Axios San Antonio

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☕ Tuesday is here. Pour yourself that extra cup of coffee.

Today's weather: Beautiful. Sunny and a high near 69.

ğŸŽ™ï¸ Sounds like: "Edge of Seventeen" by Stevie Nicks.

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Today's newsletter is 853 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Integrating social work into animal care

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Richard Menchaca's pets are part of his family. He lives alone with dogs Tweety Bird, Trixie and Princess and a cat named Little Lion in his apartment on the West Side.

  • But it's been harder to care for his pets since his wife passed away. Menchaca, who has limited mobility, uses a wheelchair and lives on his Social Security income.

What's happening: Once a month, Menchaca gets a visit from Paul Trujillo, a case coordinator with the Community Animal Support and Assistance team, or CASA, at the city's Animal Care Services. Trujillo recently stopped by to drop off some free cat food and to chat.

  • CASA approaches animal care in San Antonio from a social work perspective.

Why it matters: In a city with a high poverty rate, not everyone has the money or physical ability to keep up with pet care — even when they want to.

  • CASA aims to help, rather than punish, pet owners who have good intentions but don't know the details of — or struggle to meet — the city's animal welfare regulations.

Plus, CASA is an attempt at keeping more pets in their homes and out of the city shelter as the city's euthanasia rate has increased.

Details: CASA launched in July 2022 and is made up of four case coordinators and one case manager. They can provide supplies like appropriate outdoor tethers and get animals microchipped.

How it works: ACS staff will reroute a neglect call to the CASA team if it seems that the pet owner just needs more resources or education.

  • Each CASA member is a certified animal care officer. That means they can still give a citation to someone if they aren't cooperating or if it's believed to be an instance of willful neglect.

The big picture: Not everyone welcomes the CASA team with open arms.

  • Team members have a long way to go to overcome a trust barrier with a community that sometimes assumes ACS officers will cite them or take their pets away.

State of play: The CASA team works with owners who request to surrender their pets to ACS for non-medical reasons, offering them resources instead.

Reality check: Euthanasia at the city-run ACS was still skyrocketing as the CASA team got to work, reaching its highest level in more than a decade last year.

The bottom line: CASA's success hinges on the rapport team members build with clients in addition to free supplies or services.

  • "When we hear those stories, we're able to meet people where they're at," Kate Powell, who manages the CASA team, tells Axios.

Keep reading

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2. Inside the Loop

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

📺 A new docuseries will share the perspective of the woman convicted of killing Selena Quintanilla.

  • The series with Yolanda Saldivar's view will premiere on Oxygen True Crime on Feb. 17 and will be available to stream on Peacock. (MySA)

🏛️ The Texas Historical Commission approved a plan to reconstruct part of the Woolworth lunch counter, which helped desegregate San Antonio, at the upcoming Alamo Visitor Center and Museum. (Express-News 🔒)

ğŸŽ¸ Stevie Nicks will perform at the Frost Bank Center on May 18. Tickets go on sale at 10am Friday. (KENS 5)

3. S.A. snapshots: A moment of serenity

The grotto on a perfectly sunny Saturday afternoon. Photo: Madalyn Mendoza/Axios

👋 Madalyn here with a place I've been going to clear my mind since I was a teenager, the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto.

Context: The grotto is a replica of the Our Lady of Lourdes shrine in France.

  • Built in 1941, it's the "most perfect" replica of the original in the U.S., according to the local grotto's website.

Yes, but: While the sacred space is rooted in Catholicism, people of any belief are welcome to sit and have a moment to themselves.

  • It's a perfect, quiet place to take in the beautiful weather we've been having.

Of note: There's also an area to light and leave a devotional candle, which can be purchased at the grotto gift shop a few feet away.

  • "Tepeyac de San Antonio," a tribute to the Our Lady of Guadalupe shrine in Mexico City, is also on the property.

Find it: 5712 Blanco Road.

  • Open daily.

4. Tell us about your favorite taqueria

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

San Antonians all have their favorite taco shops — and it's usually the one closest to them.

Yes, but: Our Axios colleagues in San Diego recently tested the theory that residents there prefer the second-closest taco shop to them.

Tell us: Is that ridiculous, or is there some truth to wanting to travel slightly farther for a good taco?

💭 Megan's thought bubble: This city has some clear favorites that are listed time and time again in all the "best of" and national lists: Garcia's Mexican Food, Maria's Cafe, Original Donut Shop and Con Huevos.

  • I'll travel a little more to hit up these spots anytime.

💌 Hit reply to this email (or find us at [email protected]) and tell us about your favorite taqueria.

  • Bonus points if you tell us whether it's the closest to you, second-closest or even farther away.
  • We'd also love to hear your go-to order.

What's next: We'll compile a list of all your favorites.

Thanks to our editor Chloe Gonzales and copy editors Steven Patrick and Yasmeen Altaji.

Congratulations to Anne F., the winner of our Friday news quiz and an Axios San Antonio tote bag!

  • If you missed it, look out for this week's quiz for another chance to win.

💘 Madalyn is excited to start planning Galentine's Day celebrations with her friends.

ğŸ˜ž Megan watched "Maestro" and was disappointed. She thinks it's the least interesting of all the incredible 2024 Best Picture nominations at the Oscars this year.