Community Portrait: Shaw loves animals, but cats are her passion

Community Portrait
By: Story and photo Michael Kirby
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In front of Animal Spay & Neuter (ASN) in North Auburn sits a car with the personalized license plate reading MEOWS 4, and within minutes it is easy to guess whose car claims this special plate.
Dede Shaw is one of the driving forces of the community service non-profit organization whose mission is to provide low cost care, including sterilization and vaccinations for Placer County cats and dogs.
CatManDude a pretty, big and gray cat wanders the hall and rooms of the clinic like he owns the place and finds a spot to lay and purr by me while I interview Shaw. “Dude” is the clinic cat and photos of him in funny outfits and hats are posted on the bulletin board, he even has his own Facebook page.
This place loves cats and dogs and their mission is to care for these animals and help pet owners do the right thing by having their pets spayed or neutered early.
“The cat thing is all my mother’s fault, when I was growing up we were always taking in rescue cats and dogs," Shaw said. “Spay and neutering has always been the most important thing to me, if you spay and neuter, you don’t have a population problem.”
Shaw believes that without the spaying and neutering of young cats and dogs early, usually at eight weeks, a real problem with overpopulation will exist.
“It’s not an animal problem, it’s a people problem because they don’t do it,” Shaw said.
Costs of traditional spay and neutering sometimes makes the process prohibitive to some families, and having a low cost alternative is important to the goal of controlling the pet population and lowering the number of unwanted cats and dogs.
Shaw moved to the area in 1978, and with a couple of other like-minded people started a small low cost spay and neuter clinic in the Dewitt Center. The clinic closed in 1985 and re-opened in its current location in 1993. Currently 17 people work at the clinic throughout the week including four veterinarians.
On an average day the clinic sees 60-80 animals. They sterilize about 14,000 animals per year. The clinic also offers low cost vaccinations and a wellness clinic for cats and dogs Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., no appointment necessary. Animals visiting the clinic with a serious problem are referred to local veterinarians.
“Every animal that comes in here is examined by a veterinarian, it’s not just a glance at, they get an exam,” Shaw said.
ASN is also experienced in working with organizations and individuals in an effort to control feral cat colonies in the county. They recommend a trap, neuter and release program that puts these cats back into the colony.
“The feral cat problem is a big issue,” Shaw said.
Shaw along with fellow board members and founders Julie Anderson and Nancy McAlpin founded the ASN clinic. Since 1993, over 175,000 animals have been altered.
“We’re making a dent in the problem, I’d hate to think what it would be like if we were not here,” Shaw said.
Shaw lives in Foresthill with George her husband of 40 years and multiple cats. George has been very helpful in the upkeep of the clinic, always working on some repair and supporting Shaw in her endeavors. From 1989 until 2004 Shaw also ran a cat specialty store in Old Town Auburn called Catterfly.
“I love animals but cats are my passion,” Shaw said.


Animal Spay & Neuter clinic
3524 K.O.A. Way
Open: Monday through Thursday