Sale
Beverages, music, art from 1-8 p.m. at Carson Art Gallery, 1710 Hi Line Drive.

• July 15: Firecracker Gaybingo
Monthly fundraiser for Resource Center takes place from 6-9 p.m. at the Rose Room at S4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road. 214-540-4458. MyResourceCenter.org/gaybingo.

• July 16: Summer Psychic & Holistic Fair
The Labyrinth Walk Coffee House presents the Summer Psychic and Holistic Fair at the UU Church of Oak Cliff, 2829 W. Kiest Blvd. Will include a variety of readers, healers, Reiki practitioners and more, plus vendors selling healing crystals, jewelry, bath products, art and more. Admission is free; readings start at $20 per 15-minute session. For information visit LabyrinthWalkCoffeehouse.com.

• July 18: One Texas Resistance Rally
A coalition of progressive activist organizations will stage the #OneTx Resistance Rally at 1 p.m. on the steps of the Texas Capitol in Austin

• July 18: Get Centered
Behind the scenes tour of the Resource Center led by CEO Cece Cox from 11 a.m.-noon at 5750 Cedar Springs Road.

• July 18: Stonewall Democrats
of Dallas meeting Cocktails begin at 6 p.m. and the meeting at 6:30 p.m. upstairs at Sue Ellen’s, 3014 Throckmorton St.

• July 19: Oak Cliff Live
As Dallas continues to struggle with the issue of homelessness, Oak Cliff Live discusses the less fortunate in Oak Cliff. Refreshments at 6:30 p.m. Program at 7 p.m. at Bishop Dunne School Library, 3900 Rugged Drive.

• July 20: Gray Pride
Monthly mixer from 5:30-7 p.m. at Resource Center, 5750 Cedar Springs Road.

• July 20: TAG Dinner Group
The Tyler Area Gays Dinner Group dines at Pochs Rice Café, 1700 SSE Loop 323, #102 in Tyler. RSVP to DinnerGroup@TylerAreaGays.com.

• July 21: Federal Club mixer
Mixer for LGBT adults and allies from 6-8 p.m. at Savor Gastropub, 2000 Woodall Rodgers Freeway.

• July 22: Pride festival auditions
Audition to perform on the community stage at the Sept. 16 Pride festival in Reverchon Park from 1-4 p.m. in the
Rose Room, 3911 Cedar Springs Road.

• July 22: TAG screens A Very Sordid Wedding
Tyler Area Gays hosts a screening of Del Shore’s new movie, A Very Sordid Wedding, at 8 p.m. at Liberty Hall, 103 E. Erwin St. in Tyler. Tickets are available online at LibertyTyler.com/events/

• July 23: The Wedding Party & Expo
Dallas Voice presents the third LGBT Wedding Expo to connect businesses with couples who are planning a wedding. Vendors include bakers, car services, caterers, clergy, florists, formal and bridal wear, jewelers,musicians, photographers and videographers, printers, venues, destinations and more from 1-4 p.m. at Hilton Anatole Hotel, 2201 N. Stemmons Freeway.

• July 23: A Very Sordid Wedding
Screening of the film followed by Q&A with Ann Walker, Emerson Collins (producer), Rosemary Alexander, Newell Alexander and Del Shores at 5:30 p.m. at Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road. Tickets at CathedralofHope.com/47years.

• July 24: Multi-Candidate Meet & Greet, Collin County
Dani Pellett, candidate for Texas’ District 32 congressional seat, hosts a multi-candidate meet-and-greet for Collin County from 7-9 p.m. at 281 Paddock Trail in Fairview. For information email Dani@DaniForCongress or call 802-392-DANI.

• July 25: Grief Support Group
Grief support group for LGBT people who have lost a same-sex partner meets from 7-8 p.m. at Oak Lawn Library, 4100 Cedar Springs Road.

……………….

