by Joan Allison | photos by Greg Campbell
(In the photo above, vet technicians move a sedated female dog to the surgical suite to be spayed. The staff puts socks on the all the animal clients’ paws to keep them warm while they’re in surgery. These touches are all part of the high-level of care delivered by the specially trained staff and veterinarian of Mid-South Spay and Neuter Services.)
“In the U.S., there are an estimated 6-8 million homeless animals entering animal shelters every year. Barely half of these animals are adopted,” reports the Humane Society of the United States (humanesociety.org). “Tragically, more than 2.7 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters annually. These are healthy, sweet pets who would have made great companions.”
So your own pet is not homeless? Why should you neuter your own pet? The chances may be slim that your pet could escape your home, but if they do, intact animals have a way of finding each other. Where will those puppies or kittens that are produced – or your ‘grand’ puppies – end up? Probably in an animal shelter as one of the many homeless pets in our community competing for a home. Will yours be one of the lucky ones? Probably not. Euthanasia rates at Memphis Animal Services for 2016, while lower than years past, were still about 35%.
Nationwide, the number of homeless pets is staggering, and so unnecessary, especially when there is such a simple, affordable solution: spay and neuter. Fortunately for the Mid-South, there is a low-cost spay/neuter clinic in Memphis. Since 2005, Mid-South Spay and Neuter Services (MSNS) has offered affordable spay and neuter surgeries to the region’s pets – about 42,000 procedures and counting. In addition, the clinic offers age-appropriate pet vaccinations and micro-chipping (both done at time of surgery).
MSNS helps remove the financial burden of spay/neuter by securing individual donor and grant funding. This helps clients who need additional financial assistance beyond the clinic’s already discounted prices, affording all pet owners the only permanent, 100% effective method of birth control for their animals.
MSNS Executive Director Brittany Pace said that the cost of having your pet spayed or neutered at MSNS is $80 – $130, which includes an e-collar and post-operative pain medicine. The average cost of the same service at a traditional vet is about $300- $400. Some clients will be able to qualify for financial assistance through the MSNS low-income grant program. The cost for these services under the grant program is only $20.
Supervisory Vet Dr. Syron Oleson can neuter a male cat in one minute and a female dog in 15 minutes thanks to special training she received from the ASPCA’s Humane Alliance of North Carolina, a leading training and education organization focusing on high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter.
Pace said that the clinic vet performs about 30-35 spay/ neuter surgeries per day (including the occasional pig or rabbit). Dr. Syron Oleson has been the supervisory vet since August of 2015 and can neuter a male cat in one minute and a female dog in 15 minutes! But she is no sub-par surgeon. In addition to her veterinary degree (DVM), Dr. Oleson has received special training from the ASPCA’s Humane Alliance of North Carolina, the nation’s leading training and education organization focusing on highquality, high-volume spay/ neuter.
“Our clinic has the same quality and standards as any other veterinary office,” Pace said. MSNS is staffed with a licensed vet and a fully trained staff. “We run on donations and grants, (and among other money-savers) we purchase supplies in bulk to reduce costs.”
Spaying and neutering has other health and social benefits for your pet. According to the MSNS website, spayed females are less likely to develop breast cancer and are no longer at risk for ovarian or uterine cancer. Neutered males are no longer at risk for testicular cancer. By neutering males, you also reduce the risk of injury and disease, since intact males have a natural instinct to roam and get into fights with other animals that may have contagious diseases or parasites. Neutered males (dogs or cats) may be less likely to spray or mark, and contrary to popular belief, fixed pets don’t automatically become lazy and overweight.
Feral cat rescuers get much-needed financial help too. For $35, the vet will spay or neuter the feral cat, ‘tip’ its ear, and administer a rabies vaccination. And because they can be difficult to humanely trap, the clinic accepts feral cat walkin clients Tuesday through Thursday, 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. For other pets, there is about a three to four week wait, except in case of emergency.
MSNS spays and neuters dogs, cats, feral cats, and bunnies.
WAYS TO HELP
MSNS needs weekday volunteers for a variety of tasks like sterilizing equipment, doing laundry, assisting with morning check in or afternoon check out, recovering animals after surgery, etc. Volunteers can help for one hour, or all day. Orientation is required. Prefer to help on weekends? MSNS needs volunteers for events and fundraising, pet festivals, envelope stuffing, party planning, to name a few. Go online to spaymemphis.org to sign up or get more detailed information.
The clinic also accepts donations of supplies Tuesday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The clinic especially needs cleaning and sanitizing products like bleach and rubbing alcohol, canned pet food, office supplies, postage stamps, newspaper, laundry detergent, or gift cards to stores that carry these items. Explore all the ways that you can give at spaymemphis.org/ donate/other-ways-to-give/
Mid-South Spay and Neuter Services
854 Goodman Street Memphis, TN 38111
Tuesday – Friday 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.