San Antonio Unites to Conquer Pet Overpopulation

Grants boost San Antonio’s spay/neuter options

Read the previous chapter: Expanding San Antonio’s adoption outreach

Dachshund puppies in line at spay/neuter clinicWhile adoptions are a key part of San Antonio’s initiatives to save lives, not everyone “adopts” from an animal shelter. Many residents, like Eddie and Martin, “adopt” their dogs right off the streets. Irene Sanchez, a mother of 5-month-old twins, adopted Willie and Daisy from a family friend whose dachshund had a litter of puppies.

Giving these newly acquired pets loving homes is the first step in the fight against overpopulation. Next, cats and dogs need to be spayed or neutered so they won’t contribute to the homeless pet population.

But with just 1 full-time spay/neuter clinic and 2 part-time clinics in 2004, San Antonio could provide only about 8,000 surgeries annually for cats and dogs. The city’s groups couldn’t perform enough spay/neuter surgeries to reduce pet overpopulation.

SNAP San Antonio is one example. “We were limited on the number of pets we could take in a day,” said Dr. Mary Kate Lawler, former medical director and current executive director for SNAP San Antonio. “We might only get around 100 cats and dogs sterilized in a week.”

It took a few years of planning, but in 2008, SNAP San Antonio used a PetSmart Charities® grant to open a stationary clinic to increase its surgical capacity. Dr. Lawler and her team fixed 9,100 cats and dogs at the new clinic in its first year. 

Woman hugging dog at spay/neuter clinicOver the next few years, PetSmart Charities provided equipment grants for new clinic startups and ongoing clinic expansions, and targeted spay/neuter grants to give low-income pet owners free and low-cost options. Marketing materials in both English and Spanish supported the programs.

SpaySA, the largest spay/neuter clinic in San Antonio, say their phones ring off the hook for appointments when PetSmart Charities spay/neuter campaigns are going on in the community. Another local group, SNIPSA (Spay-Neuter-Inject-Protect San Antonio), runs “Big Fix” clinics, which provide as many as 275 free spay/neuter surgeries in targeted neighborhoods in a single day. 

The final chapter: Residents and animal welfare groups unite, create lasting change

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