Grey-Lillith.1

Lillith Grey, pictured, emcees PolyDallas Millennium’s “Voyeurotic Carnival: A Night of Circus and Burlesque” at 8 p.m. tonight at Viva’s, 1350 Manufacturing. See listings for details. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 14, 2017.

—  Dallasvoice

Pet of the week • 07-14-17

Chloe

 

Meet Chloe, a 3-year-old domestic short hair mix tortoiseshell who weighs 9 pounds. She’s a shy lady hoping to find a home with patient people. She loves playing with dangling toys and chasing toys and balls, and she really likes cuddling. Though she can be particular about the way she likes to be held, she enjoys curling up next to a warm body and taking a snooze. Chloe is spayed, microchipped and up to date on her age-appropriate vaccinations. If you’re looking for a cat’s cat, she’s the girl for you. # 152080

Chloe is waiting for you at the SPCA of Texas’ Jan Rees-Jones Animal Care Center in Dallas, 2400 Lone Star Drive, near I-30 and Hampton Road. Hours are noon-6 p.m. Sun-Wed. and noon-7 p.m. Thurs-Sat.. In celebration of 100 Days of Summer at the SPCA of Texas, you can adopt any dog, cat, puppy or kitten for only $25. Regular adoption fees are $250 for puppies, $125 for adult dogs 6 months or older and kittens 0-6 months, $75 for adult cats 6 months or older and $50 for senior dogs or cats 7 years or older and VIP dogs and cats (available for adoption for 30 days or more.) Fee includes spay/neuter surgery, age-appropriate vaccinations, a heartworm test for dogs six months and older and a FIV/FeLV test for cats 4 months and older, initial flea/tick preventative and heartworm preventative, a microchip, 30 days of PetHealth Insurance provided by PetPlan, a free 14-day wellness exam with VCA Animal Hospitals, a free year-long subscription to Activ4Pets, a rabies tag and a free leash. Call 214-742-SPCA (7722) or visit today.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 14, 2017.

—  Dallasvoice

Investigation continues into Covington murder

Executive assistant to CoH pastor was known as courteous, fair and always trusted

Chism-Cazarez-Thomas-Covington

Lee Covington (right) with Cathedral of Hope’s Chris Chism, left, and the Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas. (Courtesy Barb Nunn/2nd2Nunn Photography)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Lee Covington, 54, was found dead in his condo by a friend late Friday afternoon, July 7.

Covington was executive assistant to the Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas at Cathedral of Hope, and had worked for the church for more than 10 years. He was first hired by the Rev. Jo Hudson as a receptionist. Hudson then promoted him to his current position, and he served the Rev. Jim Mitulski, interim pastor, in the same position.

A friend called police after finding Covington dead inside his locked home. The friend told police to look for a Rolex watch, car and house keys and a cell phone, and according to police, all of the items were missing from the home.

Police spoke to neighbors who said they had written down the license plate number of a suspicious man they saw walking in the complex. While police were processing the crime scene, neighbors saw the same man return, this time driving a U-Haul.

The license plate number led police to Yevin Rushing, 22. On Saturday, they brought Rushing to police headquarters as a person of interest. Rushing waived his Miranda rights and agreed to talk to police, admitting that he met Covington on Craigslist and that he was at Covington’s condo on Friday.

After police found a Rolex watch in Rushing’s car, he claimed Covington gave him the watch during an earlier visit.

Although the police report is heavily redacted and detectives have not released additional information while the investigation continues and to protect “the privacy of the victim,” Rushing also had Covington’s keys. He apparently locked the door behind him as he left the condo and, presumably, planned to continue the robbery when he returned with the U-Haul, not expecting the body to be found that quickly or for neighbors to have been so observant.

After the medical examiner performed an autopsy and declared the cause of death “homicide due to suffocation and affixation,” police arrested Rushing for capital murder. He is being held in Lew Sterrett on $500,000 bond.

In honor of Covington, who was a beloved figure at Cathedral of Hope, many people wore bowties to Sunday morning services at the church. Covington always wore a bowtie when he was at the church.

