How it all started…
McKinley County Humane Society was founded in 1988 by local veterinarian, Dr. Clint Balok and his wife, Cosy Balok – who had a desire to help thousands of homeless and unwanted animals wandering McKinley County and west-central New Mexico.
Initially, the shelter experienced a high euthanasia rate because the intake of animals was far more than the number of local adoptions.
During those early days without internet, getting the word out about adoptions was a little more grassroots than it is today. We would post animal photos in the local newspaper as “Pets of the Week” and mail photos of animals to prospective adopters out-of-the area.
In 1993, we received our legal nonprofit status and began increasing our capacity to serve more animals by developing relationships with donors and creating partnerships with animal welfare supporters like shelters and humane societies in other states, the City of Gallup, and neighboring Navajo and Zuni Pueblo communities.
Our first pet transport took place in 2001. Shortly thereafter, we began monthly transfers to other areas of New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, and Colorado where the animals we rescued were more likely to get adopted. As a result, we quickly gained a reputation with our animal welfare partners as a solution for obtaining steady, reliable supplies of adoptable animals.
Around that same time, Dr. Clint began using visiting veterinarians to host mobile spay/neuter clinics in nearby reservation communities – offering those residents convenient, low-cost, and trustworthy services for their pets. Our success with these clinics helped us secure grants used to expand our spay/neuter services and equip a surgery room in the shelter.
Through the joint efforts of pet transports and spay/neuter clinics, we are now making great strides in animal overpopulation issues in our region and savings thousands of lives each year.
Over the years, the endless hard work and commitment of individuals in our region has helped create a network of supporters and services dedicated to the humane treatment and well-being of animals that come our way.