The day they conceived the idea for Brownsville Animal Defense, Shirley Wells and Tessie Sarmiento were having lunch. Wells said she would be onboard if the pet adoption advocates would also work toward making Brownsville a no-kill city.

Ten years later, the group is still going and reached a milestone Wednesday in its mission to find a home for every healthy dog. With a pair of giant scissors and a pop of confetti, volunteers of Brownsville Animal Defense celebrated a ribbon-cutting ceremony for their adoption and education center. It’s the first of its kind in the city, members said.

“I’m ecstatic. I’m looking forward to getting this center up and running, especially the education,” Sarmiento, the group’s president, said.

Volunteers will be holding weekend classes on pet care within the next three months, she said, but will have a few adoptable dogs at the center on weekdays.

Sarmiento stressed the center is not an animal shelter. The dogs that will be there during the week are being fostered by volunteers and go home with them after closing time.

“I’m exhausted, excited and looking forward to all the things we can really, really do,” Wells said. “Now people can come to us. We get them dropping in on us at PetSmart, and they would have to wait until the weekend. Now they can come during the week.”

Sarmiento said pet owners can call BAD any time if they need advice or help with issues like re-homing a dog. Wells said BAD also can help people who what to know what to do if they see animals roaming the street or who have questions about pet adoption.

Wells said BAD has programs aimed at making adoption easier. It has a spay and neuter voucher program for people who may not be able to afford the procedure for their pet, and its Seniors for Seniors initiative encourages the adoption of senior dogs.

It will be open 1-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and BAD members will continue hosting animal adoption events at PetSmart on Saturdays and Sundays.

“Everything we do at PetSmart, we can do here during the week,” Wells said.

Brownsville Animal Defense is located at 1740 Old Port Isabel Road, Brownsville. Get more information by calling (956) 466-0067 or at