Atascosa Animal Allies making a difference

Group encourages spaying and neutering; seeking donations and volunteers

Pleasanton Express photos by Lisa Luna

With hearts of gold for our local, furry friends, the members of Atascosa Animal Allies are encouraging owners to spay and neuter their pets. The non-profit organization formed in October 2017 and has a contract with the City of Pleasanton Animal Shelter to find homes for cats and dogs.

On Saturday, Feb. 3, the group held a volunteer work day at the shelter on Hunt Street, vaccinating and testing dogs. They encouraged the public to adopt a pet and learn about what they do. Among the members assisting that day were Caron and Eldon Tuttle, Sue Samsel, Shannon Harvey and Cindy Vickers.

Volunteers included 4-H member Chloe Jackson, and Isaac Kumaus, a recent graduate who served in 4-H last year, and Tilden FFA member Charlsie Harris.

The organization saw a need to help save animals. They currently have a few donations from the community, but very little. The hefty price of the work they do is coming largely from the members’ pocketbooks.

“We are pretty much funding this ourselves. The biggest problem is that we need to enforce spay and neuter laws,” Caron Tuttle said.

If everyone would spay and neuter their pet, Pleasanton and Atascosa County would not have this problem, she explained. Members even spay and neuter them before they give them to the people that are adopting them. The group works with other rescue groups, who send them to states up north like Michigan, Washington and Minnesota.

“Some of the other rescue groups are helping us by spaying and neutering animals. Every time we get four of them out of here, there are six to replace those four. It is a never ending job, and so we highly recommend everyone spay and neuter their animals.”

Friend Vicki Eckert with Tri-City Animal Sanctuary offers a voucher for a free spay and neuter. Residents can contact Eckert to receive the voucher. Then they need to take the animal to Humane Society Brooks Spay and Neuter Clinic in San Antonio. It is only a 35-minute drive for the free spay and neuter.

“They can also go through us and it would be $65 which is still considerably cheaper than the area vets,” Tuttle said.

Generally, the regular price to neuter a male cat is $165. Tuttle took a cat to Brooks where it was $35 instead, a much less expensive cost. The group is asking for volunteers- more people to help with the great work that they do.

“Of course we need donations, monetary donations for vaccinations and for flea and tick preventatives and for de-wormers. We come in here and we’ll do all these vaccinations and it will keep parvo (highly contagious virus that affects dogs) down, because if they have a parvo outbreak it can kill every single dog in the kennel.”

Along with the vaccinations, members also perform the bordetella of the nose, which keeps them from getting the kennel cough.

“We just need the community to get behind us and support us financially, or just become more educated to know that they need to spay and neuter their animals. It is very sad when they find animals that are starving to death on the streets. A lot of people just surrender them. We just had the two little Chiweenies surrendered today,” Tuttle said. “We just feel that we want to help these animals. We want to help the community be a better place. We’d love it to be like Austin where everybody spays and neuters and they help foster, but a lot of people don’t even know there is a shelter here.”

She pointed out Navigator in the shelter, a white, part lab dog who was headed the next day to a rescue group. Tuttle described him as a very sweet dog who had been at the shelter for a couple of weeks. Despite being posted on their Facebook page and the Pleasanton Animal Control Facebook page, no one had come forward for him.

“So he’s going to be going up north, probably to Washington State. They want animals up there.”

Too often, shared Tuttle, people see a cute kitty or puppy that they want. However, when the animal grows up, the family does not want to invest in the time training the dog or loving the dog.

“So they just surrender it or let it run off. We deal with that all the time.”

At the volunteer workday, members vaccinated and recorded information on the dogs that came in. They dewormed the dogs and did flea and tick medicate preventative on them. Tuttle posts the information on their Facebook page and then tags different rescue groups. She shares the dog’s description, temperament, etc.

“They all want to know if it’s been heart-worm tested. Once that rescue groups says they want to know, then we will take that dog to the Brooks Spay and Neuter Clinic and they do it much cheaper. It’s $11 to do a heartworm test there, and down here it’s close to $40. So then if the dog is heartworm negative, they will say,’ I want that dog.’ Sometimes we’ll take the dog to San Antonio to meet another rescue group and they will take it from there. They will spay and neuter it. They’ll do all that they need to do to get it to another state.”

Atascosa Animal Allies also have to go get the health certificates, which adds another $25. It shows that the doctor is signing off and verifying that the pet has been looked at and had what is necessary (vaccinations, DAPP, heartworm negative, etc.). The certificates are required in states like Minnesota, Washington.

“If we spay and neuter the dog, if we do all the vaccinations and if we do the health certificates, if we do all of those things- the cost of each dog to us is $143.50, and that is the cheapest we have found. We are doing the vaccinations ourselves. We are deworming them ourselves and we are doing flea and tick preventative ourselves and we are paying $65 to have them spay and neutered which is the cheapest we can find around, it is still $143 per dog.”

The organization is thankful to the city.

“The City of Pleasanton has been wonderful. They have worked with us. They don’t euthanize, they let us get the dogs out. They will hold the dogs until we can get them out. They will let us come take a dog, take it to Brooks, get heartworm tested and bring it back, because we don’t have enough people to keep and foster the dog.”

They are especially in need of foster families. They only have four right now and could use 20.

Other members of the group are Carol Heinz, Donna Stavinoha and Sara Anne Polit. Donations are tax-deductible and can be sent to: Atascosa Animal Allies, at PO Box 249, Pleasanton, Texas 78064. There is also a donation button on their Facebook page. Also, if you go to their Facebook page and click on “About Us” you can find their website and it has all of the animals listed. Caron updates it daily.

If you see an animal you are interested in on the website, please email:

Atascosa Animal Allies wishes to thank those that attended the volunteer work day: Mayor Clinton J. Powell, Pleasanton City council members Robert Earl Wood and Diana Prasifka and her husband Rusty, as well as Jeanne-Burton Israel. They also send a special thanks to Pleasanton Animal Control Officer Leandro Garcia and Captain Johnny Gonzales for caring for the animals in the shelter. Thanks to Hailey Stimpson with Fairytales, Glitter and Grace Photography for taking wonderful photos of the dogs.

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