The Future is Bright, Thanks to Maddie!

Supporters of San Antonio Pets Alive! may be from all walks of life, but we know all of them care about living in and furthering the community’s path to a more compassionate city. For these folks – folks like you! — it’s important to step back and realize where we are now, and where we need to go moving forward. The future for all of us and the animals who need us CAN be very bright indeed, but we need YOUR continued support to get there. Maureen O'Nell

As part of our series introducing our readers to SAPA!’s leadership, we wanted to tell you all a bit about Maureen E. O’Nell. Maureen is our Executive Director and has been with SAPA! for over a year now. Our nonprofit leadership has been made possible by a generous grant from Maddie’s Fund®. Thanks to Maddie, SAPA! was given the opportunity to find just the right person to help SAPA! reach the next level. Maureen stepped into the role with experience and proven animal-welfare leadership, and has managed to take the organization from struggling to exist, to surviving and thriving! How did she do it? Let’s find out!

Maureen’s journey to nonprofit work started early. She says, “I quip that I was born into nonprofit work. That is not totally accurate. I was born into an academic family who valued education. When I graduated from undergraduate studies, one of my father’s books was published. He wrote an inscription in a copy he gave to me. I had already started working in the field of social service. To paraphrase, he said the book was inscribed by someone who studied the human condition to his daughter who would help change the human condition.”

Maureen’s passion to “change the world” drove her to continue nonprofit work as her career progressed. She says, “Animal welfare has been my field of impact for almost a decade. Nonprofits have a great deal in common…These worthy organizations struggle to find enough resources to make the difference they set out to make; animal welfare being more reliant than most nonprofits on donor support. There are no federal or state contracts in animal welfare. Adoption fees will never cover operating costs. SAPA! must raise 87% of our 2.4 million operating budget annually just to stay in operation.” Keeping the financial realities in mind, Maureen works to keep SAPA! ahead of the game.

This knowledge was part of her evolution to her current leadership style. She explains, “It doesn’t take too much time spent with me to figure out I am a visionary leader. Visionary leaders have an undying optimism about the future and are willing to take bold steps to get ‘there.’ One of the mistakes young nonprofits can make is putting all their resources into taking care of today only. Functionally, taking care of today’s needs alone keeps the nonprofit in a constant crisis cycle and can create a pervasive sense of worry and instability. The work gets done, but there is no assurance there will be the needed resources to take care of tomorrow. It isn’t an intentional decision to make this misstep — it comes from great passion for the mission — but it has consequences.”

“My leadership style helps to shift the underlying culture to one of perseverance. It challenges us all to make the very best decisions we can for the wellbeing of the individual animal today, while recognizing our decisions today impact our ability to function in the future. This is a significant shift. Growth isn’t always the most comfortable process, and it is my responsibility to keep clear the why of the changes we undergo.”

After a full year of changing the world for animals in San Antonio, we asked Maureen what she was most proud of. She had a ready answer: “This team! It takes a whole lot of grit and determination to keep moving forward. It takes staff; it takes volunteers; it takes fosters; it takes true partnerships.”
She continues, “We have a lean staff. Everybody has had to grow and stretch to make the whole operation work by taking on responsibilities that do not fit neatly into a job description, but cannot go without tending.”

What does the future look like for SAPA! (the little organization that could), and for you, SAPA!’s supporters? Maureen explains that we know the basics of what we need to accomplish already, and it’s daunting. She says, “To start with, we know that 87% of our budget — $2,100,000 to be exact –must be raised every single year through YOUR support. We have limited space, and no actual shelter to save the lives of 6,000. Many of the animals we help are quite vulnerable and need time to heal, putting pressure on our finite kennel capacity. We must take great care to vet partnerships and act daily to build bridges of support. Restoring health is not a perfect line. We must be creative and constantly challenge ourselves to evaluate our practices so we can improve them. Our staff manages to do all of this while we face realities of not enough resources to meet our goals. Yet despite the intensity and precarious nature of our efforts, this team, step by step, day by day keeps moving forward. That is a lot to be proud of. I am in awe.”

