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UT Dallas student gets six-plus years in prison for cruelty to animals

Animal News

A student at the University of Texas at Dallas was convicted of animal cruelty in what one investigator called one of the worst cases of animal torture they've seen.

Shubhankar Kawle was found guilty of Cruelty to Non-Livestock Animals - Torture, a 3rd Degree Felony, at a criminal jury trial that concluded Thursday, August 31 at the Hunt County Courthouse, 354th Judicial District Court.

He was sentenced to six and a half years in prison without probation and immediately taken into custody.

Kawle was found guilty for torturing at least two cats, one so extensively that the cat had to be euthanized.

According to a release from the SPCA, the investigation began in October 2021, when a Hunt County Sheriff’s Deputy was dispatched to a residence in Quinlan to investigate a complaint of animal cruelty. The complainant informed the Deputy that they had noticed their two cats being injured in odd and sometimes severe ways.

When one of the complainant’s cats was injured to the point of needing its leg amputated, they set up a nanny camera in their residence.

On Saturday, October 9, 2021, the camera recorded Kawle torturing the complainant’s other cat, Nimbus, over a period of five hours. This cat was ultimately euthanized due to her extensive injuries.

The investigation continued through October 14, during which investigators observed several signs of extreme abuse, including stains on the walls of the residence and a metal rod. They obtained radiographs and medical history from the vet clinic that had humanely euthanized the cat and determined that the cat’s injuries were consistent with the abuse seen on video footage.

On October 15, 2021, SPCA of Texas Chief Investigator Courtney Burns filed an arrest warrant for Kawle, who was arrested on October 20, 2021, by the University of Texas at Dallas Police, where he attended class. He was transported to Lew Sterrett Jail, where he was charged with Cruelty to Non-Livestock Animals – Torture. He was released under a $50,000 bond.

The SPCA of Texas Animal Cruelty Investigations Unit provided testimony at the trial, where the video was played as evidence.

"Torturing an animal is inhumane and illegal, and what Mr. Kawle did to Nimbus was not only horrific and heartbreaking, but one of the single worst cases of animal torture I’ve seen in my career," said Chief Investigator Burns. "I'm pleased to see the perpetrator of this heinous crime brought to justice."

A 3rd Degree Felony in Texas carries a prison sentence of two to 10 years. Additionally, there is a documented link between animal cruelty and human violence. When animals are abused, people are at risk; when people are abused, animals are at risk.

The SPCA of Texas has a team of Animal Cruelty Investigators who carry Peace Officer commissions and have the authority to investigate, file charges and make arrests in cases of animal cruelty. The SPCA of Texas has Memoranda of Understanding to support animal cruelty investigations in Hunt and Van Zandt Counties.

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Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas switches to more humane techniques​


In what is being hailed as a win for pigs, physicians, and patients, the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center has stopped using an inhumane technique.

According to a release, the medical center has curtailed the use of live pigs for invasive medical procedures in its OB/GYN residency-training programs, and has replaced them with animal-free methods.

Definitely a big win for pigs.

The institution discontinued the practice in response to overtures from PETA, as well as physicians.

PETA initially contacted UT Southwestern in 2021 as part of an ongoing survey of animal use in OB/GYN residency programs, and discovered that OB/GYN physician residents there routinely performed invasive procedures on live pigs, including laparoscopic hysterectomies, retroperitoneal dissections, and tissue morcellations, all described on the school’s website.

According to records obtained by PETA, residents performed invasive procedures on at least 13 live pigs.

PETA VP Shalin Gala thanked UT Southwestern for "ending its gruesome OB/GYN training methods in which live animals were mutilated" and making the more humane shift.

Beyond the cruelty aspect, pigs' anatomy is not the same as humans', and therefore a less effective way for physician residents to become familiar with human anatomical structures - versus animal-free methods which can simulate real medical situations, and provide students the opportunity to repeat procedures until they’re proficient.

In addition, federal provisions require that animal use be replaced when possible.

