Free Spay and Neuter Clinic A Success

 By Amy Jeanroy

 

The staff and volunteers for the Community Spay and Neuter Clinic gather for a quick picture before returning for the second half of the day's appointments. (Photo by Amy Jeanroy).

“We have to keep up with this or we aren't going to make progress"

-Dr. Elizabeth Stone

 

According to the ASPCA, a cat can have three litters of kittens a year, with an average of 6 kittens each time. The United States alone has an estimated 70 million stray cats, and some reports say that the state of Maine has as many as 30,000 of them. Spaying and neutering pets may seem commonplace to some, but in rural areas, there is a cultural acceptance of not spaying or neutering cats, as well as allowing these cats access to the outdoors even part time. As a result Calais, like many rural cities and towns, has a feral cat problem.  Because of this, the animal welfare community has been making an effort to provide reduced or free spay and neuter clinics in various locations around the state. 

For three days this past week, you may have seen higher than normal traffic at our local animal shelter; PAWS Brave Hearts, on South Street. The trailer, parked outside for weeks,was the hub of activity for the third free spay and neuter clinic in Calais.  This collaborative effort between four animal welfare organizations, The Community Spay and Neuter Clinic, the Animal Welfare Program, The Cleo Fund, and Paws Brave Hearts, made it happen. 

The organizations, Community Spay and Neuter Clinic,  started 6 yrs ago by Dr. Elizabeth Stone. The organization is part of the Humane Alliance, which is part of the ASPCA. Within a trailer, a mobile clinic that was donated by Waldo County, Dr. Stone and her two technicians Melissa and Julie, spayed over 90 cats in a three day period.      

This busy mobile clinic uses the term mobile loosely. "It's mobile but not 'that' mobile," says Dr. Stone, as she pauses just long enough for a quick photo. Not wanting to have her picture taken alone, she insisted on bringing every volunteer together for a group photo, saying that it was a group effort. 

This is the third time they have been to the area offering their clinic, where each time a single volunteer veterinarian and technicians spay, vaccinate, and even flea and tick medicine, to 90 - 100 cats during a 3 day period. The impact on feral cat populations is unclear, but for pet cats, and their owners, this service makes a huge difference in their quality of life. As for the feral cat numbers, until the culture changes regarding spaying and neutering cats, there will be little more than a dip in the number of feral cats says one volunteer. 

Free for those who qualify,  none of the money came from taxpayers. The funding comes from multiple places like the donation box you check on your tax return, or when you buy an "adopt" license plate. Even pet foods have a few cents of tax collected allocated toward animal welfare funding. If all goes well, the clinic will return again next year, and Dr. Stone with her volunteers, will be once again working tirelessly to provide much needed care to the area's cat population.