Mitulski, who served as interim pastor of Cathedral of Hope after the resignation of Hudson, said his success at the church was largely due to Covington. He said he relied on Covington’s personal and professional support.

“I came to work at the cathedral at a delicate time in its history, a transition time after serious conflict that had been many years in the making,” Mitulski said. “I didn’t know anybody very well, and I needed someone who I could trust and who the various estranged parties also trusted. Lee proved himself time and again to be a person of impeccable integrity and a natural ambassador and bridge builder.”

Because people trusted Covington, Mitulski said he was able to connect with people he wouldn’t have otherwise been able to meet. Covington, he added, treated people courteously and fairly, even if they were not always polite with him.

“He was calm, and helped me navigate some of the cultural ways of Texas and southern culture that were new to me as an outsider,” Mitulski said, calling Covington “the through line that kept the cathedral running.”

When he heard Covington had been murdered, Mitulski said, “I held it together for a day, and last night I went to a gay church in Boston where I felt I could be myself and I cried and cried.”

Hudson said she hired Covington to be the front desk receptionist after he retired from another job. She said he loved the church and wanted to give something back. She described Covington as a cordial, kind and good man who was professional and “could handle difficult situations.”

Hudson said after her administrative assistant left, the position stayed vacant for awhile because she wasn’t sure how to fill it. “Then I walked in the church one day and there he was, right in front of my eyes,” she said. “So he moved upstairs.”

Hudson said she and Covington quickly synched their work patterns, and “he was always at my right shoulder. He was there with me before and after worship.”

Covington had a knack for making sure everyone’s needs were taken care of, Hudson said. When someone would come up to the pastor to tell her about an upcoming hospital stay or a sick relative, Covington reminded her and made sure she followed up.

“I’m heartbroken over this,” Hudson said. “I will miss him a lot.”

Cazares-Thomas, calling Covington an incredible man, said, “I’ve been in Dallas two years. I never would have gotten into the community as well as I have without his assistance. He always made sure I was in the right place at the right time with the right information.”

He said he didn’t know how to replace him, but then quickly corrected himself and said he couldn’t really replace him.

Mayor Mike Rawlings called Cazares-Thomas to express his condolences as have religious leaders from around the world.            

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 14, 2017.

—  David Taffet

Grand marshal voting now open

2 audition dates set for the  Pride Festival community stage

Grand-Marshalls

Shanequa Williams, Jalenzski Brown, Omar Narvaez, Lee Ann Locken, Michael LaMasters, Nicole Ohara Munro.

DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Nominations for grand marshals of the 2017 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade have closed, and voting has begun to narrow the field of six finalists down to two. Online voting runs through Aug. 4 at DallasPride.org.

Dallas Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman said 30 people were nominated in all. The ballot lists the six people who received the most nominations. Nominees are Omar Narvaez, Nicole O’Hara Munro. Queen Taz/Shanequa Williams, Jalenzski Brown, Michael Hayes/Michael Lamasters and Lee Ann Locken.

In June, Omar Narvaez became the first openly gay person elected to the Dallas City Council in 10 years. He is also one of the few people who came onto the council by beating an incumbent. Narvaez works for Lambda Legal and has served as president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

Nicole O’Hara Munro bartends at Zippers and is show hostess at Marty’s Live. She’s a strong activist and educator for transgender rights. She currently works with A Nu Trans Movement and a LGBTQ youth group.

Queen Taz/Shanequa Williams is a survivor of the July 7 protest that ended in the shooting of DPD and DART officers. She’s a bi-sexual woman who supports the LGBT community and is a strong and powerful voice for equality and acceptance in our city. She is a mother/rapper/singer/songwriter (Tru G Records) Prez of Boss ‘N Up CC/Prez of Life is Valuable.

Jalenzski Brown works with Resource Center as the MPowerment programs manager and co-manager of the HIV and STD prevention and treatment services. He also serves on the Mayor of Dallas’ LGBT Task Force.

