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Tiny vet clinic hits big milestone

A tiny vet clinic has hit a big milestone in its battle against pet overpopulation and animal homelessness.

The Spay/Neuter Your Pet clinic in Talent has fixed more than 2,000 cats and dogs in less than a year. The clinic devoted to spay and neuter surgeries opened in February.

“We broke our 2,000 mark so we’re very happy about that,” said Spay/Neuter Your Pet Director Sally Mackler.

More than 500 of those animals were feral cats, she said.

“That’s one of our main missions, because that’s a population that can’t bring itself in to be fixed,” Sackler said of cats that are homeless and unused to human contact.

The clinic works with caring community members to trap feral cats and bring them in for surgery. After their operations, the cats are confined indoors overnight — then released back to their home territory. They generally recover fine on their own.

“They know where to go and hole up and take care of themselves,” Mackler said.

The clinic loans out traps and offers guidance about how to safely capture homeless cats.

Left unfixed, a single cat can produce a litter when she’s only four months old. She’s essentially a teenage mother in human terms.

Mackler said homeless cats who become pregnant are under enormous strain to give birth, nurse and protect their kittens and eventually find food to feed them.

“Many of the kittens don’t survive. And our mission here really is to minimize suffering,” Mackler said. “The largest source of suffering in domesticated companion animals is overpopulation. It’s sad, but it’s totally preventable.”

Kittens that do survive contribute to the pet overpopulation problem when they get pregnant themselves. Feral cats rarely find homes since they’re not socialized to be comfortable with humans.

Mackler urged people who own pets to also get them fixed.

“You do not want that surprise litter. Finding homes is really hard. The shelters are full. It’s a serious problem that people need to become aware of. So the most important vet visit that you can ever, ever make is to get your animal neutered or spayed,” she said.

Mackler said although volunteers and vets are happy about reaching the 2,000 operations milestone, it will probably take years to make a dent in the local animal overpopulation problem.

Cats can get pregnant and give birth year-round, but local shelters are usually flooded with unwanted kittens in the spring. Compared to dogs, shelter cats are less likely to find homes because of their sheer numbers.

With its focus on spay and neuter surgeries, the clinic offers operations that cost less than at full-service vet clinics.

Spay/Neuter Your Pet had been working for two decades with local vet clinics to provide reduced cost surgeries, but the clinics eventually became too busy with their own clients’ animals to handle the volume of animals in need. The nonprofit group decided to open its own clinic focused on high volume, high quality operations.

The clinic has two part-time veterinarians who each work at the clinic two days per week. The clinic is open Tuesday through Friday. On any given day, a single vet may perform more than a dozen surgeries.

Mackler said the clinic doesn’t want to turn anyone away because they can’t afford the cost of fixing an animal.

The clinic is planning two fundraisers to support its programs.

The first is a “No-Party Fundraiser” that doesn’t require donors to attend an event. Supporters can buy a virtual seat or table by visiting donatenow.networkforgood.org/holidayfundraiser.

Proceeds benefit programs for low-income clients, feral cat surgeries and local shelters that rely on the clinic to fix large numbers of animals.

The other fundraiser is from 5 to 8 p.m. during Giving Tuesday on Dec. 3 at ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum, 1500 E. Main St., Ashland.

People who attend can visit with representatives of more than 20 local nonprofits and see how their donations will benefit the community.

The nonprofits include a range of arts organizations plus groups that help animals, abused and neglected children, the environment, libraries, history programs and more.

The Rogue Valley Messenger is organizing the giving event. For more information on the participating groups, visit roguevalleymessenger.com.

For more information about the Spay/Neuter Clinic, call 541-858-3325 or see spayneuter.org.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.

Sabrina Sandoval, vet tech, helps a cat{ } at the Spay/Neuter Your Pet clinic in Talent in this May file photo. Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune