We're positively ecstatic about Saturday's grand opening of Emancipet, a low-cost spay/neuter clinic that also offers preventive veterinary services like vaccinations, microchipping, and heartworm meds, and which should help put a dent in Houston's animal overpopulation problem.
Houston City Council in March approved $260,000 in funding to bring the Austin-based Emancipet here, and the clinic is celebrating Saturday with a free, family-friendly event featuring "refreshments, entertainment, and fun activities for kids," according to a press release. Mayor Annise Parker, City Council Members Robert Gallegos and Oliver Pennington, and Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Gonzalez will say a few words, and ASPCA President and CEO Matthew Bershadker will announce a major gift for the clinic.
Emancipet's CEO Amy Mills will also be there, and here's what she told us in an email:
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Now, I want to briefly share why we are in Houston. The short answer is that we are there because of the persistence and leadership of the Houston Mayor Annise Parker, and several Houston City Council Members – Gallegos, Gonzalez, and Pennington. Council Member Gallegos started pursuing us to come to Houston from almost the moment he took office, and he headed up a process to get his colleagues on board to fund our startup costs. Earlier this year, those three council members voted to allocate a total of $260,000 from their own discretionary funds to help us start a clinic in the East End neighborhood in Houston.
The East End is basically ground zero for perhaps the worst stray pet problem in the country. The City estimates that there are 1.2 million stray dogs and cats in Houston. What I have personally seen in Houston should be absolutely unacceptable in any modern US city. The problem, especially with stray dogs, who live in packs and are increasingly aggressive towards people, is out of hand. These animals are suffering, and people are legitimately scared.
A chronic lack of spay/neuter resources in low-income areas caused this problem, and it’s not going to be solved overnight. But we have committed to helping to transform Houston’s underserved neighborhoods into humane communities, in partnership with the City of Houston and an army of animal welfare organizations committed to change. Our plan is to open three Emancipet clinics in targeted Houston neighborhoods over the next few years, and to work with City and County officials to develop a comprehensive plan to address these challenges.
Our new Houston clinic has only been open two weeks. But people are showing up with their pets, and already, that shift around how to care for pets has started.
Emancipet plans to spay/neuter "7,000-8,000 animals per year, and provide approximately 10,000 preventive care visits," according to a press release. Not bad, yo. Emancipet currently operates out of a semi-permanent trailer, but will move into a brick-and-mortar clinic in the same neighborhood and move to the trailer to another hot spot. (The ASPCA donated funds to purchase and customize the trailer).
"By 2017, depending on the success of fundraising efforts, Emancipet plans to have three permanent locations in underserved areas of Houston, which currently has an estimated 800,000 to 1.2 million stray animals," according to the press release.
The grand opening event will take place 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at 4410 Navigation Blvd., at the nonprofit Neighborhood Centers, Inc./Ripley House. Don't be square — be there.