HISTORY OF PVAS

Palm Valley Animal Society was founded in 1974 as the Upper Valley Humane Society (UVHS), located in McAllen, TX. The facility was turned over to UVHS by the city to carry out the functions of municipal animal control.

In 1981, UVHS received a donation of 2.5 acres of land at 2501 W Trenton Rd in Edinburg. A subsequent purchase of 2.5 adjacent acres resulted in a total of 5 acres for the organization. Contributions from nearby communities, as well as donations from local citizens ($50,000 from Bob Sobel and $100,000 from L.L. Rowan) secured construction on the land and the facility opened in October 1983 with 56 dog runs and 60 cat kennels.

 

In 2007 the UVHS Board of Directors voted to change the name of the organization to Palm Valley Animal Center (PVAC).

 

In April 2016 the Laurie P. Andrews PAWS Center opened, offering a state-of-the-art adoption center, education and community center, and a full veterinary surgical clinic. PAWS features community cat rooms, kitten playrooms, and housing for more than 100 dogs and puppies. PAWS also features two publicly available dog parks for large and small dogs. The Edinburg Foundation was instrumental in securing the site and donated $1.2 million to the project.

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In May of 2018, the board of directors voted to introduce more lifesaving strategies, and with the help of national animal welfare organizations such as American Pets Alive, Best Friends Animal Society, Maddie’s Fund, and Petco Foundation, Palm Valley Animal Center began making strides towards the goal of finding live outcomes for at least 90% of the animals entering the facility. Palm Valley Animal Center was reopened as a full adoption center in 2018.

In September of 2019, the PVAC Board of Directors voted to change the name of the organization to Palm Valley Animal Society (PVAS), with its two facilities being PVAS Trenton Center and PVAS Laurie P Andrews Center. The name change represents a celebration of recent improvements in lifesaving at the organization, as well as its commitment to being the standard-bearer for progressive lifesaving in the Rio Grande Valley.

Since our inception, PVAS has grown from receiving several hundred animals a year, with 22 dog runs and 9 cat kennels, to serving 550,000 residents and more than 15,000 animals a year with 350 dog runs and 185 cat kennels. Our staff has grown from a few volunteer helpers to more than 100 trained professionals. Learn more about our programs, services, and impact here.

MOVING BEYOND NO-KILL

Working toward a safe, humane community for RGV pets and the people who love them. 

The evolution of animal welfare has impacted Palm Valley Animal Society in so many ways. From humble beginnings nearly 50 years ago, the organization grew in response to the number of homeless animals in the RGV. By the early 2000s, thousands of pets were coming into the shelter each year, but sadly, most were not leaving alive. By 2017, the number of homeless animals in the RGV had exploded, and PVAS was intaking more than 30,000 animals every year. Something had to give. Euthanasia wasn’t a solution that was working. 

More than 20 years earlier, a movement had started to brew. Called ‘no-kill’, it was a bold attempt by animal advocates to call out sheltering organizations and municipalities and get them to commit to saving more lives. The language caught on, and within 10 years of the first “no-kill” shelter, nearly every shelter was keenly aware of the label whether they used it or not.

 

In 2018, PVAS signed on to using “no-kill” language too. It’s sharp, quick and easy to understand.

 

Except it’s not. 

Hanging the success or failure of an entire organization on one number eliminates the opportunity for organizations to tell the whole story. Most importantly, as the animal welfare industry moves away from shelter intake and toward a model that aims to keep animals with their homes by providing more human-animal services instead bringing animals into the shelter in the first place, the save rate that we’ve analyzed and argued about for so many years will be just a small fraction of what is actually happening at the shelter. 

At PVAS, we have met the magic number of 90% save rate. We also dropped below that magic number. And then we’ve been on top of it again.

The No-Kill Label: Looking Beyond the Words

There is no governing body that monitors the definition. In its infancy, a no-kill shelter was one that saved the lives of 80% of pets. As shelters signed on and lifesaving practices improved, the percentage rose to 85%. Then to 90%. Now it's at 95% for some.

 

One number has been the measure of success in the industry, but it is not static. Once a shelter reaches that magic number (whatever it may be), then keeping it there continues to be a moving target with many fluctuating variables.

No-kill doesn’t mean that euthanasia never happens. Because of abuse, illness, or other maltreatment, not every animal is safe to be released back into our community. Furthermore, no-kill often sets aside quality of life. A shelter full of animals that don’t have any access to express their natural behavior is not a quality of life. 

By its very nature, the term ‘no-kill’ sets up an opposite, a ‘kill’ shelter. The success of the ‘no-kill’ marketing automatically labeled those who didn’t adopt the language as uninterested or unwilling to save lives. No one applies to work at a shelter because they are interested in killing animals. Shelter staff work tirelessly to save lives, but they also know that solutions have limits, not all animals are safe for the community, and that euthanasia is sometimes necessary. 

So Where Does Palm Valley Animal Society Stand on the No-Kill Issue Then?

The shelter is a dynamic environment, and one number doesn’t tell the total story of lifesaving.

 

This is why you won’t hear us using ‘no-kill’ language anymore. However, just because the language is gone doesn’t mean we are uninterested or unwilling to save lives. In fact, the opposite is true. We are working harder than ever to save lives. Through incredible support in the community and beyond, we finished 2021 with an 88.2% save rate. But there’s so much more. We gave out hundreds of thousands of pounds of food to keep pets at home. We worked with more than 3,000 families to help them through the struggle of not wanting to release their pet to the shelter. We vaccinated or microchipped more than 2,700 pets in our community. 

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We are saving lives and keeping families together. We value the momentum that the no-kill movement gave the Rio Grande Valley to turn the tide on needlessly killing pets, but we’re ready to move beyond no-kill language and work with you to create a safe, humane community for all pets and the people who love them.  Join us!

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