Low-cost spay, neutering|New clinic made for dogs, cats

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 20, 2008

Inexpensive spaying and neutering services are coming to central Mississippi, and it’s possible Vicksburg dogs and cats may catch a ride to a clinic in Pearl.

The Big Fix Clinic operated by Mississippi Spay and Neuter, which will open on Oct. 29, has been funded by a $400,000 grant from an anonymous animal-loving foundation in Jackson. The grant will kick in over five years, with $150,000 available the first year. The clinic has also received other private donations and gifts from public sources, such as the Human Society of the United States and Pet Smart Charities, which donated $35,000 for surgical equipment.

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The Big Fix Clinic, offering low-cost spaying and neutering for cats and dogs, will open Oct. 29, at 2104 Old Brandon Road in Pearl. To make an appointment or for more information, call 1-866-901-7729.

Because 70 to 90 percent of animals taken in by shelters are euthanized because no homes can be found for them, animal-care organizations and shelters are changing their emphasis to spaying and neutering.

“We just found that we couldn’t find enough homes for all of the animals,” Elaine Adair said. “It’s like a leaky faucet — you need to stop the flow, and the only way to do that is to spay and neuter.”

According to MSSPAN’s literature, hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats are euthanized each year in Mississippi and thousands more struggle to live on the street.

The Pearl clinic will offer spaying and neutering for cats for $25. For dogs the surgery will range up to $75, a sliding scale based on the animal’s sex and weight and the owner’s ability to pay. The procedure can be done in one day.

For Vicksburg residents who cannot get their pets to Pearl, Adair said MSSPAN hopes to organize a transport group.

“Spaying and neutering have always been part of the business of veterinary care, but it’s not been a focal point,” Adair said. “If they do two to three a day it does not cut down on the problem.”

While vets may charge $150 to $250 to perform the surgery, she added, MSSPAN can offer lower cost surgeries because of volunteer staff and veterinarians who work for a daily rate.

“Veterinarians definitely deserve what they charge, because it is a skilled profession,” Adair said. “But some people just won’t or can’t pay that, and they need help. That’s why we’re here.”

Adair and her husband, Harold, bought their home in Vicksburg about a year ago and moved in with their six cats and three dogs — all rescued animals — during the summer. After losing their Gulfport home to Hurricane Katrina they considered rebuilding, but had lost many neighbors and also found the cost of insurance skyrocketing.

“It was a hard choice,” Adair said, but the many changes in the neighborhood “felt like a death.” They considered moving to Madison or Brandon, and also looked seriously at Natchez, but in the end chose Vicksburg because they liked the size of the city, its history and its proximity to a major airport and a hospital.

Adair spent four years on active military duty and more than a decade with the International Guard. Her corporate experience included logistics work with Lockheed Aircraft’s Hurricane Hunters weather reconnaissance squadron, which initially brought her to Gulfport. A native of Pennsylvania, she also lived for a time in Colorado Springs, Colo., where her volunteer activities included working at a hotline, an important but difficult task, she said. In Gulfport, she changed her focus to animals and began working with the Humane Society of Southern Mississippi and eventually moved full-time to MSSPAN.

The clinic will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Appointments can be made by calling 1-866-901-7729.


Contact Pam Hitchins at phitchins@vicksburgpost.com.