Spay/neuter saves lives

When Christine Stransky, spay and neuter program chair of the Wharton County Stray Pet Outreach Team (SPOT) in Wharton County, Texas, answered a call about a blind senior woman living in a trailer with over a dozen dogs in her charge, it shed light on the community’s biggest challenge for animals. The call indicated that some time ago, two female and two male dogs had been abandoned at the resident’s door. Though she cared for the dogs, the woman didn’t have the resources to get them spayed or neutered. By the time Christine got word about the situation, the dogs had had a few litters.

Similar scenarios were happening throughout the community, and that’s why SPOT knew they had to take action. Christine says, “We’re going to have to do something to make spay and neuter available to the public who needs it. We don’t want people dumping their pets on elderly, blind ladies on fixed incomes.”

Spay and neuter solutions

Spay-Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP) loading animalsWith 20 percent of residents living below the poverty level, there are approximately 3,500 owned, unaltered cats and dogs in Wharton County. “We have no animal control in our county, so we help out with rescue, but the real need is helping get the animals spayed and neutered,” says Christine. “We have used a two-prong method to get the animals fixed: one is a spay/neuter voucher program utilizing private veterinarians and the other is with a mobile spay/neuter clinic.”

Best Friends, in partnership with PetSmart Charities, gave Wharton County SPOT a Lifesaving Grant of $10,000 to help get more pets spayed or neutered via the mobile clinics. The services are offered for free to the people who need them. The mobile clinics are state-of-the-art vehicles supplied by Spay-Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP) of Houston and go to Wharton County monthly.

“We are thrilled to have this grant,” says Christine. “So far, we’ve spayed and neutered dozens of owned animals.” They’ve been using many methods to spread the word: going door to door, Facebook, putting up flyers in government agencies targeting people in need, presentations to youth, and traditional PR methods, including ads in the newspaper. They also keep a lengthy waiting list for folks who either miss an appointment or for when the mobile clinic is booked. Wharton County SPOT keeps in close communication with the folks on the waiting list to ensure they get all their pets in for surgery as soon as possible.

Precious procedures

Muffy's life was savedIn addition to preventing more pets from being born, their program saves lives, too. Muffy, a Pomeranian, was brought in by her person Lisa to be spayed. Lisa couldn’t afford to have Muffy spayed on her own and seized the opportunity to get her fixed for free at the mobile clinic. During the surgery, the veterinarian saw that — unbeknownst to Lisa — Muffy had a life-threatening uterine infection. The little Pomeranian might have died if she hadn’t been spayed when she was.

Wharton County SPOT was happy to have saved a life. “In addition to our demographic of helping people in need, we also want to make sure we’re helping to spay and neuter the dogs most at risk in the shelter system: pit bull terriers and black Lab mixes,” says Christine. “So far we’ve gotten almost 60 of them spayed or neutered, and thanks to the Best Friends grant we’re going to help dozens and dozens more.”

Get involved

Learn more about how Best Friends helps shelters and rescue groups across the country.

Photos courtesy of Wharton County Stray Pet Outreach Team