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Since January, a low-cost neutering and neutering clinic that operates in Roswell for a week at a time has performed surgeries on more than 400 animals and does not expect to slow down.
Lisa Petri, president of the nonprofit Colorado Animal Welfare League, and Dr. Emily Hays, veterinarian, said they received a good reception for the clinic, located at 710 E. College Boulevard. They wrapped up their fourth week in Roswell on Friday.
“I think it’s going well so far. I think everyone was pretty happy. We haven’t had too many complaints,” Petri said.
Liz Ashby, a local volunteer who helped coordinate the opening of the clinic and assists the clinic, showed a notepad with a 10-page waiting list for appointments.
“I usually add about five to 10 a day,” Ashby said.
Even with the number of animals they’ve already seen, Petri and Hays said based on their previous experience, it will take about three to four years before most people notice a difference in animal numbers. wild animals in Roswell.
“I hate to say it, but that’s what it was like in Alamosa,” Petri said of the Colorado town where they worked. “I think they started saying they saw a difference in three or four years.”
Hays agreed, but said they were probably already having some effect.
“If we talk about the impact we’ve had just this kitten season, we’ve probably had a huge impact. But no one will really see it. Rescues probably won’t have as many kittens found and brought in, but it’s hard to know that the first six months,” she said.
“We say it over and over: neutering and neutering is a marathon, not a sprint,” Petri said.
“We are committed to it. We’ll be here for a while. You are stuck with us,” Petri said.
Petri and Hays said that in the eight years they worked together, they performed surgeries on more than 13,500 animals.
Hays was licensed as a veterinarian in New Mexico just for the Roswell clinic, adding to the four other states in which she is licensed to practice.
During the five days that they are here, they see about 30 to 35 animals a day divided equally between dogs and cats. Check-ins are done in the morning and the animals are ready for pick-up by 5 p.m., Petri said.
The clinic is not luxurious, but has a reception area, a large animal holding area, a surgical preparation room and an operating room.
“It’s like a real vet clinic, except for a budget,” Petri said.
In the waiting area, animals awaiting their procedure are kept in cages. Each receives approximately 20 to 30 minutes of prep time during which they are shaved, given painkillers, anesthetized and intubated for surgery. Documents completed during check-in accompany each animal throughout the procedure. If animals need rabies vaccines, these are given.
In the operating room, prepared packets of disinfected tools are wrapped in towels for each operation.
“Suture, gloves, everything is ready to go,” Petri said.
Animals are taken to the holding area for retrieval. Large dogs rest on blankets on the floor and small dogs and cats rest on a heating pad on a table. As the anesthesia wears off, they are put back into crates until they are picked up to go home.
Throughout the day, the three women are assisted by volunteers Shana Emmert, Pam Emmert and Susan VanderHyden.
The waiting area also has a laundry room, instrument sanitizer and vaccine refrigerator. Once the surgeries are done for the day in the late afternoon, the women clean up and get ready for the next day.
They try to make sure that some of the cats they spay or neuter are feral. Some were brought in, but they also started trapping some in town with permission from the owners or managers, Petri said.
“We try to do 10 savages a day,” Hays said.
“Usually what we do is when it gets dark, we set traps and we collect them the next morning,” Petri said.
A local restaurant and farm supply store are among the businesses that agreed to allow the feral cats to be trapped and released after the operation, she said.
The clinic is funded by a grant from Virginia-based Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, which provided funds for the construction of the clinic in the building as well as one year’s rent.
The procedures cost $50 for cats and $75 for dogs, though Petri and Ashby said they can negotiate a lower price for those with multiple pets. A woman this week brought in 14 cats, Hays said.
They have also visited some of the vets in town to help ensure their intention is not to take their business away.
For the most part, their clients are people who can’t afford the procedure for their pets at a full clinic, especially if they have more than one, Hays said.
Ashby said a spay at Roswell can cost around $150 for a cat, while for a dog it can cost upwards of $200.
“They usually want to do a lot of lab work, which we don’t do here. So if your dog is in trouble, your cat is in trouble, you need to go see your regular vet,” Ashby said.
“We want people to have a relationship with a vet,” Petri said.
“We try to make it a one-stop shop here, but then you go back to your regular vet,” she said.
CAWL’s goal is to operate the clinic the first week of every month, Monday through Friday. They hope to work with other organizations to enable them to operate their own clinics at low cost for other weeks as well.
For more information or to make an appointment, call 575-626-0506.
Juno Ogle, City Reporter/RISD, can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or [email protected]