Michael Hayes/Michael Lamasters is involved with GayBingo and is a former Mr. Gay Highland Park, Mr. Gay Texas USofA and Mr. Gay Mid-Atlantic USofA as well as the former national titleholder of Mr. Gay USofA. He’s a regional college recruiter and speaks to students on shaping and building their futures.

Lee Ann Locken is one the stars of The Real Housewives of Dallas. During the show’s first season, she included quite a bit of fundraising for HIV/AIDS causes, spending so much time working with Legacy Counseling Center that Legacy Executive Director Melissa Grove was practically a seventh housewife on the show. Even on episodes in which Grove didn’t appear, Locken mentioned needing to call Grove. Locken was recently grand marshal at the Key West Pride Parade.

This is the fourth year grand marshals are selected entirely by nominations and a community vote.

Auditions

Open auditions for local talent to perform on the Community Stage at the Pride Festival take place in the Rose Room on two consecutive Saturdays — July 22 and July 29. The auditions will be held in the Rose Room from 1-4 p.m. Enter through the patio entrance off the parking lot behind S-4, and come up the stairs to the Rose Room.

Doughman said the festival committee will select up to a dozen acts to perform 15-20-minute sets from 11 a.m.–7 p.m.

He said they’re looking for a variety of acts — dance, drag, stand-up comedy, two or three actors doing a scene, acoustic groups.

“We’re open to any talent,” he said.

But there is a limit to what they can accommodate: “We have no facilities for a full-scale band,” Doughman said, simply due to limitations in the park for electricity. So that means no large bands that need multiple outlets.

“We can accommodate a guitar and a drum set, though,” he said.

This is the first time there will be a community stage in addition to the main stage.

Audition at The Rose Room, 3911 Cedar Springs Road on July 22 and 29 from 1-4 p.m.    

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 14, 2017.

        

—  David Taffet

Girl on girls • 07-14-17

Jenny Block talks about dieting … on FOMO

Girl-watching-TV

 

Everyone is always talking about dieting. But the one kind of diet I never hear people talking about going on is a media diet. Just like we can overeat when it comes to food, we can also overindulge when it comes to images of what the world supposedly looks like. And I do mean supposedly. Because from reality TV to Facebook to the latest movie romcom or sitcom, not only is none of it real, it’s not even close.

It can be easy to get FOMO these days (fear of missing out), to compare ourselves — and especially our relationships — to all of the media to which we are constantly exposed. The thing is, I believe that many (if not most) of us know deep down that it isn’t real. But somehow that knowledge doesn’t help us … at all. Despite knowing how fake it is, we still long for it.

We come by that longing honestly, to be sure. It starts when we are very, very young. Our existence is idealized. The apples of our parents’ eyes. Destined for greatness. Poised to find true love. We have little or no sense of the reality of our parents’ relationship. All we know is Disney and its princesses. Barbie and her Dream House. Storybooks and their happily-ever-afters.

And so it goes.

We read more magazines. Gobble up more books. Get lost in movies and TV. Even in the most tragic of movies, there are the truest of loves — the magical connections, the partners who will go to any lengths. And therein lies the problem. The media defines the perfect relationship with no basis in reality. We are told those movies and books are just for fun, just an escape. Still, somehow we believe.

It’s not just relationships; it’s sex, too. The perfect “first time,” the almost-exclusively-straight sex in pop culture, the instant orgasms. All of it leaves us wondering, What’s wrong with me? And that’s the thing — nothing is wrong with you… except for your diet.

If we are constantly taking in unrealistic models of the way love and sex will work, there is very little that can realign our thinking. But if we stop that constant influx of fake love and fake sex and fake relationships, well, then we have the chance for our brains to do their own thinking, their own research, and to come to their own understanding about not only what love and relationships do look like, but also what they can look like. That is, the quiet can help us to come to know what it is we really want from a partner.