UT Southwestern joins dozens of OB/GYN residency programs across the country — including Rush University and Aurora Sinai Medical Center — in its use of animal-free methods such as in vitro systems, computer simulations, and high-fidelity human-patient simulators.

According to the release, there is still one notable slacker: Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon. Whose director by the way is from El Paso. Come on, don't make the Class of 2024 have to mutilate live animals.

“PETA urges other institutions, including Oregon Health & Science University, to follow UT Southwestern’s lead by embracing superior, non-animal technology that allows OB/GYN trainees to repeat invasive procedures until they’re confident and adept,” PETA VP Gala says.


Generous groups offer free microchips for pets in Little Elm

Animal News

Pet owners of Little Elm are in line to get something valuable for free: Texas Coalition for Animal Protection (TCAP), Friends of the Little Elm Animal Shelter (FLEAS), and Hula Hut of Little Elm are partnering on an event to provide free microchips for cats and dogs.

Microchips are a method to identify your dog that is tamper-proof. A pet microchip is the size of a grain of rice, and goes beneath your pet's skin.

If pets get lost, a vet can check the microchip with a scanner. Radio waves put out by the scanner activate the chip. The chip transmits the ID number to the scanner, which displays the number on the screen. The pet can be reunited with its owner.

"Microchips work!" proclaims one DFW-area shelter, citing the latest example, stating, "Today we picked up a pug running stray. We scanned for a microchip and contacted the owner. Much to our dismay, Chato has been stolen from his owners months ago! We were so happy to be able to reunite these two!!"

The cost for a microchip from a vet clinic averages about $45 to $60. TCAP generally offers them at a discount price of $30. But thanks to funding from FLEAS and Hula Hut, microchips will be offered to Little Elm area pets for free. This offer includes the lifetime registration of the microchip via HomeAgain’s National Pet Recovery Database.

According to microchip manufacturer HomeAgain, one in three pets will go missing during their lifetime. Without proper ID, 90 percent won't return home.

This initiative, which will take place September 2 at the Little Elm Animal Shelter, aims to keep pets and their people together by subsidizing the cost of this service. It's from The Texas Coalition for Animal Protection (TCAP), a nonprofit that provides low-cost spay/neuter, vaccine, and wellness services to underserved communities across North Texas.

In addition to free microchipping, TCAP will offer low-cost vaccinations and wellness services for cats and dogs during the event. That includes a rabies vaccine for only $5.

"We are thrilled to partner with Friends of the Little Elm Animal Shelter to bring this special event to the community," says TCAP executive director Stacey Schumacher. "At TCAP, our mission is to end pet overpopulation and euthanasia. This event directly correlates to our mission by ensuring lost pets can return home and aren't euthanized in overloaded shelters."

When: September 2 from 10 am-12 pm.

Where: Little Elm Animal Shelter, at 1605 Mark Tree Ln.


Tiger confined in backyard seized from Dallas home in cruelty investigation

Animal News

In another sad case of animal cruelty in Dallas, a tiger was found confined in a backyard cage in southeast Dallas.

The tiger has been seized, along with a menagerie of other animals commonly used in illegal fighting rings.

According to a release from the Dallas Police Department, Dallas Police executed four search warrants in an animal cruelty investigation on August 25 in the 5700 block of Johnson Lane.

Police were initially investigating a rooster and dog-fighting operation. While executing one of the warrants in that investigation, they found the tiger in an enclosure on the property.

Officers also seized dogs, roosters, and chickens.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement and Texas Parks And Wildlife Department are assisting in the investigation.

The Dallas Zoo and Dallas Animal Services are also assisting the department.

Charges are pending and the investigation is ongoing.

Unfortunately, Texas is stupid and allows residents to own lions and tigers, as long as they register their animals with local authorities and register with the Department of State Health and Human Services. They're also supposed to carry a minimum of $100,000 in liability insurance.

There are also caging requirements: Each tiger needs at least 300 square feet of space and an 8 foot fence. This cage must be covered but not if that enclosure is more than 1,000 square feet.

The 5700 block of Johnson Lane is outside Loop 12 but inside I-20, east of 342, west of I-45, in a backwater rural zone about a mile from Paul Quinn College.

Quorum Architects, Inc.

Dallas animal pros propose new shelter with more modern, humane design

Animal News

The storied history of public animal control and sheltering in Dallas is preparing for its next chapter, with a proposed $114 million facility seeking to be part of the city's $1 billion city bond election in May 2024.

As part of a campaign for new quarters, leaders of Dallas Animal Services, the city’s publicly funded animal shelter and control department, are stressing the space strains being placed on its facility off I-30 and Westmoreland Road in West Dallas, which opened in 2007.

A larger in-house clinic, more room for visitors, and space for holding classes and seminars on animal care would be part of the proposed 120,000-square-foot compound, about double the spread of the current location.

"Other cities in this country have better facilities, more progressive facilities," Rachael Gearing, a member of the city’s appointed Animal Advisory Commission, said in a commission meeting on August 24. "It will make a huge difference. If we all love animals, why wouldn’t we want a new facility?”

Voters in several DFW towns and counties agree, as they have approved new or renovated animal services in Carrollton, Rowlett, and Garland in the past four years.

Voters in Houston and San Antonio last year also approved bond packages that included millions in funding for animal services. Collin County will ask voters to sign off on a $6 million expansion of its animal shelter in November as part of a $700 million bond package.

Preliminary design of the Dallas animal service building includes a central building with pod-like animal quarters, more parking, and expanded outdoor areas.

Outdoor space has become particularly important in shelter design, with play areas used as a way to help animals decompress and present better to potential adopters. According to the proposed conceptual design by Quorum Architects, Inc, the outdoor spaces will consist of more than 60,000 square feet for outdoor runs, meet & greet playyards, and exercise yards.

The new facility would be located on land owned by the city’s parks department about a mile away from the current building.

DAS shelterOutdoor spaces will consist of over 60,000 square feet for outdoor runs, meet & greet playyards, and exercise yards. Quorum

But first, the concept needs to be included on the bond package.

“This is not even a slam dunk to be on the ballot,” says MeLissa Webber, director of Dallas Animal Services.

The shelter will compete with other department pitches for a spot in the bond package, such as funding for streets, parks, flood control, and economic development. Recommendations will be presented to the city council in December.

The animal services need is driven, Webber said, by both time and traffic.

"The current Dallas Animal Services was built when the world was a different place, and this was more about catching stray dogs and holding them until their owner could get them," says Webber, who came to Dallas after working in similar roles in Los Angeles, New York, and San Diego. "It was public safety and strays rather than life-saving programs."

In 2018, a "Dallas90" plan was established to use innovative operations and increase community engagement. The plan spurred new volunteer and foster programs aimed at increasing the number of adoptions and bringing down the number of euthanized animals.

"All of these programs are in place, and they take people to run them," Webber says. "So my foster and rescue team[s] are working out of a storage closet."

The shelter has 300 kennels, and on a recent afternoon, cages were set in hallways to accommodate the overflow, a reported 385 dogs in residence in July. Parking has for years been a problem at the facility and even on a slow day, the spaces are limited.

The design and creation of a new facility was one of the department goals Webber was tasked with by the City Manager's office when she took her position in 2021. She's the shelter's third director in the last decade; the turnover rate for shelter managers is high. Her master plan was published as a part of the 2023-2024 budget book.

"This is a shelter that would take us into 2050 and beyond,” Webber says. "I won't be around then, so it's for the city of Dallas, it's for the animals. It's for Dallas Animal Services."

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Dallas nonprofit Art Conspiracy calls it quits after nearly 20 years

ArtCon is Gone

After nearly 20 years, Dallas nonprofit arts group Art Conspiracy (ArtCon) has ceased operations. In a release, the organization blamed the pandemic.

“Before the pandemic, ArtCon was facing mounting pressures in the search for event spaces and navigating growing costs that were hindering our model, which was already challenged by its all-volunteer structure and role as a ‘pass-through’ organization that donates all the funds it raises,” said Geoff Barry, president of the board, in a statement.

