Axed SNAP founder Sean Hawkins starts over
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1995:
HOUSTON––Either Spay/Neuter Assistance
Program founder Sean Hawkins was fired on May 26,
2005, as the June edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE
reported, or Hawkins was still CEO, as the SNAP
board claimed in a June 6 statement.
Whichever it was, Hawkins on June 20 sub-
mitted his formal resignation, and on July 5 announced
the formation of a new charity, Saving Animals Across
Borders, to carry out a mission similar to that of SNAP
but with a stronger international emphasis.
“Based in Houston, Saving Animals will pro-
mote the adoption of healthy dogs and cats,” Hawkins
said on July 5, “and will increase the availability of ani-
mal sterilization services, to ultimately wipe out animal
homelessness in communities where these programs and
services are not available.
“Saving Animals’ efforts in Houston will
focus on building a state-of-the-art animal sterilization,
wellness, and adoption center for animals in economi-
cally challenged families,” Hawkins declared. “The
facility will be a worldwide training center for veterinar-
ians and animal protection organizations, to showcase
and teach best practices and latest techniques in animal
health care and sterilization.
“Saving Animals will expand humane ser-
vices and best practices throughout the Mexican border
region, as well as critical areas of need in central
Mexico,” Hawkins pledged.
Joining Hawkins on the start-up team are for-
mer SNAP chief veterinarian Gil Costas, named inter-
national program director, and Denise Burton, who is
director of development.
Melanie Lambert, vice president of the
Dallas-based Summerlee Foundation, told Salatheia
Bryant of the Houston Chronicle that Summerlee had
granted more than $1 million to SNAP since 1998, but
will direct future grants to Saving Animals Across
Borders. Seven other foundations also pledged that their
funding––$1.75 million in 2004––would likewise follow
Hawkins. Their contributions together made up 55% of
the SNAP budget.
Responded SNAP board president Norman
Ritchie, “SNAP has a strong identity. Sean’s impact
on fundraising has been exaggerated. There’s certainly
enough money in Houston. It’s going to be a test to see
if all of us can tap into it.”
“I can’t see Sean in any other business,”
Citizens for Animal Protection executive director Kappy
Muenzer told Bryant. “He wants things better for ani-
mals everywhere. I think he’ll be able to make a success
of this new organization.”
Hawkins debuted in humane work as a CAP
volunteer cage-cleaner and dog-walker while still in
junior high school. He founded SNAP in 1994 as a pro-
gram of the Fund for Animals, took it independent in
2000, and built it into a $3 million-a-year organization,
sterilizing about 50,000 dogs and cats per year in six
southwestern states and northern Mexico.
Hawkins split with SNAP about six months
after a transition of board members was followed by
conflict with new board president Norman Ritchie and
board member Glenda Davis over how to run a steriliza-
tion program on the Navajo Nation. Davis also heads
the Navajo Nation Veterinary & Livestock Program.
Hawkins on May 26 told ANIMAL PEOPLE
that Ritchie had directed him to end the Navajo Nation
SNAP project. “Now that SNAP sterilization services
have halted, the Navajo Nation has resumed shooting
all the dogs it can catch,” Hawkins alleged.
SNAP representative Hazel Greenberg on July
15 responded that, “Our Native American Project and
New Mexico mobile clinic has been and still is in opera-
tion. Whatever its future, that truck has been and is
operating presently, and was never down.”
Returned Hawkins, “SNAP is currently in
negotiations to sell the Albuquerque mobile clinic to the
Humane Society of the U.S. or the Humane Alliance,” a
North Carolina-based sterilization outreach program.
“Even the staff in Albuquerque is aware of
this,” Hawkins said, “and the management is currently
looking for employment elsewhere.”
SNAP interim CEO Jim Weedon, DVM, did
not respond to an ANIMAL PEOPLEinquiry.
The May 26 rift between Hawkins and SNAP
came less than three weeks after Hawkins accepted the
Airline Animal Transportation Association’s Animal
Welfare Award in Calgary, Alberta, in recognition of
SNAP’s disaster response efforts in the Cayman Islands
after Hurricane Ivan in August 2004.
SNAP, CAP, Cayman Airways, and the
Houston SPCA collaborated to evacuate and adopt out
the animals who were left homeless after Ivan destroyed
the only shelter in the Cayman Islands.
[Contact Saving Animals Across Borders c/o
P. O. Box 130897, Houston, TX 77219; 713-527-4490;