Laura Welch joined the Spay-Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP) in January 2006. Previously she was a co-founder and executive director of PAWS Houston, a non-profit organization. She created the mission and developed the infrastructure of PAWS Houston which was formed to help keep terminally ill patients together with their animals as long as possible. Prior to that position, Laura worked for the Greater Houston Partnership coordinating the annual major campaign, golf tournament and other major events. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and volunteers for many organizations including The Rose Foundation, American Brain Tumor Association and various animal organizations. Laura has served on the Pet Patrol Board of Directors and Women’s Home Auxiliary Board. She was a presenter at the Human-Animal Bond World Conference 2005 and at the National Spay-Neuter Conference in 2006.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Perfect happiness is when a dog I have pulled from the shelter, treated for sickness, socialized, etc., finds a wonderful new home. I love seeing the sick, scared dog blossom after receiving love, good nutrition and veterinary care. When I get a note from the animal’s new family saying how much they love the dog, I know that both the people and the dog are making each other’s lives better. Knowing that I helped save that one dog truly helps when I hear of all the other dogs and cats that are euthanized because they could not find a home.
Also, perfect happiness is knowing that I get to come to work every day and do something to help the animals and that I get to work with amazing people that are passionate about making a difference. I am truly happy to go to work everyday.
If you could come back as a dog or a cat, which one would it be & why? Both would be interesting, but I have to say as a dog. Dogs seem to have so much capacity for joy and love. They live in the moment and forgive easily. They don’t require much to make them happy and are not judgmental of others. I think the world would be a much better place if we all had more of these traits.
What is your pets most treasured possession? I have four dogs and each one is so unique. My oldest is Fairway, a female chow that was found on the golf course, and her most treasured possessions are her beds. She is 13 years old and loves her orthopedic beds. I have one in my bedroom and one in the living room. She moves between the two depending on where I am in the house. My youngest, Kabuki, a big mutt I pulled from a local shelter when he was sick with parvo, loves any and all toys. He walks around with a toy in his mouth constantly. He even falls asleep with one in his mouth. The problem is that he is big, 95 lbs., so I have a hard time finding toys that last very long. He tears them up quickly. My other two dogs, Alex and Chaos, love treats. Chicken jerky treats are their favorite.
Your proudest achievement so far? I am so very proud to work for an organization like SNAP that allows me to help so many people and animals in need. The best reward is seeing the smiling faces of clients we serve and knowing that they have resources for low-cost, high-quality health services for their animal companions. I am also very proud to be a rescue/foster volunteer with many groups. Each of these amazing animals has touched my life greatly and I feel so lucky to have been able to help them when they were in need. I know that they pay it forward by showing unconditional love and loyalty to their adoptive parents, and most of all, they all are living happy healthy lives!
Who are your heroes in real life? I have been so fortunate in my life to have several real life heroes. My first hero was my grandfather. He was a larger than life real cowboy. He wore cowboy boots every day of his life. Every little girl dreams of having her own horse and my grandfather got me a horse and all kinds of other animals. He encouraged me to believe I could do anything I wanted. His support was invaluable and continues to inspire me today.
My brother was also my hero. He was diagnosed with brain cancer during his junior year in college. Even while enduring surgery, radiation and chemo, he finished school and got his degree in criminal justice. The seizures that came along with the brain tumor kept him from his dream of being a police officer. Instead he became a juvenile parole officer. The teenage boys loved him, and he was always there for them. Unfortunately, the tumor came back and was more aggressive than before. He was no longer able to drive and had to quit work. Even when he knew he did not have long to live, my brother never complained or gave up. He was so brave. He died with dignity and on his own terms. He will forever be a part of me and forever be missed. I am lucky enough to have his beloved dog Alex in my life and home as one of my companions. I feel like my brother is always with me through Alex. It is such a comfort for us to have each other after losing our hero and best friend.
I have had the great fortune for working for two men that I respect so much. After I graduated from college I went to work for a non-profit in Houston at an entry level position. A few months after I started, George Beatty was hired to lead our department. I could not have asked for a better boss or mentor. George believed in me and gave me a chance when others were not sure I was ready to be promoted. George is one of the most intelligent, kind and honorable people I have ever met. I was lucky to work for him for many years. Even though I have not worked for him since 1999, we are still friends and stay in touch.
My current boss, Dr. Jim Weedon, is another one of my heroes. His commitment and compassion shows in everything he does. He has transformed our organization and has inspired those who work for him. Personally, he has taught me so much. I admire him for stepping up when the organization was in trouble and working so diligently to create a new, stronger, more efficient organization that is currently helping more animals than ever before. He has promoted spay/neuter as the key for ending overpopulation since the 1970s, long before it was popular. He continues to believe in a vision of a world with no homeless animals. I cannot thank him enough for all he has done and continues to do.