CLOVERDALE -- Since S.P.O.T (Stop Pet Overpopulation Today) opened a year ago, they have performed 2,597 surgeries. These were performed on dogs, cats and a couple of rabbits. Those surgeries mean that thousands of unwanted animals will not be born. "People don't realize that one female dog and one litter can produce 67,000 dogs in six years or that a female cat and her litter create 467,000 cats in seven years. Next year we hope to do 4,000 surgeries," said Shannon Crigger, registered veterinary technician at S.P.O.T.
The clinic currently averages about 15 surgeries per day. In addition to performing surgeries on owned animals, S.P.O.T. also alters animals for several local shelters and rescues.
There are currently 8 million dogs, cats, puppies and kittens euthanized in the United States every year simply because there aren't enough homes for all of them.
"The numbers are staggering -- in 2007 Indy Care and Control took in 19,000 stray or dropped off animals. Over 12,000 were euthanized. That can happen here. Neither Owen nor Putnam County euthanize animals," said Crigger. S.P.O.T Veterinarian Nancy Ferguson and Crigger believe that besides preventing more unwanted puppies and kittens, spaying and neutering your dog or cat prevents diseases and behavioral problems.
"The risk of mammary cancer is greatly reduced if you spay your dog before age one. Also, cancers of the reproductive organs are eliminated," said Crigger. "If you postpone this surgery until later in life, it doesn't provide this benefit. Early spaying also helps prevent the development of several reproductive tract diseases."
There are other benefits as well. Behavioral problems such as aggressiveness toward same sex dogs, marking or spraying in the house and roaming to find a mate are also eliminated or reduced.
As male dogs roam in search of females in heat, they are vulnerable to being hit by a car or attacked by other dogs, explained Crigger.
"Even people with strong backyard fences or those who keep a male cat indoors cannot stop their urge to roam. That urge can turn an intact (not neutered) male into an escape artist. Cats can slip out the door or window. Dogs can climb fences and take advantage of unsecured gates," she said.
"And, if you allow an intact male cat outside, it often has violent fights with other males. Wounds from these fights can be serious and require veterinary treatment. Neutering and spaying your household pets is a sound investment in their health and companionship. You are also doing your part to help control the pet population," said Crigger.
S.P.O.T. is a non-profit spay neuter clinic offering high quality, low cost sterilization. The cost to sterilize a dog (male or female) is $55. Female cats cost $40 and male cats are $35. Feral cat sterilization costs $40 and includes rabies and ear tip. Vaccinations are $10 each. They hold a vaccination clinic every Monday from 1-7 p.m. Surgeries are by appointment only.
"The main reasons people don't spay and neuter are lack of accessibility and affordability," Crigger said. "By staying focused on one thing, we're able to keep our costs overhead down so we don't have to charge as much for surgery. We hope we can eventually lower our prices even more."
The Putnam County Humane Shelter has been given some grant money through the county's forfeiture fund--there are some financial requirements--but it can assist with the cost of surgery.
"People can call S.P.O.T. for information on how to get extra funds if finances are an issue," said Crigger.
Crigger recommends rescuing a dog or adopting one from the shelter as the safest way to add another pet to the family.
"Rather than buying a dog, go to a shelter. There are a lot of puppy mills around where dogs inbreed numerous times. Buying from them keeps that business going," said Crigger.
"We thank all the many volunteers who help with S.P.O.T. as well as all the different groups we work with and the public in general. It's all of them who have made this last year so successful for us," added Crigger. S.P.O.T. is located in Cloverdale at the intersection of S.R. 231 and S.R. 42. They can be reached at (765) 795-4336.