Director of Community Relations at the Humane Society Brooke Farrell said they are receiving an abundance of unwanted dogs every day, whether they’ve been wandering the streets or a family cannot afford to keep their pet because they need to feed their children. The Humane Society of Central Texas has many programs to support strays, but a local business has decided to pitch in where they can.
Street Dog Cafe was created by Danielle Young, owner of Revival Eastside Eatery, to showcase street dogs to her customers in hopes of the dog becoming adopted.
Every week, Farrell brings a dog from the shelter to Elm Avenue. They walk around the block, grab some fresh air and make a pit stop at Street Dog Cafe. At the cafe, Young or one of her workers will have a photoshoot with the dog to make sure they have updated photos for their online profile and their picture is posted to the cafe’s social media pages.
“If we get one dog some good highlights and get them adopted, or someone can volunteer,” Young said, “that’s something small, but something that we can do as humans.”
Whichever dog of the week is chosen, their polaroid goes up onto the cafe wall which is purposefully placed next to the chalkboard menu. While the dog is at the cafe, Young and Farrell are asking customers who are entering or exiting the building if they’re interested in adoption.
“Having a fellow animal lover and advocate in our community who has done so much personal work and helping street dogs find loving homes outside of the sheltering system, we don’t take offense to that whatsoever,” Farrell said. “As long as dogs are loved and cared for, we don’t care what method that happens, we would actually prefer them not to have to come into the shelter.”
Currently, there are over 300 dogs available for adoption at the shelter. Farrell said she understands not everyone can adopt but there are opportunities to foster animals, volunteer your time and even donate pet food. The Humane Society has a pet food pantry to support pet owners who are struggling financially.
“Each week we receive hundreds of pounds of pet food donations so that it can go right back out the door,” Farrell said. “It’s pretty incredible seeing how we’ll get like massive pallets donated at a time and within a week, will all be gone. And then we just have to trust that community will provide.”
Since the Humane Society is a nonprofit, this program is solely kept afloat by the community and serves approximately 600 local pets. The shelter accepts all types of pet food such as wet, dry and age-related recipes.
What the cafe and the Humane Society have in common is they’re underdogs. Because in a way, the cafe was once a street dog too.
Street Dog Cafe used to be home to Lula Jane’s, a bakery that served East Waco for nine years and closed in 2021.
“We had really special memories for us. I wrote my dissertation at that table over there,” Young said. “When they were busy, I’d pop up and help them serve customers, so this place just had a lot of sweet memories.”
Once the public caught wind of Lula Jane’s going out of business the murmurs of what it would become caught Young’s ears. As Young thought of someone else owning this building she said she became sad that it could possibly be a reality — so she bought it.
“Development is happening,” Young said. “We want to be a part of that.”
Infrastructural development isn’t the only progress Street Dog Cafe has contributed to; it has also created a friendship between Farrell and Young that wouldn’t have been possible if Young’s contractor hadn’t introduced the two to one another.
“Danielle, and I worked pretty closely side by side each week in helping highlight a weekly dog on our social media,” Farrell said. “I feel like every time we see each other, we’re dreaming up new ways of how we can help support each other more and more and how we can build this naturally beautiful partnership to help reach even more people in our shared love for this mission.”
Every week Street Dog Cafe will post a new pup that is ready for fostering or adoption. To see these sweet shelter dogs, follow the cafe on Facebook. To volunteer, donate or view current pets in the shelter visit the Humane Society’s website.
“I do think that Waco really loves a mission,” Young said. “And so for us, that’s the fun idea of how we can partner and hopefully get dogs adopted or fostered, so that’s part of our goal.”