By: Elsa Kohlbus
In October of 2019, Animal Balance, supported by a grant from Best Friends Animal Society, made possible by Maddie’s Fund, brought a team to South Texas to hold its second MASH style, high volume spay/neuter clinic to assist shelters in the Rio Grande Valley. This campaign is part of the AB USA program. Together with staff and volunteers at Palm Valley Animal Center, Laurie P. Andrews PAWS shelter, and Harlingen Humane Society, the team safely sterilized 350 cats and dogs between October 17-20.
The animals were all being held in care at the three shelters.
This project was the second MASH clinic in what will be a continued collaboration between AB, PVAS, and BFAS to further reduce the lifesaving gap at these shelters and bring the RGV to “No-Kill” by 2025, in conjunction with the national effort being made by BFAS.
With a team of 10 volunteer veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and recovery volunteers
from across the country, Animal Balance staged clinics in the warehouse building at PVAC, the surgery clinic at PAWS, and utilized an existing clinic at HHS. The portability of our MASH setup makes it easy to move clinic locations to best accommodate the dynamic nature of day-to-day shelter operations and most efficiently provide services to a high number of animals in the safest manner possible.
Following a successful pilot campaign held in August of this year, during which 582
animals were sterilized at the three shelters, the teams were able to hit the ground running. 350 cats and dogs, including 92 community cats, were safely and efficiently sterilized by an small (yet mighty) team of 10 volunteers, many of whom were making a second trip to the
valley to participate in this program. The skill and efficiency of the team allowed us to
surpass our initial goal of 300 surgeries. Veterinarians, who are required to posses a
Texas veterinary license, travelled from Austin and Irving, Texas, as well as Kanab, Utah. The
support team included volunteers who traveled from both coasts as well as Texas. The broad
volunteer reach of this project will continue to help provide exposure to this program,
allowing it to continually grow to help more animals in need.
In addition to focusing on the short-term success of the project (meeting number
goals), Animal Balance focuses on the longer-term goals of building relationships
and igniting social change in the areas in which we work. As this project continues to
move forward, we are continuing to adapt to better serve the community and our local
partners. As a result, we will now be staging a monthly campaign on the ground in
Edinburg, with the goal of sterilizing 150 animals in the shelter system each month.
Providing spay/neuter support to these shelters is having an immediate life-saving impact. Animals are more easily adopted into homes if they are spayed/neutered and move out of the shelter system quicker. This will also allow the shelter team to catch up on previously adopted animals that are still waiting for sterilization surgery.
Animal Balance considered this campaign a great success and looks forward to continuing our partnership with BFAS and their shelter partners in an effort to save lives in Texas through spay/neuter and social change. We are committed to providing support that will reduce euthanasia at these shelters and help meet the goals set forth by BFAS. Our next campaign in the Valley is scheduled for Nov. 7-9, 2019.