But through these challenges, Maureen sees opportunity. Her vision for the future is unchanging. “Our greatest goal and biggest challenge is to create the financial backing the organization needs to be able to fulfill our mission of saving lives. Our future is fully reliant upon garnering the support from individuals, businesses and foundations to help us succeed. Performance improvement is part of our day-to-day jobs. This is a constant. Our goal is to create the financial backing to build for tomorrow…a tomorrow where we all embrace the understanding and practice that ‘killing is not a solution. It is our community’s obligation to find lifesaving solutions.’”

With Maureen’s leadership, SAPA! will continue to spearhead these solutions, Thanks to Maddie and the support given by Maddie’s Fund.

Leading San Antonio to No-Kill

Leading San Antonio to No-Kill

Congratulations, San Antonio! Your support has helped San Antonio Pets Alive! save more than 35,000 animals in the last 5 years, and your interest has brought the treatment of San Antonio’s animals to the forefront of the community’s consciousness.

So, how did San Antonio go from saving 30% of the city’s animals in 2011 to 80-90% now? We did it with hard work, SAPA!’s commitment, and of course, your support.

In 2011, only about 30% of animals entering the San Antonio city shelter were finding homes. You would probably agree that this is not okay. From there, a civic-minded group of people sprung up to combat this dismal percentage. After a few years of increased involvement from caring community members such as yourself, the percentage of animals finding homes—also called the “live release rate”—is closer to 80 to 90%. SAPA! was a significant part of that change for the better.

Currently, SAPA! saves more than 6,000 animals each year and is the city’s largest rescue partner. Your help has made this possible, whether you volunteered, fostered, donated, or were a public supporter of SAPA! and our shared goals to improve how dogs and cats are treated.

Like you, SAPA! and its team of dedicated professionals are passionately committed to ending pet homelessness. In the coming posts, we’d like to tell you a little bit about our organizational leaders. It takes vision, optimism, and enthusiasm to guide others to take up the cause and join in the fight every day. In 2016-2017, our leadership team was made possible by a generous grant from Maddie’s Fund®. Thanks to Maddie, we are continuing to make a difference.



SAPA!’s leadership team includes the Executive Director, Director of Development, and Director of Operations. Clare Callison is SAPA!’s Director of Operations, and as you might imagine, she has a very big job! Clare’s job includes overseeing all of SAPA!’s animal programs. It’s essential to have a dedicated leader to keep SAPA!’s 4 locations, dozens of employees, and thousands of animals moving.

Clare sees that her role includes an imperative “to provide support and encouragement to our hardworking team members including staff, fosters, and volunteers, who are doing this vital life-saving work each day. I am so honored to have this position, to work with such a strong team, and to save so many loving animals each day.”

Clare is up for the challenges of the position, because the work is important to her personally. Clare’s vision for the future also helps drive her to work her hardest day after day.

Clare reflects: “The future for SAPA! is bright, thanks to our wonderful community and the team at SAPA! Which is a good thing, because the dogs, cats, and people in the city need us.”

Clare believes that in the coming months and years, you and SAPA! will help San Antonio be the kind of city that cares for its animal citizens with the help of its human residents. She says, “Although we have come a long way in 5 ½ years, we still have a long road ahead. We are working hard to increase and strengthen our foster and volunteer communities, and we cannot move forward without their help. Many people don’t know that dogs and cats are still euthanized for lack of space in San Antonio. But SAPA! continues to work to save those on this list each day.”

“We need community members to continue help us spread the word about what we do and to step up to volunteer and foster. If everyone commits to helping in whatever way they are able, we will grow stronger.”


Meet Tulip

Meet Tulip

It is our pleasure to introduce you to sweet Tulip!  We knew Tulip was special when we looked at her adorable little face, but upon first glance we had no idea how special Tulip was.  She has had more challenges than a newborn baby should have to endure, but our SAPA! village has stepped up yet again to help us save her life.