“COVID-19 effectively ended our ability to evolve around these limitations, stopping us from not only putting on our signature annual fundraisers, but also from building a steady pipeline of volunteer leadership to execute them. It saddens us to end this important work, and we’re proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish over the years - not just the money raised, but also the many connections made and collaborations that have been born from them, which live on. We know we’ve made a positive and lasting difference in North Texas, among our community of artists, our audience, and our beneficiaries.”

The group was known for its annual live auction featuring the work of local artists plus performances by local musicians. The proceeds were donated to beneficiaries such as Children’s Health Fund, Volunteers of America’s Resolana program, W.T. White High School, Girls Rock Dallas, Anita M. Martinez Ballet Folklorico, and Cry Havoc Theater Company.

In closing, ArtCon made a final donation of $6,000 to Foundation 45, which provides mental health and recovery services to the Dallas-Fort Worth creative community. They were supposed to be the beneficiary for ArtCon 15, which was to have taken place in fall 2019 but was postponed due to staffing issues.

Although ArtCon no longer exists, they are encouraging support of Foundation 45's next fundraising event, “Art of the Guitar” on Saturday, October 21, a live auction of over 45 local artist-decorated guitars.

The iOS app Art Con remains available in the Apple Store for anyone wishing to seek out and connect with the artists and musicians who have participated in ArtCon over its history.

These are the 8 best food and drink events in Dallas this week

This Week in Gluttony

There are two anniversary parties this week and both feature food and drink specials along with live music – one from '80s cover bands and the other from a powerhouse in Texas country music.

Meanwhile, Oktoberfest season is winding down, but there are two opportunities this week enjoy German-inspired eats and beer before the festival ends.

Tuesday, September 26

Lori’s Day at Newk’s Eatery
Mississippi-based sandwich, salad, and soup will celebrate its third annual ovarian cancer fundraiser in honor of Lori Newcomb, wife of Newk’s founder Chris Newcomb, who lost her battle with the disease in 2019. Through Newk’s Cares, founded by Lori in 2014 after her diagnosis, all locations will donate 20 percent of sales to Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance. Newk’s has locations in Frisco and Plano.

Wednesday, September 27

Cheers to 10 Years at The Rustic with Pat Green
Dallas bar, restaurant, and live music venue owned in part by Texas country music icon Pat Green will throw a 10th anniversary party featuring the superstar himself in concert. There’ll be drink specials and giveaways from Espolon Tequila and Eight Elite Light Lager, with a special appearance by Eight founder Troy Aikman. Doors open at 5:30 pm and concert opener Dalton Torres will take the stage at 8 pm. Tickets are $27 per person, plus a fee.

Laurent-Perrier Champagne Pop-Up Dinner at Knife Plano
Four-course dinner with Naomi Smith from the Champagne House of Laurent-Perrier features some of their new and exclusive offerings paired with Knife's classic seafood dishes. Courses include Yellowtail Crudo, paired with Laurent Perrier La Cuvee Brut; Arugula Salad and Iberico Ham with Laurent Perrier Brut 2012; Snapper, Asparagus, and Fingerling Potato with Laurent Pierrier Rose; and Banana, Bourbon & Dulce Dessert with Laurent Perrier Harmony Demi Sec. It starts at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $150, book at Resy.

Thursday, September 28

40th Anniversary Party at Aw Shucks
All five locations of the Aw Shucks and Big Shucks oyster bar chain (Dallas, Richardson, Lewisville, and Frisco) will host a throwback Thursday 80s-themed anniversary party featuring discounted menu items. Specials include a $19.83 platter of crab and shrimp boil, $19.83 dozen oysters on the half shell, $3.83 margaritas, and $2.83 draft beers. Born in 1983? You get a free slice of key lime pie. There’ll also be 80s cover bands at all locations from 5–9 pm. Break out the big hair and leg warmers because there’ll be costume contests for prizes, too.

