Keeping the Family Together

Keeping the Family Together

By Susan Neuhalfen

Every year, approximately 2.4 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs are put down in U.S. shelters.  That equates to one animal every 13 seconds that is euthanized.  The majority of these animals are the unwanted offspring of owned pets. Had the pets been spayed or neutered, this all would have been avoidable.

“The answer to stopping euthanasia and pet overpopulation starts with prevention,” said Stacey Schumacher, the founder and Executive Director at the Texas Coalition for Animal Protection (TCAP). “So many of these owners are good people who simply cannot afford to spay and neuter multiple animals.”

Stacey has always had a soft spot for animals. After working at a pet rescue in high school, she realized her dream was to help not just animals but to also help the people who love them. It all started in her hometown of Sulphur Springs where there was no spay and neuter program.  Stacey took it upon herself to rent a van every month and transport animals from her mother’s house to a low cost clinic in the Dallas area. After work, she would gather them back into the van and transport them home. After doing this for some time, Stacey founded her own clinic in Sulphur Springs with the help of a small group of dedicated volunteers.

Based on the success of the program in East Texas, Stacey then founded TCAP, a non-profit organization designed to help the pet overpopulation problem throughout North Texas. By providing affordable pet services for those in need, TCAP works to cure the epidemic of pet overpopulation.

TCAP provides low cost spay and neuter, heartworm testing and prevention, dental cleaning and microchipping services to those who could not otherwise afford it for their pets. TCAP is not designed to take the place of a full service veterinarian. If TCAP’s veterinary team sees a problem with a pet, they will refer the pet to a full service, local veterinarian for further treatment.

“We are filling a void for people who can’t afford basic care for their pets,” said Stacey. “We aren’t a full service veterinary clinic. We are just here to keep animals from being euthanized.”

Since its first clinic in Denton opened in November of 2002, TCAP has sterilized more than 370,000 animals. TCAP has grown to include six clinics in North Texas including locations in Denton, Burleson, Hurst, Weatherford, Allen and Fort Worth. While they provide low cost services, TCAP goes to great lengths to make sure that everyone who walks through their doors, on two legs or four legs, has a great experience.

“It is so important to us that our clients receive the best customer service possible,” said Stacey. “We continually work with our team to ensure we continue to better the service we provide.”

TCAP also works with several animal shelters in the area to provide spay and neuter services onsite to help service pets owned by customers who are unable to transport their pets to a TCAP location. The veterinarians who contract their services at TCAP are experts at spay and neuter, quickly and efficiently performing multiple surgeries daily.

This year, TCAP is celebrating 15 years of operating in Denton and there is a line of people at the door with their pets every day, just as there has been since the day they first opened the clinic.

“Animals just seem to keep showing up at our house and my husband and I don’t have the heart to turn them away,” said Rachel, a Denton resident who stood with Oliver, one of her five “kids” as she calls them. “I’m very grateful to the people
at TCAP or we’d have to take them to the shelter.”

One noticeable thing about this line was the lack of stress. Usually waiting in line for anything, much less with dogs on leashes and kids in tow, can be nerve-racking. However, the owners remained calm and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

“We’ve been here before and everyone is so nice,” said Debbie, another customer with multiple pets. “If it weren’t for TCAP I wouldn’t be able to afford these two (dogs) and they’re my family.”

Stacey Schumacher is proof positive that one person really can make a difference. As she looks back on 15 years of community service through TCAP, she can be proud not only the number of lives TCAP’s team has saved but also in the number of lives they’ve touched.

“I’ve learned that if you have really great service, whatever your business is, it will grow,” said Stacey. “The most important thing is to build on what we’ve learned these first fifteen years and make the next fifteen even better.”


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