In an earlier column, I wrote about quixotic and colorful characters of Socorro, mentioning that El Defensor Chieftain over the years had printed interviews under various titles. One was “In Focus,” a take-off, perhaps, of the fellow who wrote most of them and who really wanted to be another Ansel Adams. More recently, the weekly feature was called “52 faces” I believe, referring obviously to the number of weeks in a year.
Most of the columns I have written in this new version of “Gwen and Bear It” have been about me or my experiences. And while I can gab on and on about myself, actually I am rather boring. So, in addition to writing about the off-beat or local history, I’d like to introduce you to some people in the area who are doing good things. Influencers, I guess, is the “new” “big” word.
I first heard about Leah Tevis when I was staying with friends in Bosquecito. Their cat had gone missing and presumed dead; however, in a normal kind of Socorro way someone knew someone who knew, etc., and my friends were reunited with their cat because of her.
Leah is not a ho-hum, stay out of people’s business sort of gal. “I’m kinda like a pit bull,” says Leah. “When I see a problem, I go gung ho. I can’t walk away.”
When Tevis moved to the area two and a half years ago, she noticed a large number of feral cats and dogs. “I stumbled across APAS (Animal Protective Association of Socorro). It’s a wonderful resource. I want to scream from the roof tops about them.”
Leah is one of two citizens in San Antonio intent on ridding the village of the proliferation of cats and dogs. She didn’t know her neighbor at first; now that they know each other, they often share resources—and look for ways to involve others.
“I’m a big animal advocate,” Leah says. That she loves cats is easy to see with various felines lounging around her little home here. A variety of toys and scratching posts add a comfortable feeling to the place.
Dogs also are a problem. “I see them running loose everywhere. It’s not just the safety of people but of dogs too, whether you’re walking or driving.
“I’m the kind of person, if I see a dog, I pull over. I have a chip reader. But 10 out of 10 times here they are not chipped.”
She doesn’t take them home, though, as it is too upsetting for the cats. Leah has found homes willing to foster a dog until they can be adopted. “Before I adopt a dog out, they are spayed or neutered,” she said.
“As people, it’s our responsibility to take care of animals. And the number one way to take control of the situation is to have them spayed or neutered. I heard somewhere that one cat can impregnate five cats in one day.” It doesn’t take much imagination to know that’s a whole lot of kittens.
Leah revived the program of Trap-Neuter-Release, abbreviated TNR. “You do the work. You trap them, and APAS has a coupon that takes care of the veterinary costs.” Then you release them back into their previous habitat. “I like to keep females a week,” she says, to make sure they are healing. But they should at least be kept overnight as they need to limit eating and drinking.
APAS also has coupons for low-income residents. The $200 coupons usually cover all or most of the costs to spay or neuter. APAS also donates food for pets which low-income folks can get through the Storehouse.
“It’s very important to me and I urge everyone to get involved in any way they can.” Currently, the two rescuers of San Antonio are mulling ways to fundraise to get more traps. They’re expensive and they could use more.
In addition to saving cats and dogs, Leah is just finishing up her Master of Science degree in geology and will be teaching the high school’s Upward Bound program this summer and during school year.