You don’t have to want to be by your partner every second. You don’t have to want time apart. You don’t have to enjoy the same hobbies or more separate interests than similar ones. You don’t have to love all the same people. You don’t have to have separate stables of friends. You don’t have to do anything. Not really.

I mean, love and respect and trust and communicate. I personally think those are must haves and must-dos. But how and where you choose to live and work and play and with whom is actually 100 percent up to you and the person (people) with whom you are involved.

Don’t believe me? Give in a try. Don’t watch any TV or movies that touch on relationships. I realize that leaves you very little to consume. But so what? Go for a walk. Go outside and paint. Play with your dog. Finally learn to speak Spanish. Call your mom. Put down the magazines and books that are should-ing all over you about what love and sex and dating and relationships “should” look like.

Replace media with reality. Spend time with other couples you enjoy and admire. Speak openly and honestly with friends and family about how they make their relationships work and share your experiences as well. Stop worrying about how it will look if people know everything isn’t perfect in your world. Trust me, it’s not perfect in theirs, either. When you start to judge yourself and your partner against the truth instead of against the fairy tale, you will likely be very pleasantly surprised about what you discover.

It’s all about perspective. I don’t think there’s anything worse for one’s happiness in a relationship than longing for something that doesn’t exist. Love is wonderful. It’s also messy and revealing and soul baring and challenging. Humans are complicated beings. When you combine them, it only stands to get more complicated.

My relationship is perfectly imperfect. We are two real people who bicker and get grumpy and mess up. We are also two real people who apologize and ask forgiveness and learn from our mistakes. I admit, we do watch our share of romantic movies and television and I have been known to get lost in the black hole of the internet. But I also remember to shut it all off and come back to center — the place where she and I live.

The place where mascara runs and tears fall and no one wakes up ready to go to the ball. I am grateful every day for someone who stands beside me no matter what and who knows that I’m no fairy tale princess. And I look forward every day to writing our own happily ever after … no prince or fairy godmother or glass slipper required.

Have a question about sex, relationships or life you want Jenny to address? Email it to GirlOnGirlsJenny@gmail.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 14, 2017.

—  Dallasvoice

The animals’ best friend

SPCA of Texas has a long history of helping make our furry friends healthier, happier

SPCA

Tammye Nash | Managing Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Pamper-your-Pet-logo-(News)If you are looking to adopt a pet from a shelter, there are plenty of options to choose from in North Texas. But few have the depth of history and breadth of programming that SPCA of Texas offers.

Back in the days when people first started thinking about animal welfare in terms of protecting animals from people and other dangers, rather than protecting people from animals — that’s going back to the late 1800s — the organizations that were talking about taking care of animals were the same ones that focused on the rights and welfare of women and children. It wasn’t until after the turn of the century, according to Maura Davies, vice president of communications for SPCA of Texas.

Inside-SPCAThe first U.S. organizations focused on the welfare of animals formed in New York, Davies said, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), which sprung from the foundation of England’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Those organizations then jumped cross-country to start organizations in California before leap-frogging back and forth to create chapters and similar organizations around the country.

It was Emilie Schuyler, who came to North Texas from New York, who brought this new idea of animal welfare to this area.

“She was advocating for animals in a very modern way, long before any other animal group I am aware of in Texas,” Davies said. “She was looking at protecting the animals from people, rather than protecting people from animals. Emilie Schuyler was the one who brought that sensibility to North Texas.”

Schuyler got the state charter for the Dallas Humane Society in 1938 and remained involved with the organization until her death. The organization which she helped found, Davies said, has gone through a series of name changes, including the spelled-out Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of North Texas to its current, official, name: SPCA of Texas.

Davies also pointed out that while there are a number of organizations with “SPCA” and “Humane Society” in their names, and even though many if not all grew out of the same original organizations, each one is now it’s own independent entity.

