West Texas Rescue Alliance – The Big Bend Sentinel

I’m Janine Bishop, Executive Director of the Alpine Humane Society and President of Far West Texas Rescue Alliance. I live in Fort Davis with seven rescue dogs. In this perpetual column, I will share useful tips with you Information about life with pets in the Big Bend area.

I mentioned the Far West Texas Rescue Alliance in a previous column and wanted to share more about this group of hardworking and compassionate animal rescue professionals. This collaborative effort brings together dozens of regional organizations and shelters:

Alpine Humane Society – Alpine

Alpine animal shelter – Alps

Big Bend Pets – Alpine

Dear Pets Animal Rescue – Fort Stockton

Grand Guys – Fort Davis

Jethro Homeward Bound Pets – Fort Davis

Lucky Two Times Animal Sanctuary & Advocacy Program – Fort Stockton

Marathon Animal Shelter – Marathon

Animal Shelter Merchandise – Merchandise

Pecos Animal Shelter – Pecos

Presidio Animal Shelter – Presidio

Underground Dog – Terlingua

Tranpicos Dusty Paws – Reeves County

Together, these partners work across a vast geography to rescue pets and promote them for adoption or transfer to other countries with more demand for available pets and fewer adoptable pets. The coalition also sponsors monthly pop-up clinics called The Big Bend Big Fix to spay, neuter, and vaccinate cats and dogs.

Each of the member organizations raises funds for their own operations in their communities: veterinary services for the pets in their care, food, supplies and transportation costs. As a group, the coalition is working to raise funds to subsidize clinic costs for pet owners across the region who are unable to pay for clinic services. Other large costs for these clinics include accommodation and meals for the visiting vet team and volunteers, supplies to run the clinics, and advertising and travel expenses.

Recently, a fundraiser provided the money to purchase equipment to sterilize surgical instruments on site during pop-up clinics. The next purchase the group will jointly make is a large freight truck to transport all the boxes, tables, and clinic supplies. The Coalition will also share this truck to transport pets from Coalition communities to Central Texas, El Paso, and other locations for expanded adoption opportunities.

In this region with such a small donor group, it is a delicate balance for the coalition to raise funds without negatively affecting fundraising from individual member groups in their communities. The Alpine Humane Society is the largest nonprofit in the coalition and serves as a financial sponsor to the larger collaborative effort, providing tax receipts to allow donors to take advantage of tax cuts to support them. Some groups in the coalition are not 501(c)3 nonprofits and cannot provide these receipts. AHS can act as a pass-through agent for donations to these individual members of the coalition or to the coalition as a whole.

Each pop-up clinic hosted by the coalition provides services for 150 to 200 stray pets and cats. With 10 clinics hosted in the past two years, around 1,800 cats and dogs have been spayed, neutered and vaccinated. Unfortunately, the economy has caused these services to become more expensive, like many other goods and services. When we started the clinics in February 2021, the cost per pet was $45. Soon it jumped to $60, then $75. In 2022 the cost increased to $100 and it’s now $150 as we move into 2023.

We’ve found that most pet owners can afford $75 to $100. No one has been turned away from the clinics for being unable to pay. This means that coalition member organizations are required to make up the shortfall in paying for pet care and clinic operating expenses. Corporate and individual donors in the communities where the clinics are located have been very helpful with their financial support. However, the problem of pet overpopulation and the number of unchanged pets is still significant in our region. We know we’re making progress on those numbers with clinics, but we haven’t gotten ahead of the issue yet.

We will host clinics every month in 2023. The Coalition will host services in Pecos December 3-5, Presidio in January, Alpine in February, Terlingua in March, Fort Stockton in April, and Marfa in May. Funding for each clinic is approximately $5,000. Companies or individuals who wish to become sponsors of the clinic can contact Alpine Humane at [email protected] or 432-837-2532.

We believe that within two years, we will see evidence of a meaningful positive impact in reducing unwanted litters of puppies and kittens across the region as a result of the pop-up clinics if the coalition can continue to solicit donations and grants.

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