7,000 animals and counting

Auburn spay and neuter clinic’s numbers highlight overpopulation
By: Jenifer Gee Journal News Editor
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The year isn’t over and Dede Shaw estimates that her clinic will spay and neuter close to 13,000 animals by its end. “(The numbers) are up substantially from last year,” Shaw said. Shaw is the clinic manager of the Animal Spay and Neuter clinic in Auburn. Recently she said unspayed, abandoned cats are one of the biggest reasons why her staff of veterinarians and technicians is performing about 60 to 80 surgeries a day, which as of earlier this month brought them to a little more than 7,000 animals treated. “A lot of it is due to the economy,” Shaw said. “People walked off and left their cats.” The clinic isn’t the only place feeling the impacts of too many animals and not enough space to keep them. Rescue groups and shelters are filled to the brim with mostly adult cats and — especially at this time of year — kittens. Some veterinary clinics get calls every day from pet owners requesting a spay or neuter procedure and perform the operation three to five times daily. And for Shaw and others, there is no end in sight. “I foresee next year being even worse because we can’t keep up,” Shaw said of the growing population of unwanted and breeding animals. The spay and neuter clinic, which is tucked away on KOA Way off Highway 49, opened in 1993. Since then, the clinic has spayed or neutered approximately 150,000 animals, Shaw said. The only number that may rival the surgeries performed at the clinic is the constant stream of phone calls staff answers on a daily basis. The clinic is solely supported financially by the income it generates from surgeries and vaccines, Shaw said. Revenues from its low-cost surgery and vaccine services are what pay for employees, rent, electricity and more. The cost to spay or neuter a cat ranges from $10 to $30, depending on the age and size of the feline and its sex. The same procedure for a dog is based on its weight and can vary in price from $20 for a male puppy to $75 for a 90- to 99-pound female dog. Shaw said she offers the procedure at a low cost. That is the primary focus of the clinic. Shaw said any grants or donations that the clinic receives go directly to helping community members in need. Recently the clinic was awarded funds to spay or neuter animals for low-income residents or for those who live in a mobile home. Applegate residents Krystal and Mark Selvidge were one of the recipients of that grant money. The Selvidges, whose household includes three children, two adults and two additional dogs, sustain on about $2,000 a month. The couple recently had their 7-month-old Labrador/pitbull mix, Spud, neutered at the clinic. “One of our main goals is no more puppies,” Krystal Selvidge. “It’s just too expensive.” Krystal Selvidge said it only took about two weeks to make and get an appointment for Spud. However, Shaw understands that others can’t get a surgery as quickly or easily. During this time of year, Shaw said most of the appointments are for cats given the overpopulation of kittens during the late spring and summer. That means spay and neuters for dogs are put on the back burner until wintertime. Shaw said currently the clinic has about 24 dog appointments a week and about 100 people vying for those spots. “Believe me, we get yelled at,” Shaw said. “I’m grateful people want to get their animal spayed or neutered but I can only do a certain number of animals safely.” Kristy McCamy, a veterinarian at Edgewood Veterinary Clinic in Auburn, said that a spay or neuter procedure at their hospital ranges from $90 for a cat to $100 for a dog younger than 2 and weighing between one and 23 pounds. McCamy said the cost can add up because the hospital uses strong sutures that do not absolve into the skin and includes pain medications and sedation. McCamy said Edgewood also recommends and offers blood work and other recommended tests for the procedure that are an additional cost but important to check and ensure the animal’s welfare. “You really want to have the animal examined carefully and make sure they’re acting healthy and happy before you do an elective procedure,” McCamy said. Both McCamy and Shaw agree that spay and neuter surgeries can be beneficial to pets and prevent overpopulation. However, Shaw added that she knows there are many more busy days ahead of her. “When we moved in I thought we had lots of room,” Shaw said. “Now I wish we could push the walls back. “The idea is to keep this going forever because the need isn’t changing.” Reach Jenifer Gee at ---------- Spays and Neuters — By the numbers. The following are figures from the Animal Spay and Neuter Clinic in Auburn from Jan. 1 to Aug. 3 of this year. 605 — Dog spays 336 — Dog neuters 3,328 — Cat and kitten spays 2,828 — Cat and kitten neuters 150,000 — Estimated total number of procedures completed at the clinic since its opening in 1993 ----------