BRADENTON — Families struggling to pay veterinary bills now have a low-cost option to have their pets spayed or neutered.
Manatee County Humane Society opened its new assembly line, low-cost spay and neuter clinic this week with the goal of neutering up to 35 cats and dogs a day.
The clinic will charge the public between $35 and $50 for the spaying or neutering of cats and $55 to $65 for dogs. That’s less than half the cost for similar procedures at private veterinary clinics.
It’s at 2515 14th St. W.
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Veternarian Emily Murphy and her team will also provide neutering services to more than a dozen local animal rescue groups to help decrease the county’s soaring feral dog and cat populations.
Murphy, medical director, heads the surgery team that has been training with Whitney Eure of the Humane Alliance of Western North Carolina’s National Spay/Neuter Response Team. The alliance trains organizations across the nation to provide targeted high-quality, high-volume sterilization services as the non-lethal solution to pet overpopulation.
PetSmart Charities helped underwrite the creation of the local clinic with a $43,000 grant.
On Wednesday, Murphy, formerly of Palma Sola Animal Clinic, spayed and neutered five dogs and five feral cats. One of her last patients was a young black and white feral cat who had already birthed a litter of kittens even though she was barely a year old.
“Kittens can become pregnant at four months old,” said Karissa Mayer, a certified veterinary technician and director of the spay/neuter clinic. “Because of Florida’s warm climate, feral cats can produce up to four litters in a year. Then at four months, those female kittens can start producing litters of their own,”
“It’s all about the numbers,” said Murphy, who originally trained as registered nurse specializing in cardiac care before going to veterinary school. “We want to prevent the unnecessary euthanasia of dogs and cats.”
Although she enjoyed private practice, Murphy says she has found her calling in shelter work.
“I had the classic vet childhood,” Murphy said, as she stitched closed the black and white cat’s incision. “I was always saving birds with broken wings or taking in injured animals.”
During the entire procedure, Eure monitored the cat’s heartbeat and oxygen rate, measured by the same clothes-pin type monitor physicians use on human patients. Another monitor tracked the anesthesia the cat was receiving.
In the recovery room, Mayer and other members of the medical team supervised post-op patients nestled in towels and warmed with socks of rice that had been heated in the microwave and then placed around their bodies to stave off the shivers caused by the anesthesia.
Eure, who helped open more than 54 high-volume, low-cost clinics nationwide, said teamwork is the secret to smooth operations.
Once the clinic is going at full speed. Manatee County is going to see a marked decrease in its unwanted pet population, said Mayer.
“It’s going to make a huge difference,” Mayer said.
Denise Deisler, the Humane Society’s executive director, was ecstatic Thursday as she prepared the new reception area for an open house to show off the new clinic.
“We’ve come such a long way in such a short time,” Deisler said.
“It’s been lots of hard work and a lot of sweat, but we’re done and everybody is very glad we’re now open.”
Appointments are now being taken by clinic staff. Call (941) 747-8808, ext 302, or visit www.humanesocietymanatee.org for more information.