After an assessment by our foster manager,  we discovered that tiny Tulip suffers from a condition called Swimmers Syndrome. Swimmers Syndrome is a musculoskeletal disorder that generally appears in puppies at about 2 - 3 weeks old, or around the time that they start to walk. It is characterized by a flattened body and splayed legs.  Sadly, without intervention, it can be fatal to the puppies that are affected by it. Without treatment, their chest can become flattened under the weight of their body and they can lose the ability to eat.

SAPA! sprang into action, determined to do everything we could to help Tulip survive.  First, we called on our life-saving network of skilled medical fosters to try to get Tulip the care she needed as fast as possible and get her on the road to recovery. In a matter of hours Tulip had been bottle fed and was beginning physical therapy with a harness and leg bands to strengthen her legs and save her fragile life. The puppy has been placed with a dedicated medical foster who is devoted to ensuring her survival.

At San Antonio Pets Alive!, we too often see animals like Tulip who, without our intervention, would perish.  We can only rescue puppies and kittens with these acute medical needs with your help. It takes a village to care for these babies, and SAPA! Village we need you!

Consider becoming a guardian today, and help to ensure puppies and kittens like Tulip get the care they need, because together - We Save Lives!


PetCo + SAPA! = Happy Tails

Once upon a time, a kitty named Phoebe found her true love thanks to her two unconventional fairy godmothers–PetCo and San Antonio Pets Alive! IMG_7798 - Copy

Here at San Antonio Pets Alive!, our mission is to save as many dogs and cats as possible and to make San Antonio the largest no-kill community in the nation. Our friends at PetCo are special partners in this undertaking. While you undoubtedly know PetCo as a leader in providing premiere and budget-friendly products and services for beloved furry family members, you might not realize that PetCo also helps homeless animals find their very own purr-fect home.

Visitors to the PetCo at 6001 NW Loop 410 in San Antonio have probably seen SAPA! there inside the store, playing matchmaker for kitties and people. Over 1,000 animals have been adopted at PetCo since SAPA! joined forces. It was there that Phoebe met the Anderson family and her fairy tale dream came true.

Phoebe started out as a damsel in distress.  Little Phoebe came to SAPA as a frail and tiny 2 lb kitten. She had a severe upper respiratory infection and was also battling ringworm. For many city shelters, kitties like Phoebe are considered too difficult to treat and find homes for.  But at SAPA!, we routinely take in tiny kittens, senior animals, puppies with contagious diseases, and a lot of other animals who would make wonderful companions if only given the chance.  Our clinic nursed Phoebe back to health, and she recovered wonderfully from both the ringworm and her kitty cold.

IMG_7828After a couple of months of care, Phoebe was ready to go to our Petco adoption center.  One fateful day, the Anderson family came to have a look at the cats up for adoption in PetCo.  Our adoption counselors had a hunch that Phoebe just might be ideal for this family.  Pilar Anderson, the family matriarch, told the counselors that her family was considering a furry friend for their youngest daughter’s birthday.  Phoebe had been through a lot in her young life, but was ready for a loving home.  With a quick wave of the wand, the two fell in love and Phoebe was adopted a short time later.

Pilar says, “Adopting a kitten from San Antonio Pets Alive has been an extremely rewarding experience for my entire family.  Phoebe has quickly adjusted to our family of five.  She has full roam of our two story home and our hearts.  She brings great joy to my three children, and we couldn’t be happier with the adoption process at San Antonio Pets Alive!”

The Anderson family and Phoebe are lucky to have found each other.  While it didn’t take magic, it did take the determination and support of PetCo and SAPA!  who both urge you to consider adopting when you’re looking to add another family member.  Pilar agrees: “It is important for people to adopt from shelters because doing so truly saves lives. We absolutely adore Phoebe, she is the sweetest kitty!”

The End!


