Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center Celebrates 20th Anniversary with Major Expansion

May 9, 2013 Off By Roberta Johnston

Supporters of the Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) gathered Friday to celebrate the dedication of the recently completed building expansion.

“It is very exciting to celebrate 20 years of caring for companion animals when their owners are no longer able to provide for them,” said Dr. Eleanor Green, Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine. “Today, not only do we reflect on the two decades of compassionate care provided within these walls, we officially open the newly completed expansion to the facility that will enhance the comfort and care provided for residents now and in the future.”

The Stevenson Center provides for the physical, emotional, and medical needs of companion animals whose owners cannot do so, either because they are entering a retirement home, being hospitalized for an extended period, or predeceasing a pet.

“People should know we are an option for them, if they don’t have anyone to care for their pets,” said Ellie Greenbaum, Associate Director of the Center.

The new addition, on which construction began nearly a year ago in July 2012, is 3,300 square feet and includes two rooms each for dogs, cats, and birds.  Special features in the aviaries, which are needed for the twelve birds currently enrolled to live at the center someday, include soundproofing panels and solar tubes to allow natural light and to reduce reliance on electricity. Both the cat and bird rooms have enclosed sun porches and the dog rooms have separate fenced-in yards.

The Center’s expansion was made possible by the generosity of 68 donors who made contributions totaling approximately $900,000.

“We are extremely grateful to our many donors and friends that have so generously supported the Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center over the past 20 years,” said Henry L. “Sonny” Presnal, DVM, Director of the Stevenson Center. “Through the generosity of many, the Center’s facility should be positioned to accommodate the resident pets that will enter the Center in the foreseeable future.”

This is the second expansion of the Stevenson Center, which opened in 1993. The total space of the Center, including the new addition, is about 11,000 square feet and will be able to house about 100 pets. It is completely self-sustaining with donations and income from the endowment.

A stable behind the main building houses the center’s resident llama, with space for other large companion animals should the need arise.

Four veterinary students—currently a first-year, two second-year and a third-year—live at the center to provide around-the-clock care to the resident animals. The placement of cameras and video monitors around the center allows the staff to keep a constant watch on their charges. Living day-to-day with the pets—many of whom are older and thus have the health problems of older animals—makes the students very compassionate, Greenbaum said.

“We feel very privileged,” Greenbaum said, “that so many owners have entrusted us with the care of their pets.”

Enrollees at the center include dogs, cats, birds, horses, and donkeys. To secure a spot for their pet, owners need to establish an endowment, the requirements for which vary depending upon the age of the owner at the time of the enrollment, that can be paid up front or through a bequest or life insurance benefit.

Center staff will pick up enrolled animals anywhere in Texas when necessary. The first stop for the pets—before they even enter the Center—is the CVM Small Animal Hospital, where they are thoroughly examined before joining the other animals. The hospital and its veterinarians also provide care whenever a Center resident is sick or injured, ensuring the animals get the best care available.

The Center is situated on three acres beside the CVM campus. Its name honors the late Madlin Stevenson, a major initial supporter of the project. The building itself is the W.P. Luse Foundation Building, named in honor of the Luse Foundation’s support.

“We’re excited about this expansion and the added comfort it will bring to our residents,” Greenbaum said. “We’ve been working very hard.”

“We have strived to provide a home for pets when their owners can no longer care for them in as near a home-like environment as possible,” said Presnal, “and we feel that we have been successful in accomplishing our goal.”


 Photo captionDean Eleanor Green, holding Stevenson Center resident Happy, speaks to assembled guests at the dedication of the building expansion.