Axed SNAP founder Sean Hawkins starts over
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2005:
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 submitted 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 promote the adoption
of healthy dogs and cats,” Hawkins said on July 5, “and will
increase the availability of animal 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 economically challenged families,” Hawkins
declared. “The facility will be a worldwide training center for
veterinarians and animal protection organizations, to showcase and
teach best practices and latest techniques in animal health care and
“Saving Animals will expand humane services 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 former SNAP chief
veterinarian Gil Costas, named international 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 animals 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 program 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
sterilization 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 operation. 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
“Even the staff in Albuquerque is aware of this,” Hawkins
said, “and the management is currently looking for employment
SNAP interim CEO Jim Weedon, DVM, did not respond to an ANIMAL
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.
Houston, TX 77219; 713-527-4490; <email@example.com>.]