Arthouse Tattoo raises donations for animal welfare through pet tattoos

John Melendez

As animal lovers walked out of ArtHouse Tattoo this past weekend, they left with fresh ink on their bodies and a receipt for a charitable donation they had just made. 

On Sunday, dog and cat lovers alike had the opportunity to give back to the animal rescue community at the seventh Cause for Paws Tattoopalooza hosted by ArtHouse Tattoo. For four hours, the shop gave participants small, pet-related tattoos. All proceeds, tips and donations went to nonprofit Austin Pets Alive!.

The organization played a large role in advocating for the No-Kill Plan that the Austin City Council approved in March 2010. Austin is the largest no-kill city in the U.S. This means they save at least 90 percent of the animals that enter the Austin Animal Center. By February of 2011, the city had reached and surpassed this rate.

Tanya Metaxa, co-owner of ArtHouse Tattoo, said she knew she wanted to organize an event when she and her husband, Mike Metaxa, moved from New York to Austin and discovered how visible the animal rescue community is. The couple has two dogs, Maximus and Stewart, the latter of which they adopted from Austin Pets Alive! in January. 

“In Austin, (animal lovers are) everywhere,” Tanya said. “There are cats outside, everyone walking their dogs and usually, (they’re walking) more than one. It’s great that many businesses in Austin allow (you) to bring in your pets, and it’s a completely different story from New York.”

Katera Berent, communications and events manager for Austin Pets Alive!, said the money raised by ArtHouse Tattoo helps with the daily care of animals in their care or foster systems. She said a donation of $10 directly benefits the animals with basic medical care and necessities such as food.

“It’s organizations like ArtHouse Tattoo that have allowed us to keep our doors open because they’re so dedicated to our mission of no-kill,” Berent said. “It’s people like Tanya who are actually on the ground and putting in the work.” 

Mike Metaxa, co-owner and primary tattoo artist for ArtHouse Tattoo, said he is passionate about no-kill because pets can play such a pivotal role in family life. 

“Getting Maximus was probably the best thing I did for my kids,” Mike said. “Pets actually make people better and make their life longer. It’s just a permanent stress removal. They need us and we need them.”

Attendee Justin Smith said he and his fiancée Cassandra Johnston decided to participate because they are both passionate about animal welfare. He said having pets has been a source of happiness during troubling times. 

“We’ve both been going through some really difficult situations in our professional lives,” Smith said. “When you adopt a pet, you get to know that pet together. After a hard day’s work, I don’t care what happened that day (once) I get to spend time with our pets.” 

Johnston said she sees no point in increasing the pet population when there are so many animals who need a home.

“They’re usually such sweet animals that have had a tough life,” Johnston said. “I feel like it is more rewarding to spoil them, treat them really well and give them a reward for what they’ve been through.”