SPCA of Texas has also moved through a series of facilities, and now has three locations: Jan Rees-Jones Animal Care Center and Myron K. Martin Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinic at 2400 Lone Star Drive in Dallas; Russell H. Perry Animal Care Center and Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinic, 8411 Stacy Road (FM 720) in McKinney; and Mary Spencer Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinic at Village Fair, 4830 Village Fair Drive in Dallas.

Steady growth

While Emilie Schuyler and those like her were unusual in their day for the way they looked at animal welfare, Davies notes that “the way that people treat and think of animals has really grown and changed, especially in the last 10 to 15 years. People realize now that these animals really are our family members. I mean, my human kids look at our pets as their siblings.

“I think society as a whole has reached that critical mass.”

And as that perspective has changed, the SPCA of Texas has continued to grow steadily.

“In 2016, we were a $15 million-a-year organization,” Davies said. “And while I don’t have any official numbers, I know we’ve grown tremendously this year.”

All of the organization’s funding, she added, comes from individuals, foundations and corporate sponsors instead of from public funds. The organization does occasionally receive a grant from a city, county or state agency, but those funds are limited to use in very specific programs and projects.

“We wouldn’t be here without our supporters,” Davies said. “And the tens of thousands of animals and their people that we help each year would go without that help without the generosity of our supporters.”

The southern Dallas surge

Over the last couple of years, especially, the dangers of dogs running loose, especially in southern Dallas neighborhoods, have made headlines and focused attention on the problem. In May 2016, a woman named Antoinette Brown died after being attacked by a pack of dogs. And Dowdy Ferry Road in Southeast Dallas has become known as a dumping ground for unwanted pets, especially ill, malnourished and abused dogs.

After Brown’s death, the city of Dallas hired the Boston Consulting Group, using donated funds, to “look at everything involved” and find solutions that would “truly make a difference; what would help protect people and animals and make this a healthier and happier community for all of us,” Davies said.

The BCG report found that, at any given time, there are some 8,700 dogs running loose in southern Dallas, and that the number of loose dogs has increased by about 15 percent annually since 2013. The report suggested that the best way to make the biggest impact in addressing the problem is to have at 45,000 animals spayed and neutered every year over a three-year period.

That’s where the SPCA of Texas and other participating agencies come in.

The aim of the Southern Dallas Spay/Neuter Surge — an effort undertaken by a coalition including SPCA of Texas, Spay/Neuter Network and Operation Kindness — has set a goal of spaying or neutering 50,000-60,000 animals per year in the 23 southern Dallas zip codes where the problem seems to be at its worst.

“This year, we’ve really expanded our work in offering free spaying, neutering and microchipping to people in those 23 zip codes,” Davies said, noting that the agency also helps pet owners in other ways, too.

“The goal is keeping pets in homes, off the streets and out of the shelters,” she said. “And when it comes to those who don’t have homes, the goal is to rescue them, heal them and find them homes.”

Rescue, heal, home

Pet adoptions is what most people think of then they think of SPCA, and most people think of dogs and cats when they think of pet adoptions. “We have all kinds of animals in our shelters,” Davies said. At the Jan Rees location, in addition to dogs and cats, they have adoptable pets rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets and even an occasional chinchilla. “We don’t have the capacity here to house birds or reptiles, so we work with other folks to house those animals,” she said.

But if you are looking to adopt larger livestock, SPCA has you covered, there, too — from pigs to horses and more.

A large part of the SPCA of Texas’ work is in rescuing lost, neglected and abused animals, and the organization’s investigators often work with animal cruelty investigators from city and county agencies to do that.

“Our animal cruelty investigators are a great team, and we have increased more than 90 percent in terms of the number of animals we have rescued,” Davies said. “We received just over 3,000 reports of abuse or neglect in 2016, and out of those, we rescued almost 2,300 animals. It was mostly dogs and cats, but there was a lot of livestock in there, too.”

When SPCA gets a report of animal neglect or abuse, the first step is to work with the owners, educating on how best to care for their animals, Davies said. “If that doesn’t work, we ask them to surrender the animals to us. But if that’s not possible or if the situation is dire, we work with law enforcement to get a warrant and go in and seize the animals,” she said.

