P.E.T.S. Low-Cost Spay and Neuter Clinic was born of the inspiration, energy, and dedication of our founder and executive director Leslie Harrelson. After working with canine rescue for five years, Leslie realized that “there had to be a way to shut off the faucet instead of just standing at the bottom with buckets.” Industry research proves there is no way to ever build enough cages to accommodate animal overpopulation—spay and neuter is the only solution. Leslie decided to put her resources and energy towards spay and neuter programs to combat pet overpopulation.
In 2006, Leslie went on local TV and announced that she would be hosting a free spay and neuter clinic through the Wichita County Humane Society, inviting pet owners in the community to call her if they were interested. Interest was so overwhelming that she had to recruit family members and friends just to return calls. She filled a spiral notebook with people’s names and stories, and as she raised the money she called the ones she felt needed help the most. Ultimately, she fixed 91 animals that year.
In 2007, Leslie decided to host another spay and neuter clinic, now for a very small fee. This time she partnered with TCAP from Denton, TX, and set up a clinic in the fellowship Hall of her grandmother’s church. At this time, many of the people who would become her longest-serving volunteers and future board members saw her on TV and contacted her to help out with the “Lifesaver Clinic.” In two clinics, this growing local movement fixed 150 animals and recognized that the Wichita Falls community had a pressing need for a permanent low-cost spay and neuter clinic to combat pet overpopulation. All of the people that helped at Lifesavers promised to help if Leslie started a permanent clinic, so she got to work. They are all still with her and we are still here.
In June 2007 Leslie held her first “Fur-Raiser,” a steak dinner and silent auction benefit. With those funds, she opened P.E.T.S. one month later in July 2007. We did 15 surgeries and 12 walk-ins. Leslie would go home after every clinic and revamp something, sometimes everything. Subsequent Fur-Raisers purchased more surgical equipment, office equipment, and clinic improvements. Grant funding provided us with a van, computers, software, and other essentials. Nine years later, 40+ surgeries and 120+ walk-ins are standard and we call it an easy day. We have come a long way and have much to be proud of.
In December of 2007, P.E.T.S. was granted 501c3 status and was able to apply for grant funding. Our financial assistance comes primarily from grants, allowing us to offset the cost of surgery. P.E.T.S. also is able to compensate for our reduced surgery costs by providing nonsurgical services such as vaccines to our community.
P.E.T.S. has made a tremendous difference in pet overpopulation in the Wichita Falls area during its short existence, preventing more the 500,000 unwanted litters just in the first generation. “I can’t count the number of times people have said, ‘thank you so much for being here,’” Leslie says of community response. “I’m blessed beyond measure to do what I do and have the people I do behind me. P.E.T.S. would be nothing if it were just me. The volunteers and staff are priceless.”
In 2008, a survey showed that 87% of our clients did not have a full-service vet. This is how we make a difference.