April 13, 2004, was a lucky day for companion animals in Solano County.
The Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program at the School of Veterinary Medicine has partnered with the County of Solano General Services Animal Care Division to provide on-site spay-neuter services that will provide better customer service, save time for busy shelter personnel and reduce stress on animals.
The clinic facility is a recently remodeled suite in the existing shelter dedicated by civic leaders on April 13, 2004. Shelter personnel estimate that the clinic may alter about 100 animals per month. Staffed by Wes Jones, DVM, of the School of Veterinary Medicine, this clinic serves several important functions.
An on-site clinic, says Kate Hurley, DVM, director of the Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program, assures that spay-neuter procedures take place before clients adopt animals and take them home. "It's much safer in terms of addressing the overpopulation problem," Dr. Hurley explains.
For a shelter with a small staff, on-site facilities raise efficiency by reducing traffic between the shelter and participating veterinary offices that provided spay-neuter operations in the past.
On-site services also smooth the way for a successful adoption process because clients no longer have to wait for animals to undergo surgery before they can take their newly adopted pet home.
Less travel reduces stress on the animals, too. "The sooner we can get these good animals into good homes, the better for everyone, both for the animals and all the people involved," says Dr. Jones. "Studies indicate a 5% increased risk of disease for every day an animal stays in a shelter—that's the clock we are fighting against. Stress, crowding, lack of prior veterinary care and mandatory holding periods all contribute to more disease and reduced adoption for these animals." Fortunately, states Dr. Jones, "Once they are spayed or neutered, the animals can go to their new homes and start the rest of their lives."
Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program contracts with Solano County for veterinary services to its shelter, including the spay-neuter procedures and medical care.
Shelter medicine specialists also consult on veterinary behavior topics, including temperament evaluation and enrichment activities tailored to the shelter population.
The Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program strives to improve the quality of life of animals in shelters through veterinary preventive medicine and disease management. The program advances shelter medicine as a veterinary specialty by conducting research, specialty training and education, and veterinary services in animal shelters.
Dr. Jones concludes, "In achieving its goal of an on-site spay-neuter clinic, Solano's shelter takes another welcome step in the community toward improving educational resources, promoting responsible pet ownership, and strengthening the human-animal bond."