Hundreds of orphaned pets are getting the gift of a loving home for the holidays, thanks to an upscale retail center, caring shoppers and committed volunteers who are staffing Highland Village Adoption Center in Houston.

Highland Village Adoption Center (administered by Buster’s Friends) is located at 4056 Westheimer in approximately 7,000 square feet of prime commercial real estate next to Williams-Sonoma.  Haidar Barbouti, chief executive officer of Highland Village, has donated the use of the space indefinitely on a “no contract, no lease” basis. The value of the retail space is approximately $40,000 per month. The facility is staffed entirely by volunteers on an annual budget of about $100,000 contributed by friends and animal welfare advocates.   The adoption center does not receive public funding or grants from foundations.

Highland Village Adoption Center co-founder Tena Lundquist Faust estimates that 200 animals will be adopted from the facility this holiday season.   Since its opening as an experimental public-private partnership project during the 2007 holiday season, the center has matched more than 2,300 orphaned pets with new owners.  During three weekends in December 2007, 242 pets were adopted.  Working with other animal welfare groups, Highland Village Adoption Center organizers had another successful holiday season in 2008, finding homes for 158 more pets. Starting in January 2009, Highland Village Adoption Center has been open every weekend.

Hours of operation are noon. to 6 p.m. on Fridays, Dec. 10 and Dec. 17;  10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, Dec. 11 and Dec. 18; and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays, Dec. 12 and Dec. 19.  From Dec. 20 through Dec. 23, the adoption center will be open from noon to 6 p.m. On Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Highland Village Adoption Center will be closed on Christmas Day, Dec. 25.

Highland Village Adoption Center

“Location is truly the critical success factor in finding permanent homes for these innocent animals.  Highland Village Adoption Center is a perfect example of what can be accomplished when abandoned or surrendered animals are showcased in a storefront in a popular retail center in a desirable neighborhood,” commented Lundquist Faust.  “We have lots of doggies and kitties in the window! In fact, many of the people who have adopted our animals have found us while they were originally shopping for pots and pans or new shoes  — or they were simply going out for a meal!”

All of the pets available for adoption have been spayed or neutered, vaccinated and micro-chipped.  Prospective new owners must complete an application, go through a screening process, and pay a $95 adoption fee. New owners can return animals “no questioned asked” if needed, in which case the adoption fee will be fully refunded.

Lundquist Faust explained that about 99 percent of Highland Village Adoption Center’s dogs, puppies, cats and kittens are supplied by the City of Houston Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care (commonly known as BARC). BARC is the only animal shelter in the greater Houston area that cannot decline any animal for any reason. Many of the animals that find their way to BARC and then to Highland Village Adoption Center have been surrendered by their owners due to illness or economic hardships. Some are strays that did not have identification tags or remained unclaimed. Others have been confiscated or abandoned. Some are frail, ill or injured.

“Our tenants at Highland Village are extremely supportive of the pet adoption center. The feedback I get is all positive,” Barbouti said. “The adoption center brings out the best in shoppers and tenants. Shoppers enjoy stopping in on weekends to see the animals. Many simply can’t resist taking a cat or dog home with them.  I also hear about store clerks and managers who get personally involved in matching cats and dogs with their customers.”

Lundquist Faust suspects that the Highland Village Adoption Center concept could be replicated in any upscale retail district like New York’s Fifth Avenue, Chicago’s Michigan Avenue or Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive.

Barbouti, Lundquist Faust and her identical twin sister, Tama Lundquist, Deb Gebhardt and Angela Goodwin — all residents of the Houston area — recently were recognized by the City of Houston for the major role that Highland Village Adoption Center and these leaders have played in assisting BARC and the animals.

Contributions of food, pet supplies and funds can be made to Buster’s Friends, the non-profit agency that manages adoptions and animal care for Highland Village Adoption Center. (Please see or visit the Highland Village Adoption Center during hours of operation.)For more information on Highland Village Adoption Center, please contact Tena Lundquist Faust at 713-828-6304 or

For more information on Highland Village, please visit, call Patrice Benoit at 713-850-3100 x 110 or email