SAPA! Gets Sappy With KLEENEX!

Have you seen the new Kleenex viral ad campaign yet? Does anyone look familiar??

San Antonio Pets Alive! is THRILLED to announce our participation in Kleenex’s new “Messages of Care” social media campaign, and our happy pal Chance was more than ready to be in the spotlight! Chance and his pet parents Stacey and Michael are the focal point of Kleenex’s latest ad, and within the first 24 hours of the videos’ release on Facebook Chance already had MILLIONS of new fans from around the world.

You can check out the full video below. Get ready for the happy tears to start rollin’! (It’s a Kleenex ad for a reason, you guys.)



Kitten Season is in Full Swing!

As everyone probably knows, late Spring thru early Autumn is considered “kitten season”.  While nothing is cuter than a baby, the lack of care and the sheer number of stray and unwanted kittens can quickly overwhelm neighborhoods and shelters.  Adult female cats can start reproducing as young as five to six months of age, and will go into heat cycles every 14-21 days until they are pregnant.  Not only do stray cats experience danger from everyday occurrences such as traffic and other animals, but lack of food and shelter can also cause problems for a new mother and her litter.

Thankfully, San Antonio is starting to recognize the ever growing issue of unwanted stray and feral cats, and is offering many more resources to the public concerning these problems. When litters are discovered, and once kittens are weaned or surrendered to ACS so SAPA! can come in and place them in our Neonatal Kitten Nursery, their outlook is considerably brighter. Unfortunately, the mothers are often overlooked, and while their kittens hopefully go off to find happy homes, they remain pregnant season after season. That’s where we step in.

Our mission is to rescue the mothers and kittens together, as the survival rate is much higher when the kittens can be nursed naturally. Once that first step is taken, we work to promote spaying and neutering-which helps by preventing overpopulation while still saving moms and their litters from euthanasia. Please consider volunteering some of your time to SNAPA! to help cats and kittens during this busy season-volunteers for the Neonatal program, foster homes, bottle feeders and donations are always needed and appreciated!


-Roxanne Reeves

The Big Give S.A. 2015 Is Just Around The Corner!

Tuesday, May 5 at 12:00AM marks the official start of The Big Give S.A. 2015! What is The Big Give, you ask?

The Big Give S.A. is a 24-hour online giving day that will take place from midnight to midnight on May 5, 2015. The purpose of this community-wide giving challenge is to increase public awareness of the impact local nonprofits make in addressing our community’s social challenges, bring nonprofits and donors together to expand online giving, connect people to the causes that move them the most, and, of course, make giving fun!


  1. INVEST strategically in San Antonio’s nonprofits
  2. DRIVE the community forward through collective impact
  3. LEVERAGE giving with matching funds and prize incentives

This sounds great and all, but what does San Antonio Pets Alive! have to do with it?

2014 was the introductory year for The Big Give S.A. In one day, the city raised over $2 million for local nonprofits, more than doubling their goal of $1 million. San Antonio Pets Alive! participated as one of The Big Give’s registered nonprofits and had the most unique donors for a large organization, raising over $28,000 for San Antonio’s pets!

Our goal this year is to crush last year’s total, and we need your help to do it! On May 5, visit The Big Give S.A. to help us raise awareness and funds for San Antonio Pets Alive!.

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for live updates on our progress during The Big Give, and get in on the action to help us spread awareness!

  • Twitter: Tweet us @sapetsalive for a chance to receive a puppy gram at your office! To show our appreciation for our donors, we will be sending “Puppy Grams” to a few of our lucky supporters throughout the day. Let us know where to go and who to ask for, and an adorable surprise might just be coming for a visit!
  • Facebook: We’ll be posting event details, personalized thank you’s to our donors, and a video every hour telling one puppy’s story as he is given a second chance at life.
  • Instagram: Post pictures of you and your rescues and tag us @sapetsalive! We’ll be “regramming” some of our favorites and posting some of our stories as well.
  • SAPA! Website: Watch our live puppy cam while you work! We’re streaming live, all day from our puppy room at our Petco Adoption Center. Is there anything better than spending your day with a precious little pup?? We dare you to find out for yourself!

