A low-cost spay/neuter pilot project, started by the SPCA and an Agassiz veterinary clinic for Seabird Island Band that will help their community with a pet overpopulation problem, kicked off on Saturday (May 1).
A few months ago, Stephanie Thomas of Seabird Island Band approached Agassiz Animal Hospital and the Chilliwack branch of the SPCA asking if they could help bring affordable veterinary care to their band members.
Dr. Terri Pettis, owner/operator of Agassiz Animal Hospital, and Chilliwack SPCA branch manager Chloé MacBeth had been talking about starting a program like this for a while, so when Thomas came to them for help, they were happy to finally get started on it.
For years Thomas has had ongoing requests from her community for affordable veterinary care. She said the band members were “really happy” when they found out a the low-cost spay/neuter pilot project was going ahead.
“We had a lot of response and we’re trying to make sure everybody gets the help that they need,” Thomas said.
The program has been made possible thanks to an $8,000 grant the Chilliwack SPCA received and to Dr. Pettis who has volunteered her time. It’s a by-donation program where Seabird Island members pay a minimum of $50 to have their pet spayed/neutered, vaccinated and microchipped.
“We’re very grateful that we are able to subsidize it so we can make it accessible for people who really need it,” MacBeth said.
So far, 50 people have signed up and there’s even a waitlist.
On May 1, the first clinic was underway. Dr. Pettis performed 10 surgeries that day and will be doing about the same number of spay/neuters one day a month as part of the program.
A typical spay or neuter costs about $200 to $600 depending on the size, age and breed of animal, so this pilot program makes it much more affordable for pet owners.
“It’s incredible to be able to offer that,” MacBeth said. “It’s a joy to be able to work together and reach those common goals of making sure that basic veterinary care, such as spay/neuters is accessible to everyone.”
Additionally, spaying and neutering is healthier for the animals and less stressful for the people as well because there won’t be unwanted litters, she added.
“It’s a really nice partnership that has been created,” Thomas said.
With the funding the SPCA received, they will be able to spay/neuter about 100 animals.
The first clinic was like a well-oiled machine as Dr. Pettis and her team of three veterinary technicians and six assistants performed the 10 surgeries. She figures it’s the most spay/neuter operations she’s done in one day.
“It feels nice,” Dr. Pettis said during surgery number six. “It’ll be really nice in a year or so when we start seeing fewer litters.”
“We’re not going to meet the need right off the bat, but we’re trying to make waves… and work towards building strategies that will actually get us to where we need to be,” she said.