October 3, 2023

As my mom searched the classified advertisements, my excitement grew as she smiled and read, “Free kittens to a good home. Do you want to go see them?” Of course, as a young girl, I was always in agreement with pulling an adorable, furball of a kitten out of an oversized box and declaring it my new best friend. And sometimes, I could even convince my mom that I needed two, so they could play together. During the simple days of my childhood, it was easy to see that more kittens always meant better.

Fast forward 30 years or so, and my view has drastically changed after learning from folks like Monique and Loyd Wellesley, who dedicate their lives to not only educating others about the feline and canine overpopulation, but also spend much of their time humanely trapping, neutering or spaying, and releasing feral animals to live better lives.

But like me, Monique and Loyd learned this truth with time. Their animal welfare journey blossomed from an early passion for all animals.

From Roam to Home

Monique vividly remembers her first animal rescue. She trailed a large pup roaming the streets of her Corpus Christi, Texas, neighborhood, gave the dog a home and named her Crystal. “That large pup grew to be about 170 pounds,” Monique recalled. Crystal was just the beginning of a rescue journey that would later include rehoming thousands of dogs and cats.

While Monique explored the city streets saving furry friends, Loyd was also developing a deep-rooted appreciation for animals in rural Southwest Missouri. “I have fond memories of traveling to farms in the country with my grandfather, who was a veterinarian,” he shared. Through his childhood ride-alongs, Loyd learned how to properly treat horses, cattle, sheep, mules, dogs and cats. 

We have committed our entire lives to the health and welfare of all animals, and we believe by educating others, we can make a real difference."
Monique Wellesley

Those early experiences set the path for the meaningful work Monique and Loyd would later set out to do to provide a voice for the countless unwanted cats and dogs filling the streets of Texas.

“A cat can conceive as young as 12 weeks, and a dog as early as four months,” Monique explained. “When these new litters arrive, they desperately need food, shelter and medical care, but they don’t have anyone to provide it. That’s why our goal is to spay and neuter before these animals reproduce. Our motto is, ‘No birth is the first step to no kill.’”

An Aggie Animal Partner

Over the last few years, the Wellesleys—who also own Good Life Pet Sitting—have taken an active role in advocating for and overseeing spay and neuter efforts and animal rescue programs in San Antonio, Texas, and beyond. They’re no strangers to trap-neuter-release (TNR) missions for feral cats, which involve hours of work and patience.

The Wellesley’s spend additional time and money rescuing and finding homes for unwanted dogs. They offer support to many rescue organizations throughout the state and utilize community resources to implement the success of the rescue. They also support the ongoing efforts of volunteers who aid with the transportation and adoption of these furry friends to loving homes in other states. 

“We are striving to make Texas a ‘no kill state’ by educating people—especially young people—about the importance of spay and neuter for all cats and dogs,” Monique explained. “Without this resource many animals would not find their forever homes.”

While on this educational journey, the Wellesleys crossed paths with Aggie veterinarians Drs. Leslie Degen ’95 and Craig Elbel ’78, owners of Bulverde Bexar Veterinary Clinic in Spring Branch, Texas, who partnered with them to care for these unwanted animals. “They always go above and beyond to schedule surgeries for us,” Monique said. “Feral cats and dogs do not cooperate with appointment times,” she added with a laugh.

The Gift of Education

The couple’s appreciation for these Aggie vets, paired with their determination to make a real difference and Monique earning her degree from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, inspired them to expand their efforts from the streets of San Antonio to Texas A&M’s School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences with a generous gift planned in their will.

Monique and Loyd’s gift will support equipment, purchases, renovations and infrastructure improvements for the soon-to-be-established Next Generation Small Animal Teaching Hospital (NGSATH) after their lives. “While our gift is for the hospital, we hope it will aid the NGSATH in its efforts to treat rare illnesses and provide specialized care for small animals throughout Texas,” Monique said. “Additionally, we hope it will play a role in preparing future veterinarians to address some of the challenges they will face through their own animal advocacy efforts, particularly overpopulation.”

The Wellesleys know they face a daunting task in their TNR efforts, but they continue to tirelessly push forward in their good works. “We have committed our entire lives to the health and welfare of all animals,” shared Monique, “and we believe by educating others, we can make a real difference—one feline at a time.”

Want to join the Wellesleys in their mission to improve animal welfare? Contact Matt Callaway ’05 below to learn how you can make a meaningful gift to the School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.