On the Fourth of July the Ardmore Animal Shelter took in more than 40 dogs. Some of these pets found their way back home, but others remain at the already full shelter.
Ardmore’s animal shelter often experiences an influx in pets during spring and summer and it’s not just because fireworks scare dogs away from their homes, but because typically that’s when dogs and cats have their litters.
Influx of pets can mean that time has expired for older animals who have been in the shelter for a prolonged period. But a new program in Ardmore hopes to change that.
The Ardmore Animal Shelter board members hatched a plan that they hope will combat this problem— building a spay and neuter clinic next to the shelter.
“We want to see the numbers of animals at the shelter decrease,” Animal Shelter board member DeLisa Taylor said. “Our goal is to not even have to exist. We want shelters and rescues to not have a reason to exist. We want everyone to be a responsible pet owner and get their pets spayed and neutered. ”
Construction of the clinic, which is two years in the making, recently broke ground and if everything goes according to plan, should be complete by September.
The clinic will primarily serve those who wish to have their pets spayed and neutered but can’t afford the costly vet bills. Currently, the shelter has a mobile low-cost spay and neuter clinic that they hold once a month, but board members said demand for the surgeries is so high that they often have to schedule them several months out.
“We’ve seen need,” Taylor said. “The spay and neuter mobile unit has been running for around 10 years and we just can’t do enough on those days. If you eliminate that one dog’s reproductive ability, you can keep (120) pets out of the shelter over six years.”
Animal Shelter board member Scott Sutherland said that since the mobile clinic has been in operation, the number of intakes at the animal shelter has decreased. In 2006, the shelter took in 7,933 pets. A stark contrast from the 4,852 pets that were brought in during 2016.
Much like the mobile unit, certified veterinarians will be working at the clinic to perform the surgeries, which also include vaccinations for the pet. But, Sutherland said they aren’t expecting the clinic to do stand alone vaccines often, they will simply be included in the cost of the spay or neuter. He also said that the clinic would try to keep the surgeries around the same price as the mobile clinic now— $45 to $55.
The board members both attested that similar clinics in the area, like the one in Durant, can’t keep up with the demand. The Ardmore facility hopes to help alleviate these clinics, and draw in more customers from areas like north Texas.
Hours of operation for the clinic are still being debated.
“It depends on the demand,” Sutherland said. “We would like to see it open two to three day a week with 30-40 surgeries a day.”
Both Sutherland and Taylor, said that the hard work isn’t done. The facility is being constructed through donated funds and as progress continues, problems could arise causing the cost to increase. Taylor said anyone who wants to donate to the cause can do so at the animal shelter.
“The need is definitely there, and it’s so important to spay and neuter your pets,” Sutherland said. “It prevents a lot of unwanted litters of kittens and puppies from having to go to the shelter.”