by Berit Mason | September 1, 2020 | Ask Roxie

A gang of Aunt Bees swing into action to fight pet overpopulation


In 1986, a friendly group of Boerne ladies got together to help animals. Instead of a bake sale, they held garage sales, and pretty soon, their cigar boxes overflowed with cash.

Then they got ambitious. They bought an empty building on the town’s main drag, and three decades later, it is the popular Hill Country Animal League Thrift Store.

“Initially, they focused on adoptions,” explains Dawn Fulgham, Executive Director of the Hill Country Animal League. “Then they focused on spay and neuter, as the best way to help.”

It is the best way because the fewer the unwanted pets, the fewer the unwanted pets, if you see what I mean. “In 2006, is when they bought the building on North Main, to do spay and neuter,” she says. That second building is the low-cost Hill Country Animal League Vet Clinic.

“We serve 15 counties around here. And we don’t discriminate! If you can get here, and provide the right information on your animal, we don’t care where you live,” says Fulgham. “We have what we call ‘public pricing’ for low-income families,” for those earning $49,000, or less.

They have fixed some 80,000 animals.

Multiply that by three, a conservative number for a litter, and these do-gooders have stopped about a quarter of a million pets from being born, poor dogs and cats most likely winding up homeless, and alone.

Need low-cost vaccinations, rabies shots, and a wellness check, too? The clinic does those. This pandemic is forcing people to clean out their storage unit rentals to cut expenses. Do you know where you can donate extra stuff?

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“We are accepting donations,” she says. The thrift store accepts clean items, in good repair, and they’ll collect furniture donations. “But we prefer not to have to go into your home.” Just park the pieces curbside, or in the garage.

They make exceptions for single people and the elderly. The league shuttered operations this spring, but they’ve reopened, armed with masks, and hand sanitizer. The Hill Country Animal League Thrift Store is the largest such store in Boerne.

“We have our regulars, and we have sales. We do social media promotions. I am trying to see a way to do online sales, as sales are down. We keep people to a 30-minute visit; some sales are outside,” says Fulgham.

ALL profits go to the clinic, after salaries and expenses.

If a pet owner pays $30.00 to fix a cat, it costs the clinic $100.00, so they’re not making any money. Sales from the thrift store and grants make up the difference.

“If you build it, and they will come,” proven true as the Prentice Foundation and the Judy Calder Foundation stepped up, with much-needed contributions.

What I like about this story is all the good, coming from goodwill. The passion and conviction of founders Catherine Carigan, Linda Buhaug, and Sharel Musgrove brought their community a wonderful store and an accessible vet clinic.

Until next month!
Woof, woof,


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Berit Mason was born in Greenwich Village, New York, the daughter of a Random House author. Her mother was an artist from Norway. She grew up abroad, before her family settled in San Antonio, where she attended St. Mary’s Hall, and Alamo Heights schools. She attended Mary Baldwin College, graduating from Austin College, in Sherman, Texas, with a B.A. in Political Science. She interned at CNN Washington, covering the US Supreme Court, and was a TV anchor and reporter in Waco, and in San Angelo. Berit was a radio reporter for Texas Public Radio and WOAI 1200 AM, and she was a select RIAS Berlin Commission German American Exchange Journalist. Berit is a freelance journalist, working for NPR, has written for the San Antonio Business Journal, “SA Scene”, now writing for “78209” and “SA Woman”.
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