In high demand

11/2/2013

Spots in mobile spay/neuter clinic fill up fast for weekend.

Spots in mobile spay/neuter clinic fill up fast for weekend.

By SCOTT AUST

saust@gctelegram.com

When word got out last week about today's Spay Today Mobile Outreach clinic coming to Garden City, it took less than a day to fill up the 120 spay/neuter openings available this weekend.

Monica Turrentine, a member of the Finney County Humane Society board, said the response from the public filled the humane society's voice mailbox, and they received a large number of emails. Even the animal shelter received calls from people looking to have their pets fixed.

"I think they're more educated about the reasons why they need to get it done. I'm surprised it got as big as fast as it did. I took the post off of Facebook the next day just to help with the calls," she said.

Due to the demand, the clinic will be coming back in January and possibly more frequently due to the obvious need.

Finney County Humane Society sponsored the mobile outreach clinic to bring a low-cost, mobile spay and neuter clinic to town Friday, today and Sunday. Though the spay and neuter slots are all filled, people can bring their pets to a walk-in vaccination clinic from 2 to 4 p.m. today and Sunday on the south side of the Garden City/Finney County Animal Shelter. A variety of vaccinations for both cats and dogs, as well as microchipping services, are available.

Pam Pierce, Spay Today practice manager, said that as of Thursday the waiting list in Garden City was approaching 150 animals.

"It has proven to be a service that people are actively seeking, which is fantastic," she said.

Based out of Longmont, Colo., Pierce and veterinarian Dr. Robert Foglia began partnering on the mobile outreach clinic this past May, but both have been involved in private veterinary practice for many years.

As part of the Longmont Humane Society, Pierce helped start an animal health care program that evolved into a low cost spay and neuter program and a wellness program. She and Foglia joined forces out of a desire to provide outreach in areas where people might not have adequate resources for veterinary care.

"Pam and I worked together at another clinic, and we both had a passion for it," Foglia said Friday. "The timing was right, so we decided to give it a shot."

Foglia said they started locally in Colorado, but there were many veterinarians in the Denver area, so they decided to expand their outreach program.

"The turnouts weren't that great in Colorado. There wasn't as much need for it there because there are a number of other groups doing similar things to what we do, in one way or another," he said. "We do 30 to 40 surgeries a day, and we weren't getting those numbers there, so we expanded our territory."

They got in contact with people in Liberal and Garden City, and now, Foglia said, there's such a call for the service that they are almost too busy.

"We're booked, and there's people on the waiting list for us to come back," he said.

Foglia said logistics for a return trip are being worked out. He hopes to spend more time out here the next time they come.

"This is our first weekend ever in Garden City, and we didn't know what it was going to be like, so we scheduled a three-day weekend. Obviously, that wasn't long enough," Foglia said with a chuckle. "Next time, we'll be here a little longer, I think."

Friday, Foglia, Pierce, Kim Ott, a veterinary assistant from Colorado, and Katrina Frost, a veterinary technician from Norton, performed surgery on 31 cats and dogs for people who signed up, and a few alterations on shelter animals.

Surgeries are performed in a custom built trailer. Animals are pre-sedated inside the shelter, brought into the trailer where the assistant and technician prepare them for surgery and provide anesthesia before the operation begins. Following surgery, the team makes sure animals completely recover before moving them back inside the shelter, where they do additional recovery before being picked up at the end of the day by owners.

Pierce said the response to the clinic's first visit here drives home the point that people aren't ignoring the need for medical care for their pets, the issue is some people are "economically challenged." Pierce said one of the goals of the clinic is to create a kind of stepping stone for people to transition into more comprehensive and ongoing care for their pets with a local veterinarian.

"We hope to feed them into local veterinary care that they understand and can get the basics done. They need to establish that relationship, and that's kind of the big goal," she said.

The mobile outreach clinic is on the road three weeks at a time, every other month.

By performing procedures in volume, the outreach clinic is able to charge a lower rate than typically charged for spaying or neutering. Pets are dropped off the morning of surgery and picked late in the afternoon.

Pierce commended the Finney County Humane Society and their board of directors for being the driving force behind bringing the clinic to Garden City, and working with the city/county animal shelter. That cooperation is not common, she said.

"This is a great community to come to where your municipal facility is working with your humane society. They seem to all be on the same page with our mission, and they've been fantastic since we got here," Pierce said.

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