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RGVHS: Saving Lives, One Animal at a Time

Updated: Mar 17

(This article was written by Lisa Campos and appeared in the December 2023 issue of the Explore Harlingen Magazine.)

The Rio Grande Valley Humane Society (RGVHS) is a non-profit 501(c)3, community animal shelter based in Harlingen, with a second location in Mission. RGVHS serves more than 6,000 animals each year, either brought in by municipal animal control officers or surrendered by local residents.

A Leader Steps Down

The RGVHS Board of Directors announced on November 20, 2023, that executive director Luis Quintanilla resigned after nearly four years in the position. Melissa Saldana has been appointed interim executive director.

Photo courtesy of RGVHS: Luis Quintanilla, former Executive Director

Mr. Quintanilla came to RGVHS in February 2020 when the shelter, previously known as the Humane Society of Harlingen, used to euthanize 85 percent of the animals that came into the shelter. RGVHS board president, Lillian Cantu Kim reflected, “His passion and commitment to the animals and the community transformed the animal shelter (in Harlingen) from a high-volume euthanasia shelter to a no-kill shelter.” Mrs. Kim continued, “This transformation is the legacy that he leaves behind. It won’t be forgotten.”

From February 21, 2020, through November 20, 2023, during Mr. Quintanilla’s tenure, RGVHS saved 10,719 homeless cats and dogs. Under Mr. Quintanilla’s leadership, RGVHS has received national recognition due to the following accomplishments:

  • Animal adoptions: 7,882

  • Animals transferred to rescue partner: 3,888

  • Animals reunited with owner: 1,520

  • Community cats returned to field: 2,358

  • Animals fostered: 5,948

  • Spay/neuter surgeries performed: 8,783

  • Animals served through monthly community clinics: 15,725

  • Save rate for 2022: 94.3%

  • Animals killed for space: 0

It is the RGVHS’ hope that they can continue to build upon the strong foundation that Mr. Quintanilla created as they move forward into 2024.

Photo courtesy of RGVHS: Staff and board president with No Kill Status certificate

Ways RGVHS Supports the Community

Currently, RGVHS hosts monthly community clinics at both their Harlingen and Mission locations. At these clinics, RGV residents can receive discounted vaccinations and medications for their pets, such as rabies, Bordetella, dewormer, flea/tick preventative, heartworm preventative, and more.

Because spaying and neutering pets is strongly recommended to help limit the pet population, RGVHS provides low-cost spay and neutering services at a fraction of the cost that you would pay at a veterinary office.

Ways the Community Can Support RGVHS

There are many ways that the community can help RGVHS with their mission. Donations are always welcomed. You can drop off frequently needed items such as blankets, towels, dog and cat food, paper towels, and newspapers. Or you can donate a set amount every month with the monthly giving program on their website, Event sponsorships help the RGVHS continue its lifesaving efforts. The RGVHS’ biggest fundraiser, the Wine and Whiskers gala, is set for April 6, 2024.

Additionally, RGVHS continuously needs fosters to help free up space at the shelter and place animals in homes, even if temporarily. They also accept volunteers. This past summer, my daughter volunteered weekly to read to the kittens at RGVHS. We became so enamored with the cats and kittens that we decided to foster-to-adopt a little brown tabby kitten named Cindy Clawford after our beloved dog had passed away. We ultimately adopted Cindy, and she helped us tremendously with the grieving process with her loving yet spunky personality.

Photo courtesy of RGVHS. The day we adopted Cindy Clawford!

The RGVHS in Harlingen is located at 1106 Markowsky Ave., and is open 7 days a week, with extended hours of 11 am to 6 pm (regular business hours are 1 pm to 6 pm). You can contact them by phone at 956-428-1022, on their website (, or via email, The Mission location is at 227 Abelino Farias Street with the same hours. They can be contacted at 956-591-0058 or via email,

1 Comment

Luis Quintanilla defrauds the public and misappropriates funds. Tax payers funds. His ruse about killing animals is losing its effect. He kills more animals than anyone I know- he just does it in a different way- by letting them die slow deaths on the streeta because he won’t let them come inside because he has to deal with them. This same ruse is unfolding all over the country.. and people are waking up- and everywhere this scam goes- it’s the same story. If Luis and his scam program want a non profit rescue- stop taking tax payer money. Just go open up your own rescue and problem solved. Let the city continue picking up animals to keep th…

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