‘Ridiculous' cost for spay/neuter in Yuba-Sutter
More local veterinarians will have to pitch in and help in order to combat persistent problems with stray and abandoned pets and feral cat colonies.
That is the consensus among animal welfare advocates and rescue groups.
Spay/neuter surgery prevents unwanted litters of animals and can also improve a pet's disposition and health prospects.
But it is a hard sell to make in an area where low-cost spay/neuter options are scarce.
Reproductive surgery for a female dog can cost as much as $260 at a local veterinary clinic. In addition, presurgery examinations are often required, at additional cost.
"It's ridiculous what they're charging," said Yvonne Moore, president of Sutter Buttes Canine Rescue in Gridley.
"People cannot afford to go to a full-service vet here, especially with how our economy has been," said Norma Rubio, a veterinary technician at the Yuba-Sutter SPCA Spay-Neuter Clinic.
The SPCA clinic's prices are 20 percent to 40 percent cheaper than most local veterinarians. The facility on Sutter Street in Yuba City represents the area's primary resource for low-cost spay/neuter surgery.
But demand is high. About 400 animals are spayed or neutered at the clinic each month. As a result, pet owners and rescue groups must make appointments sometimes as long as five weeks in advance.
A new generation of animals can be conceived during that waiting period.
The average female cat goes into heat every two weeks. Fertility lasts four to seven days at a stretch beginning at five months of age.
Dogs are more likely to break out of yards and roam when they are unaltered and under ho monal stress.
For Moore, a long wait for spay/neuter surgery is prohibitive.
Eighty percent of dogs that wind up in her facility are intact when they come in, she said, and her organization will adopt them out only after they have been altered.
She makes frequent animal transport trips to Oroville or Auburn for out-of-town low-cost surgery when the SPCA clinic is overloaded.
The load would be lighter for all — especially the animals — if pet owners were discouraged from allowing their animals to breed, she said. More low-cost services would help.
"There's got to be something private vets can do to help," she said. "At least maybe let senior citizens and low-income people get their animals spayed or neutered at a lower cost."
Marysville Veterinary Hospital offers a 20 percent discount to treat animals brought to the clinic through local nonprofit animal rescue groups.
Veterinarian Troy Young tries to work the animals in for treatment on a low-cost basis.
"We do what we can," he said.
Young said the lack of a large surgical facility makes it difficult to hold big spay/neuter events.
Prior to moving to the area, he said, he did regular volunteer work with the Sacramento SPCA, which had a clinic as part of its main shelter facility.
Performing such work with community animals in his small clinic, he said, is not feasible.
With homeless animals, "there's an infectious disease risk," he said.
Chako, a Sacramento-based pitbull rescue group, offers vouchers for pitbull owners to get their dogs spayed or neutered by participating vet clinics at her organization's expense.
The system requires the vet to absorb much of the surgery's cost.
Dawn Capp, an attorney and dog trainer who founded Chako, said that currently, only one clinic has honored the voucher.
"If no one helps people spay and neuter these pets, it's a problem for the whole community," Capp said.
The biggest impediment to large-scale community spay/neuter efforts in Yuba-Sutter, according to Young, is a lack of communication.
Local participation in the North Valley Veterinary Medical Association, he said, "is very, very, very low."
"Everybody's in their own little bubble," he said. "I'm as guilty as the next guy."
The lack of a comprehensive network for animal rescue groups, veterinarians and others who have contact with the community's homeless animals, Moore said, keeps the problem in a constant state of proliferation.
"You can go into the Sutter County shelter and see the results. It's sad," she said. "They're so overpopulated."
Plenty of spay/neuter help in Sacramento
Dawn Capp, founder of Chako Pit Bull Rescue, recently went on a canine reconnaissance mission in the river bottoms with a local volunteer.
Before heading back to Sacramento, she rounded up some puppies living in a homeless camp and convinced their owner to allow a few adult dogs to be spayed and neutered.
The homeless pet owner boasted that one of her dogs had sired 15 litters, a claim that caused Capp to stop in her tracks.
"That dog was just going through the camps down there — an intact male — letting nature take its course," Capp said.
Like many local spay/neuter advocates, Capp is trying to take on animal population problems four legs at a time.
But she isn't operating alone.
The Sacramento SPCA helps raise funds, educate the public, and generate armies of animal-loving volunteers in addition to performing thousands of low-cost spay/neuter surgeries each year.
And a network called the Sacramento Area Animal Coalition provides a communications clearinghouse of animal welfare advocates and veterinarians who contribute time and help raise funds for numerous community animals-related causes.
Last February, the coalition's annual Spay Day event was responsible for altering 630 dogs and cats for low-income pet owners. They charged $15 per cat and $20 per dog.
Many animal advocates say that establishing such a collaboration here would be the first step to tackling the area's over-population of dogs and cats.
CONTACT Nancy Pasternack at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4781. Find her on Facebook at /ADnpasternack or on Twitter at @ADnpasternack.