There have, she added, been some unusual cases: “We rescued a stray tiger once,” Davies mentioned nonchalantly. “It was about 15 years ago. Someone called in to the sheriff’s office in Collin County and said, ‘Hey, there’s a stray tiger running around out here.’ The sheriff’s office deputies just laughed — yeah, right. But the caller’s like no, really. There’s a stray tiger.”

So SPCA of Texas workers helped catch the big cat and arranged to send it to a wild animal sanctuary.

“We have helped some other wild animals, too. And SPCA of Texas was part of what is still the largest rescue of its kind in the world,” Davies said.

She explained that PETA had sent someone in undercover to investigate an exotic animal importer in Arlington. After finding what Davies described as “some of the most horrific abuse we’ve ever seen,” that undercover investigator notified law enforcement, who called in SPCA for help.

The rescue, which took place in December 2009, involved 26,411 animals of more than 500 different species. “There were mice, rabbits, sloths, ring-tailed lemurs, wallabies, lizards, snakes, turtles. There were even some hermit crabs,” Davies said. “It took dozens and dozens of animal care technicians and veterinarians and zoo workers all coming together to handle it,” she added. “The hardest part was finding a spot where they could all be cared for. But when you get that many really caring, compassionate people together, you can do amazing things.”

Volunteering

And bringing together caring, compassionate people is how SPCA of Texas manages to do what it does. To help facilitate that, Davies said, the organization has recently revamped its volunteer programs.

“It’s pretty wonderful,” she said. “The new way is already making a huge difference. It’s really easy to register as a volunteer, and the number of volunteer hours is going up already.”

One of the most interesting new volunteer programs, Davies said, is the Borrow a Buddy program. “It is my favorite,” she said. “Once you are registered as a volunteer, you can be a Borrow a Buddy foster. That let’s you take a dog home for a night, or a weekend, or however long. It’s a short-term foster. It gives the dogs a chance to get out of the shelter for a bit, and it gives the volunteers the chance to give some love to a dog in need and help them stay healthier and happier.

“This shelter is a great place,” she added, “but we think all the pets really need to be in a home.”

The newly-revamped volunteer programming includes “a lot more cool stuff that’s coming but just isn’t ready yet,” Davies said. “We will soon have even more ways to help these pets be healthy, and happy, and find homes.”

For more information on the SPCA of Texas and its many programs and volunteer/sponsorship/donations opportunities — from adopting a pet to spaying, neutering and microchipping to grief counseling for those who have lost a pet — visit SPCA.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 14, 2017.

—  Tammye Nash

App – solutely!

New smart toy keeps dogs active, engaged

Dog-posing-with-GoBone

 

DAVID TAFFET | Senior Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Pamper-your-Pet-logo-(News)You use apps. Why shouldn’t your dog?

Chris Watts, owner of Petropolitan, said Santiago Gutierrez came in one day and asked if Watts were interested in seeing a new toy. Watts said, sure, he was always looking for something new.

What Gutierrez showed him was Go Bone, a smart toy for dogs. It wasn’t just new, it was revolutionary. Watts quickly offered his marketing skills.

Go Bone is a dog bone on wheels that can be programmed through an app for eight hours before needing a recharge. It can also be operated directly through the phone. And as far as Watts or Gutierrez know, no one has ever created a dog toy like it.

“Dogs find other ways to get in trouble,” Watts said. “Go Bone will keep them healthy and happy.”

Gutierrez is an engineer who has a miniature schnauzer that he loves. A lot. He spent lots of time with the dog on weekends, but wanted to find some way to engage with his pet during the week. So he came up with the idea of creating a smart bone.

“Being an engineer gave me a leg up in constructing a prototype,” Gutierrez said.

After the prototype was constructed, Gutierrez tested the Go Bone with friends and at shelters. He said dogs arrived at shelters scared and lonely, but when shelter workers put a Go Bone in the pen with them, the dogs became engaged. People who work with the animals said those dogs tended to be adopted.