Join us at the following locations to celebrate The Big Give throughout the day on May 5! We’ll be enjoying some of the best pet-friendly dining in the city as we raise excitement about getting involved with such a great cause!

  • Bakery Lorraine: 7am-10am, raffle ticket sales and donation station
  • TopGolf: 10am-2pm, special games and competitions can be played/entered for a donation to SAPA!
  • Chipotle at The Quarry: 2pm-6pm, a portion of every sale will benefit SAPA!
  • Canyon Cafe: 6pm-9pm, raffle ticket sales and drawing
  • The Lost Bar & Grill: 8pm-11pm, Karaoke for a Cause

Click here to participate in THE BIG GIVE S.A.!

Claudia the Cali Girl

Claudia has been with SAPA! for 221 long days, but when the wonderful Petco Foundation decided to help us find homes for some of our long-term stays (pets that have been at our shelter for a particularly long time), it only took three days for her to find a forever home!

Claudia made the move to her sunny new home in beautiful San Diego, California. Her adopter, Meagan, was so excited to bring Claudia home, and Petco made an amazing contribution by sponsoring her entire adoption, flight and all! Congratulations to both Claudia and Meagan, we couldn’t be happier for you both!

So You Found Newborn Kittens. Now What?

It’s not uncommon to find a litter of kittens, especially during the warmer months of the year. It’s hard to fight the urge to pick the cute, helpless babies up and take them home with you, but there are several reasons to stop and think before you take action.

  • Look for their mother. Before you touch the kittens, make absolutely sure their mom isn’t coming back for them. 90% of the time, the kittens only seem like they’ve been abandoned, and in actuality their mother is just out searching for food. Stand far away from the kittens while observing the area, keeping in mind that their mother won’t return for quite some time if they sense your presence.
  • Check for any immediate danger. Are the kittens in an unsafe area? Is inclement weather likely in the near future that could disrupt their health? If not, the best thing you can do is leave them alone as their mother is the best chance they have at survival. You can come back and check on them later to make sure they are being taken care of.
  • If the mother returns…you can rescue them all together, or help keep the mom well-fed and sheltered until the kittens are old enough to be weaned (around 6 weeks). Make sure their food and shelter are in separate places; they won’t want to attract other cats to the area where they sleep.
  • If the mother doesn’t return…the kittens should be relocated and bottle-fed until they are old enough to be weaned. If you are able to provide them with the attention and care they need, we have lots of resources to help guide you through the weaning process. If you don’t feel you are able to adequately care for them, you can contact our Neonatal Kitten Nursery or surrender them to the city shelter, where we will step in to keep them healthy until they are ready to be adopted.

Learn more about our Neonatal Kitten Nursery here!

Holly’s Long-Awaited Home!


Some of the pets we rescue get adopted before they can even settle into their cozy kennels, while others take a while longer to find their perfect match. Holly was a “long stay” who had been with us for over a year!

Holly became a huge part of the SAPA! family during her extended vacation with us. She is full of love and is an absolute sweetheart, but it took some time for potential adopters to see the wonderful qualities Holly possesses that we were able to see every day. Holly had a record of being picky when it came to making friends with fellow dogs, but after her time and training with us she has learned to trust and enjoy their company quite well.

The day Holly had been waiting for finally came yesterday when her future parents walked through our doors. They played ball with her and were really impressed with how athletic she was. Holly loves to run, which is perfect because her parents love to run too! They decided they couldn’t leave without her, and Holly went home with the family she had been waiting 386 days to find. Holly and her new family are looking forward to an active, outdoorsy, and above all, loving life together.

Have fun Holly, we will miss you dearly!


P.O. Box 830006 San Antonio, TX 78283 | 210-370-7612 |

© San Antonio Pets Alive!