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The first P.E.T.S. Low-Cost Spay and Neuter Clinic opened in 2006 in Wichita Falls. Faced with animal overpopulation, founder Leslie Harrelson thought “there had to be a way to shut off the faucet instead of just standing at the bottom with buckets.” A permanent spay-and-neuter clinic resulted from those efforts. 

Wichita Falls is 225 miles away, but Amarillo has a similar problem. In 2019, local resident Dacia Anderson—a self-described “animal person” and former teacher with experience working for veterinarians—began investigating whether a similar clinic could work in the Panhandle. “We didn’t have anything locally,” she says. Anderson reached out to the P.E.T.S. clinic in Wichita Falls. 

Harrelson spoke to her board and the organization decided Amarillo could act as a self-funded satellite of the Wichita Falls organization. “We really had no idea what we were doing,” Anderson admits. Harrelson and her team helped her start fundraising and launch the organization. “We have her backing and knowledge behind us,” Anderson says. “It came together quickly and we’ve been trucking since.” 

The Amarillo P.E.T.S. clinic opened in August 2019 with Anderson as executive director and Dr. Natalie Harrison as the local, on-staff veterinarian.

P.E.T.S. in Amarillo is open every Monday through Thursday, along with one Saturday every month, and has performed 22,000 surgeries since opening. All spay and neuter procedures are by appointment only. The cost for dogs is $65 for females and $60 for males, and $45 for female cats or $35 for male cats. For families in need, P.E.T.S. subsidizes the surgeries to only $10. 

The nonprofit also offers a daily shot clinic providing animal vaccinations.

Donations allow P.E.T.S. to keep the surgeries affordable. “Everything we raise here stays here,” Anderson says. The organization also hosts a Community Cat Fund for residents working to spay or neuter the abundant stray cats in their neighborhoods. “They’re not their cats, but they love them and feed them and take care of them,” she says. 

Animal welfare has been a high-profile issue in Amarillo over the past decade, and Anderson believes the city still lags behind other regions in addressing overpopulation of strays. “We’re just bailing out water. To really solve that problem, you’ve got to get the spay-and-neuter [solution] under control.” She points out that the work of P.E.T.S. won’t provide an overnight solution, but the Wichita Falls clinic has seen a gradual lowering in shelter numbers. Long-term, P.E.T.S. hopes to see the same decline in Amarillo.

To learn more about the organization, visit petsclinic.org. 

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