Yappy Hour at Ellie’s
The terrace at Ellie’s inside the Hall Arts Hotel will welcome four-legged friends and their humans during this rooftop happy hour. Visit from 5–7 pm for specialty drinks and bites and to meet other Dallas-area dog lovers. Admission is free and valet parking is $5.

Basil Hayden Whiskey Dinner at Bourbon & Banter
Statler Dallas restaurant will host a four-course bourbon-pairing dinner featuring Kentucky-based Basil Hayden whiskey. Menu items include spinach & roasted red pepper-stuffed chicken, steelhead trout en papillote, grilled flat iron steak with truffle potatoes, and Basil Hayden chocolate pot de crème. The dinner is $85 per person, plus tax and gratuity, and begins at 7 pm.

Friday, September 29

Oktoberfest at Harwood Arms
The party will start early at 11 am for all-day specials including $22 beer steins ($8 refills) and German cuisine including Bavarian sausages, chicken schnitzel sandwiches, and potato pancakes. There’ll be live music starting at 6 pm along with two stein-holding competitions at 5 pm and 8 pm. Admission is free.

Monday, October 2

Oktoberfest Beer Dinner at Urban Crust
Plano wood-fired pizza kitchen will celebrate Oktoberfest with a four-course German-themed beer dinner. Tickets are $65 per person, including tax and gratuity, and the dinner will begin at 6:30 pm.

Aw Shucks restaurant on Lower Greenville in Dallas, circa 1983
Photo courtesy of Aw Shucks
A local oyster bar chain will throw it back to the 80s with an anniversary party.

New Irish pub with very authentic name opens in downtown Dallas

Pub News

Downtown Dallas has a new Irish pub: Called Patrick Kennedy’s Irish Pub, it's on the ground floor of the Downtown Westin Hotel at 1201 Main St. #100, where it replaces NOLA Brasserie, a New Orleans-themed restaurant that was previously at the hotel that closed in May. It opened in mid-September.

Patrick Kennedy's is the latest sibling in a family of Irish pubs from Irish native Alan Kearney that includes Playwright Irish Pub in Dallas Arts District, The Crafty Irishman Public House in downtown Dallas, Trinity College Irish Pub in Fort Worth, and Cannon’s Corner Irish Pub in Oak Cliff. Got all the neighborhoods covered.

This makes the second Irish pub downtown for Kearney, but Crafty Irishman is small and customers are already overflowing. Patrick Kennedy's has 6,500 square feet, with a large high bar, table & booth seating, and a wrap-around outdoor patio.

"This location is a great spot for our concept! We’ve been waiting for something of this size for a while," Kearney says in a statement.

To create a cozy atmosphere, Kearney and his team built out wood walls separating the space into rooms, installed fireplaces, and added Irish paraphernalia for something of interest in every nook.

"Kennedy’s is nestled into a corner that welcomes many tourists into Dallas with hotels and visiting attractions all around," Kearney says. "We aim to be the spot for residents, downtown workers and traveling tourists. A melting pot of customers — giving a wink to the American dream!”

Patrick Kennedy’s Irish Pub is named for JFK’s great-grandfather, Patrick Kennedy, whose coming to America was a classic immigrant tale that mirrors Kearney's story, as well.

The menu includes

  • French Onion Soup served in a hollowed-out onion & Pub Chicken and Mushroom Vol Au Vents served in a puff pastry
  • Traditional Irish Breakfast
  • Scotch Eggs

New Ross Sheperd’s Pie and Howth Beer-Battered Fish and Chips are flown in weekly. They also do weekend brunch and Happy Hour with fancy offerings include Irishman Red Ale pints, domestic bottled beers, house wines, well liquor as well as specialty drinks like the Irish Mule, Car Bomb, Green Tea shots and Baby Guinness Shots, Monday-Friday from 2–7 pm. Plus bites including Galway Bay Mussels, Corned Beef & Cabbage Rolls, Irish Nachos, Public House Pretzel, Boneless Wings and Spicy Wisconsin Cheese Curds from 2– 6 pm.