Sutter County Animal Shelter teams with veterinary school
A new arrangement between the Sutter County Animal Shelter and UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine soon will help make dozens of homeless animals more adoptable by sending them to the campus for minor surgery.
The program involves third-year veterinary students at the Gourley Clinical Teaching Center. They will spay or neuter some of the shelter's dogs and cats under faculty supervision.
The service, a regular part of veterinary training, will be performed at no charge to Sutter County or Sutter Animal Services Authority.
"The program works with different shelters in the region, and this year they've added us into that mix," said Danelle Stylos, community services director for the county, and head of an animal services task force that reports to the authority.
This winter, while construction continues on the regional shelter on Garden Highway in Yuba City, up to a dozen dogs and cats at a time will be transported by veterinary school workers from the animal shelter on Second Street to the UC Davis teaching facility.
There, they will undergo presurgery examinations and testing, and spay/neuter surgery. They also will receive rabies vaccinations and be implanted with an identification microchip.
"It's quite involved," Stylos said of the lessons for vet students and procedures on the animals. The work takes three days to complete. Once the process is finished, the animals are returned to the Sutter County shelter.
Darlene Riel, who manages the teaching facility, said a hospital-like unit conducts as many as 500 spay/neuter surgeries each year on animals from area shelters. The Gourley Center serves 10 animal care and control agencies from Oakland to Colusa County.
A second unit at the center caters to fourth-year vet students. Surgery rooms are equipped for more complex operations, and students handle roughly 1,200 cases each year.
"We provide awesome services," Riel said. "We help cut down on the number of animals out on the streets, and our students benefit as well."
The new arrangement with UC Davis falls short of having an actual spay/neuter program for Sutter County's animals, Stylos said, but it helps fills a gap.
Ideally, all animals adopted out to new homes from the shelter should already be spayed or neutered, she said, to avoid contributing to an already untenable over-population of dogs and cats.
But funding levels do not allow for this.
The costs are ultimately felt down the road, animal services officials argue, when accidental or irresponsible breeding creates a greater number of animals to care for at the shelter.
The Sutter County shelter offers a rebate for people who adopt animals and get them spayed or neutered right away.
Stylos said she hopes a growing relationship with the UC Davis veterinary school will help lead to responsible spay/neuter policies here at home.
At least with those animals getting free spay/neuter surgery prior to adoption, she said, "we're not promoting irresponsible behavior."
CONTACT Nancy Pasternack at email@example.com or 749-4781. Find her on Facebook at /ADnpasternack or on Twitter at @ADnpasternack.