It all started with a rescue named Roscoe. He found us at a desolate gas station in Roscoe, Texas in 2018. He had been hit by a car a few days before and was just hanging out by the gas pumps waiting for help. We picked him up and little did we know he would change our life. It opened our eyes to how many stray dogs roam the streets of West Texas, how all of the rescues in our area are bursting at the seams and how turning an animal into Animal Control is essentially a death sentence.
That’s when we started researching what others were doing to decrease the suffering in their communities. We found that high volume, low cost spay and neutering programs were the number one factor in reducing strays, reducing the number of animals needing to be rescued, reducing the number of animals entering the shelters, and thereby lowering the euthanasia rate at the local Animal Control.
In late October 2019, we started brainstorming ways we could help bring high volume, low cost spay and neuter to the Midland area and somehow we came across a not-for-profit mobile vet called Pet Vet Relief (Dr. Linwood Starks). He heard our pleas, knew our situation was dire and agreed to come to Midland for a two day clinic on January 11-12, 2020 with the potential of coming back quarterly. All we needed to do was provide a free climate controlled location, 4 vet techs, 20 volunteers, 50 cages, 3 nights of free lodging and get 120 animals booked.
In late November we started calling ourselves Fix Midland. As word spread, we created a logo, a flier, established a Facebook page, printed business cards and car magnets and that had us off and running. Within the first 12 hours of posting the flier on Facebook, our community embraced our idea, helped spread the word, and over 80 animals were booked for the January clinic. Pet Vet Relief was quick to respond that they would like to extend the clinic to 3 days, bring in another veterinarian, and attempt to alter 400 animals for our community. With a much larger clinic now planned, we sprang into action soliciting volunteers and donations.
We then began canvassing neighborhoods and local businesses with fliers, business cards and car magnets. Anything to get the word out so we could serve as many animals as we could. Our internet friends made sure that our flier was shared far and wide on social media. Newswest 9 and Telemundo did short stories on our clinic that helped spread the word even more. Suddenly we began to get desperate pleas for low cost spay and neuter from people outside of the City of Midland but still within the West Texas area. We knew then that we must change our mission from just Midland to the entire West Texas area so we quickly changed our name to Fix West Texas and applied for not-for-profit tax status.
As it turns out, bringing low cost spay and neutering to West Texas means much more than just altering animals to reduce the amount of strays, rescued animals, animals entering the shelter and euthanized animals (as if that isn’t enough). It’s also about identifying a need and working together to meet the need, while building a deeper sense of community. It has brought volunteers and donors together from all walks of life and it has given those with low income a chance to afford the services they know they need for their animals. And that gives me great hope.
We are committed to providing, at a minimum, a monthly 2 day MASH-style high volume, low cost spay and neuter clinic to the West Texas area that will alter a minimum of 200 animals per month (year-to-date as of June 30, 2020 we have altered about 1400 animals). As we add additional relief veterinarians to our line up, our hope is that we can also offer MASH-style clinics to many of the smaller surrounding cities in the West Texas area who have been pleading for our help to reduce the number of stray animals and the number entering the shelters in their communities as well.
We are also committed to providing education to our community of West Texas. We are currently changing hearts and minds in regard to Community Cats by educating West Texas about the benefits of Community Cats and how a Community Cat program will not only reduce suffering but will also help our community as a whole. We heavily support a few grassroots TNR groups by providing traps, referrals, publicizing their fundraisers, and anything else they need. After all, TNR is a large part of the equation when it comes to lowering shelter intake.
We also educate one-on-one at every clinic by providing information and guidance in regards to nutrition and preventative care. Approximately 90% of the animals we serve have never been vaccinated and have never received flea, tick or heartworm preventative. 100% leave our clinic vaccinated against rabies and about 70% leave vaccinated against parvo and distemper. We hope to quickly get this to 100%, as well as flea/tick/heartworm preventative (because tick-borne disease is extremely high in our community). We believe we can do this once we have our own equipment and can set our own prices. We also encourage children to come by the clinic and “adopt an animal.” Although the animals they adopt are stuffed and not real, we speak with the children about their responsibility to vaccinate, spay/neuter and love their animal. Hopefully this plants the seeds to responsible pet ownership early on. We also have plans to do similar educational outreach events, at some of the local fairs and festivals throughout the year.
We don't know what our future holds but we hope to soon find a permanent or semi-permanent location in the West Texas area. All we need is a climate controlled building with electric and water. We can use elbow grease to make it perfect for our needs.
We now have a leased space at 5025 Princeton, Ste 2 in Midland. Our lease is for one year. During this time, we hope to save money for a permanent location and identify a location that is between Midland and Odessa so we can equally serve both communities. This semi-permanent space has allowed us to add two more veterinarians to our line-up so we can be open to serve our community 4-5 days each week. We have added two more Board members, Michael Blanchard and Caitlin Pierce, as well as a Vice President of Operations, Karen Patterson and an Executive Director, Lori VanHoozer. We have also transitioned from using primarily volunteers to using paid staff- both part-time and full-time. We feel this is an important step to self-sustainability and continuity. However, we continue to use volunteers for tasks such as washing tools, laundry, beach care and etc.