A pair of organizations are teaming up to help control the pet population in Indiana.
The Indiana Spay/Neuter Alliance (ISNA) and PetsAlive Spay Neuter Clinic, Bloomington, recently began a transport service for those unable to take their pets to a veterinarian to be spayed or neutered.
"This is a way of providing a low-cost alternative for Indiana residents and also to promote spay/neuter services," ISNA Administrator Emily Reynolds said.
Reynolds and PetsAlive Spay Neuter Clinic General Manager Melissa Kusturin spoke with Brazil Mayor Ann Bradshaw, Common Council of the City of Brazil member Pat Heffner and Clay County Animal Rescue Co-Owner and Director Chrystll Owens Wednesday, at City Hall, about the transport service.
"Right now, we are providing sign-up, coordination and transport services in 18 counties," Kusturin said. "We are able to do about three transports per day and with two full-time vets on staff, they are able to perform about 70 surgeries a day."
PetsAlive has its own spy/neuter surgery fees of $55 for all dogs, $50 for female cats and $30 for male cats, but offers a special deal for those utilizing the transport service.
"Because of the high volume of surgeries we are able to do at one time, we take $5 off the cost of the surgery if the transport service is used," Kusturin said. "We realize that it is a tough time economically for everyone and some people may not have the means to be able to take their pet to get spayed or neutered. However, if the rabies vaccination for the pet is not current, we also have to give them the shot, which is an additional $10."
Reynolds acknowledged that concerns have been raised about the clinic's ability to perform the surgeries at such a low cost.
"There have been insinuations that it is a 'chop shop,' which is completely not true," she said. "It does cost about $100 per surgery when you account for the equipment, vet and staff costs, but part of the reason we are able to do it for so cheap is that we can perform surgeries in a large volume."
Kusturin added, "We are non-profit organizations, but a lot of the costs are subsidized through grants and donations."
Both Reynolds and Kusturin said vouchers through the Spay Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP) are also accepted as part of their service. SNAP is a program through the Spay Neuter Services of Indiana, Inc., in which low-income families may apply for a voucher which allows a pet to be spayed or neutered for $20.
"We do accept SNAP vouchers, and applicants do not necessarily have to fall within the income parameters because special considerations are taken for students and the elderly," Reynolds said.
She added the date to sign up for the spay/neuter clinic and date of the surgery are about a month apart to allow residents the ability to apply for SNAP.
"We have one day to distribute applications and information, along with SNAP applications," Reynolds said. "Then we will meet again about a month later to pick up the animals for the clinic."
Payment is due at the time of signup to secure an appointment, and Kusturin said only cash or money orders will be accepted.
"Our next signup date is from noon-2 p.m., Saturday, in the parking lot of Page's Food Store," Reynolds said. "The transport for the surgeries will then take place at 8 a.m., Thursday, March 18, at the same location."
Reynolds added the pets will be taken to the clinic in Bloomington for the surgeries to be performed, and all animals will be held overnight for observation before being returned to their owners at about 11 a.m., the following day.
"There are so many areas that are more rural and people are sometimes unable to get out to spay or neuter their pets," she said. "Page's has been very gracious in letting us use their parking lot."
Both Owens and Bradshaw agreed the transport service should be beneficial not only in controlling the animal population, but to the residents as well.
"Everyone knows where Page's is and it is very accessible, especially for those living in town," Owens, who has the animal control contract for the City of Brazil, said. "There are a lot of older people and unemployed individuals who can't afford the full cost to spay or neuter an animal, so this program will be very beneficial."
Bradshaw added, "It always seems to make things better for people when they have a pet and this service makes things even better."
Kusturin and Reynolds were also appreciative of being able to meet with city officials in a more relaxed setting.
"Many times we are only able to meet in open council meetings," Reynolds said. "It allows us the time to go more in-depth about our service."
For more information about the ISNA Community Outreach Program, or to sign up a spay/neuter clinic, call 1-866-957-7729.