It’s no secret we live in a pet-loving culture. Everywhere you turn, that bond between humans and animals is unmistakable, whether it’s the little girl parading her new puppy through the neighborhood, a businessman taking time from his crowded schedule to play fetch in the park with his golden retriever, or the elderly lady at the bus stop with two kittens curled up patiently inside her oversized purse.
Even when we take that long-awaited family portrait, the pets are always included – because they’re family, too.
We love our pets; they are an extension of us. But all too often, good and well-intentioned pet owners simply cannot afford the most basic veterinary care such as spay and neuter services, vaccinations, and even dental care.
It’s a scenario Stacey Schumacher has seen play out once too many times over the years, which has led to euthanasia and overpopulation at animal shelters. So she created a non-profit called the Texas Coalition for Animal Protection (TCAP), a low-cost alternative that partners with full-service veterinary clinics and animal shelters while at the same time filling a void for animals who deserve quality care at a price their owners can afford.
“We started at one night a week in one location in 2002 and have grown so much since then,” said Stacey, who as TCAP’s founder and Executive Director has proudly watched her nonprofit grow to include seven locations. “What we do in terms of services is very limited, but we do a lot of it, and the vets we employ are subject matter experts.
“What overwhelms most pet owners is the cost factor. They love their animals, but the cost is sometimes unattainable.”
TCAP, which is heading into its 17th year, is upfront that they aren’t trying to replace full-service clinics. They specialize only in spay and neuter services, vaccinations, heartworm testing and prevention, microchipping services, and dental work such as routine cleanings, tooth extraction, and antibiotics. The level of care is equal to what you can find at vet centers but at a fraction of the price. For example, a full set of vaccines could cost a pet owner as little as $25. Spay and neuter services can range between $35-$65, which is roughly 70-80 percent cheaper than a vet clinic.
They offer wellness kits where customers can have all shots, microchipping, and spay and neuter services for as little as $135. For a kitten, the same wellness kit can run as low as $85. Both kits essentially cover everything a puppy or kitten would need in its first year of life. 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.
Beyond that, if TCAP veterinarians notice anything that concerns them about a pet – old or young – from a health standpoint, they will always refer a customer to a local veterinarian’s office for a more detailed evaluation.
“It’s not our goal to take business from veterinary clinics,” Stacey said. “We see it as a partnership because we’re coming alongside them and offering the basic stuff everyone needs. And if need be, we refer out for specialized care.”
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 also to 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.
Stacey led the Hopkins County Animal Protection League in Sulphur Springs to open a low cost spay and neuter clinic in the mid 1990s. Based on the success of the program in East Texas, Stacey then founded TCAP. Their locations are in Denton, Allen, Burleson, Fort Worth, Hurst, Weatherford, and Garland.
Stacey said that in 2018 alone, TCAP spayed and neutered roughly 55,000 animals, and they go to great lengths to make sure everyone who walks through their doors – on two legs or four – has a great experience.
“Our tagline this year is lowest cost, best care. We really have focused on customer service and honing in on letting people know that we have compassionate, caring vets,” Stacey said.