Did you know that Houston PetSet provides grants to 70+ Greater Houston animal welfare organizations each year? Our new “Rescue Feature Friday” series highlights one of our amazing partners so that you can learn more about the nonprofits that work so hard every day to end animal homelessness and suffering.
Today, we’re excited to feature Animal Justice League! With funding from our grant, their nonprofit is able to provide free, quarterly microchipping events to pet parents in low-income neighborhoods. On average, at each event, Animal Justice League microchips 75 animals. These microchipped animals have a greater chance of being returned home if ever lost, and are more likely to be kept out of shelters and rescues.
Keep reading on to learn about the work Animal Justice League does #ForTheAnimals!
> What is the mission of Animal Justice League?
Our mission is to reduce the homeless pet population through rescue, education and outreach.
> When was your organization established?
> How did you become involved in your organization and what is your current role?
Cassi Squyres Walker, President of the Board of Directors – I began fostering dogs for AJL after fostering for other organizations in the Houston area.
> Do you work with your organization as a paid or volunteer, full-time or part-time member?
We are an entirely volunteer-run organization. Most days it’s in a part-time capacity.
> What keeps you motivated to continue your work?
The highs and the lows. It makes sense that a lot of my motivation stems from the victories. It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to contribute to the successful rehabilitation of a tough medical case. Or to watch a once under-socialized dog confidently trot up to a stranger for a greeting. But I think some of my most motivating cases have actually been losses. The ones that we could’ve saved if we had gotten to them just a little bit sooner. The heartworm cases that can’t be treated, the loose dog that gets hit by a car, the stray whose health is too far gone. It’s heartbreaking. To have that animal in your care and know that no amount of money or effort can save them now. Those are the ones that really push me to try to help as many animals as I can so that they never find themselves at the point of no return.
> What are you most proud of accomplishing?
I have spent a lot of my time on the AJL board working to improve our cost and efficiency of vetting. The more $$ we can save, the more animals we can help. It wasn’t necessarily what I set out to do, but came about as a necessity when, early in COVID lockdown, we were dropped by one of our primary vet partners. “No more rescue appointments.” And that was that. At a time when we were already seeing a large influx of in-program animals due to shelter shut-downs and watching our community around us scramble to help animals with no resources, slowing down wasn’t an option. So we made new partnerships, took some of our vetting in-house and overhauled our internal systems for better tracking and scheduling. We were already so busy with the increased volume of animals that, at times, it felt insane to focus on relationship building with new vet partners and process efficiencies. But we did it. And we built a model we’ve since started applying to other areas of our organization. I feel good knowing that the groundwork has been laid for continued growth and that having these tools in place will allow everyone to focus more on the animals in our care.
> What is something about your organization that the average person might not know?
Animal Justice League started largely as a trap neuter return (TNR) effort. Dedicated rescuers came together to address that very real need in the Heights and Oak Forest areas. Since then, rescue/adoption and transport have been added to our core functions. But we remain staunch believers in TNR and outreach spay/neuter efforts. We simply cannot adopt our way out of Houston’s stray animal crisis.
> Describe your vision for the future of animal welfare in Greater Houston.
We need access to our county and city services. BARC needs to reopen intake and the TNR program. I would also love to see education efforts from Harris County and the City of Houston. An educational campaign covering spay/neuter, proper care for owned animals and heartworms is long overdue.
Thank you, Animal Justice League, for all you do!
*Photos courtesy of Animal Justice League*