At home, what happens if a dog chews up the Go Bone? At $169, that can be expensive to replace. Gutierrez said the wheels and outer core of the bone are replaceable, and the electronics inside are well protected. So replacing parts isn’t a major investment.

In addition to keeping pets who have to be left alone during the day engaged, the Go Bone is great for disabled vets and others who think they can’t have pets due to disabilities. They may not be able to exercise their dogs by taking them for long walks, but the Go Bone will help keep the dogs active, Watts and Gutierrez noted.

Watts said the Go Bone works in hospitals to help children who can’t get out of bed to play with therapy dogs.

Go Bone and its replacement parts are manufactured in Dallas. More than 3,000 have already been sold and Watts is looking for retailers to carry the item. Until then, it’s available at Petropolitan, 2406 Emmett St. at Hampton Road. It’s also available online at MyGoBone.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 14, 2017.

—  David Taffet

A wild ass: the perfect gift?

Both the Dallas and Fort Worth zoos have animal ‘adoptio’n programs that contribute to animal upkeep

Hippo

DAVID TAFFET | Senior Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Pamper-your-Pet-logo-(News)You can’t take your newly-adopted animal home or name it, because the animals already have names, and your home probably isn’t equipped to house them. But you can “adopt” some pretty exotic critters through your local zoo.

Both Dallas Zoo and Fort Worth Zoo have animal adoption programs that allow patrons to “adopt” an animal to help defray the cost of feeding and caring for that animal for a year. And both zoos hope you’ll consider supporting one or more of their animals.

Dallas Zoo

Adhama and Boipelo are available for adoption at the Dallas Zoo. The hippo couple that met just before their new habitat opened are madly in love, and Dallas Zoo would love for fans to adopt them.

Dallas Zoo’s $50 Adopt-An-Animal special includes a personalized adoption certificate, a zookeeper’s report, a small plush hippo and a special invitation to an event at the zoo. Best of all, you’ll also have the comfort of knowing you helped give some of Dallas’ newest and largest residents a warm welcome by supporting their care.

On its website, Dallas Zoo lists the annual fees for adopting various of its animal residents. A Bolivian Grey Titi Monkey or a Rock Hyrax are available for a $25 adoption fee. Among the $50 animals are a meerkat, a mongoose or a golden lion tamarin. Just $100 will get you an impala or an ocelot. More expensive is a giraffe for $1,500 or an elephant for $2,000.

Lots of other animals at Dallas Zoo need adopting too, and annual fees range from $25 to $2,000. For instance, here’s a perfect way of saying I love you: adopt a Somali wild ass for just $500.

To adopt an animal at Dallas Zoo, go to DallasZoo.com and navigate to the Adopt an Animal under Support the Zoo.

Fort Worth Zoo

The Fort Worth Zoo’s adoption package is available online at FortWorthZoo.org/adoptions.

Adoption packages begin at $25 and run through $500. Animals currently in need of adoption include lions and tiger and a hippopotamus. Unlike Dallas Zoo’s adoptions, animals may be shared by multiple adopters, so portions of larger animals may be purchased for lower prices.

If adopting as a gift, a card will be sent to the recipient along with your personalized message.

The Fort Worth Zoo spends more than $1 million a year feeding its residents. The adoptions help defray the cost of food for one animal for one year.

The $40 adoption package includes a plush animal, a color photo of the adopted animal, a fact sheet about the animal and an animal carrier box.

A $75 Dive In and Adopt All the Coolest Animals Around package includes four plush animals — an alligator, clown fish, river otter and sea turtle — as well as a Big Squirt water toy, beach bucket and adoption certificate and information sheets.

Special packages are available for Fort Worth Zoo’s babies — Gus, a gorilla, and Belle and Bowie, baby elephants.

Adoptions may also be done by phone at 817-759-7372.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 14, 2017.

—  David Taffet