San Antonio Overcomes Pet Care Hurdles

Program provides low-cost care for furry family members

In San Antonio, Texas, residents living in underserved communities face significant challenges in providing for their pets. These people love and adore their pets as much as anyone. However, they may not have a car to drive their pets to a clinic or the money to get them vaccinated and fixed. Sometimes, people need temporary help with pet food.

San Antonio pet parents are finding support for their cats and dogs through the Pets for Life program. Fully funded by PetSmart Charities® since 2013, the program was developed by the Humane Society of the United States.

Through the program, a Pets for Life coordinator visits neighborhoods to meet one-on-one with pet parents about services they might need for their pets. Services often include providing transporation for pets to and from spay/neuter clinics so they can be fixed, vaccinated and microchipped — all free of charge.

Here’s how Pets for Life helps pets, families and neighborhoods.

Woman hugging chihuahua puppy

When Juan and Aurelia Cruz received a Chihuahua puppy named Negra as a gift from a neighbor, they couldn’t afford to get their new friend spayed. They were constantly worried about her getting pregnant. When a neighbor told them about the Pets for Life program, they called to make an appointment for Negra’s surgery. Now, Negra enjoys more freedom in her yard and the Cruz family knows that she’s healthy and happy.

“It’s easy to see how this could reduce stray dogs in our neighborhood. It’s been a lifesaver for us,” said Juan.


Woman reaching out to stray dog

When a stray chow/Lab mix began pacing up and down her street, Justina Cruz took the dog in and named her Pancho. Though the dog would never come completely into Justina’s house, she cared for Pancho dearly. But Pancho wasn’t fixed, and stray neighborhood dogs would enter Justina’s yard when Pancho was in heat. Justina didn’t have the money or a working vehicle and felt at a loss for options. Just a week later, she found a Pets for Life flyer on her front door and promptly arranged for Pancho’s surgery.

“I think it's very important to fix pets because there are so many strays out there,” said Justina. “I wish I could save them all.”


Elderly woman hugs dog in living room

At 92, Tomasa Peña still cares for her San Antonio home, the laundry and 2 dogs: Milo, a 13-year-old Chihuahua, and Bear, a 7-year-old chow/Lab mix. Tomasa received both dogs as gifts from friends and family because she lived alone. But on a fixed income, Tomasa couldn’t afford to get Milo and Bear neutered. When a friend told Tomasa about the Pets for Life program, she called right away.

“I love pets,” said Tomasa. “To me, everybody should have a dog, but take care of him. I never thought I was going to get this kind of help. But I'm so glad and so grateful for what they are doing for me.”


Man hugging dog in front yard

Eddie Jones and Martin Vazquez Saldana rescued 3 of their dogs off the streets in their neighborhood, which is overrun with homeless pets. One of the dogs was pregnant when they found her — and before long, this compassionate family had 6 puppies to feed, too.

Eddie and Martin have big hearts, but limited income — though they set aside money every month for their pets as best they can. Through the Pets for Life program, the couple found help with spay/neuter surgeries and vaccinations for their dogs.

“Neither one of us drives,” said Eddie. “So it was a big blessing that they came, picked the dogs up and brought them back. The dogs came back perfectly healthy. I thought the program was wonderful.”


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