Frequently Asked Questions
Most of your concerning questions are answered here. If you do not see your question listed, please feel free to contact us.
Q: What’s the big deal about spaying/neutering?
A: Pet overpopulation! Most people do not realize how serious this problem is. To say that there are too many pets and not enough homes doesn’t convey the magnitude of the problem. The leading cause of death in pets in the United States is not disease or illness or injury. It’s being killed in our nation’s pounds and shelters. Five million dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are killed just because there aren’t enough homes to go around. That’s about five percent of the entire pet population each year. So PLEASE, PLEASE…spay and neuter your pets!!! Encourage everyone you know to do the same. If your pets are spayed & neutered, consider “sponsoring a spay” for someone who cannot afford it.
Q: How can you charge so little?
A: Determination, Specialization & Efficiency! To say that the pet overpopulation problem is my pet peeve is a massive understatement! I’ve worked as a veterinarian for twenty years and have been in animal welfare since 1976. The homeless, abandoned, neglected animals I’ve seen have made me determined to do something about it. I’ve arranged my entire practice to keep overhead down. My clinic is adequate but not elaborate. We do not have have the equipment, staff, or facilities to handle complex medical cases. Thus our fixed costs are lower than in a full animal service hospital. Our non-profit spay/neuter clinic is subsidized by our vaccination and out patient clinic. I have special training, which allows us to keep costs down by performing more surgeries in less time. My staff also has special training, and their skills are fully utilized to help keep costs down, while sterilizing as many animals as possible, as quickly as possible. Volume – we don’t make much on each procedure, but we do a lot of them. We also receive donations and do fundraising.
Q: Does the quality of care suffer?
A: Absolutely not. We use the best anesthetics, mostly isoflurane. We use the best monitoring equipment during anesthesia, constantly measuring heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood oxygen levels. A technician is monitoring each patient during anesthesia. Because we have done over 56,000 procedures, our staff is among the most experienced anywhere. Our complication rate is significantly less that the average.
Q: Do you require lots of blood tests and vaccinations before you do surgery, so that it ends up costing $100 or $200?
A: We strongly recommend that all pets are well vaccinated, wormed, and tested for heartworms or leukemia before surgery. This is for their own well being and protection while in the clinic. Owners of older pets may want to consider blood work before anesthesia to check the overall health status. But the only thing we actually require is a current rabies vaccination and, for patients over 5 years of age, a negative heartworm test. We do not believe that any pet should go without being spayed or neutered if its owner is unable or unwilling to pay a substantial veterinarian bill.
Q: How long do they have to stay in the hospital?
A: Just for the day, they do not have to stay overnight. Anesthetics are much better than they used to be, and pets are awake and stable by the afternoon of the surgery. They are much less stressed at home than they would be in a hospital overnight surrounded by strange animals and sounds. They will get more attention at home than they would when we all go home for the evening. It also is one way that we keep costs down, by avoiding the expenses associated with overnight care.
Q: What do you do besides spaying and neutering? What don’t you do?
A: We see patients for anything that can be handled on an outpatient basis, such as routine testing, vaccinations, worming, minor illnesses or injuries. If a patient requires hospitalization, intensive care, extensive diagnostic procedures, or complex surgery, we may refer you to a larger hospital that has the equipment, facilities, and staff to give these cases the attention and care they deserve. Specializing in this way is part of what allows us to keep our overhead cost down and our prices low.
Q: At what age do you recommend spaying/neutering?
A: As soon as possible. We schedule our patients to be spayed or neutered at the time of their last puppy or kitten vaccinations (3 – 4 months). We routinely spay and neuter orphans for humane societies and rescue groups as early as six weeks of age. The younger the patient, the less anesthesia required, the faster the procedure, fewer complications, and a short recovery period.
Q: Shouldn’t my pet have one heat/litter first?
A: No – absolutely not! This is the most harmful old wives tales I have ever heard. Spaying a female before her first heat cuts her chance of breast cancer by over 96%. Breast cancer is very common in older females. Allowing her to have “just one litter” only increases her chance of medical problems, adds to the horrendous overpopulation problem, and causes both her and you a lot of aggravation and expense.
Q: My vet/sister/whoever says you can’t spay/neuter pets that young, is this true?
A: Ten years ago, that was a common belief. In fact, that’s what I was taught in veterinarian college. Numerous studies have proven that our initial concerns about possible ill effects are unfounded. In fact, no one seems to know what the old “six month standard” was based on. It is now well documented that these procedures are safe, with no detrimental effects either short/long term. In fact, complication rates are actually lower at seven weeks than at seven months. Standards are rapidly changing, with four months becoming the norm, and the law in some areas.
Q: Question above: That’s not what my vet says.
A: It is not humanly possible for any veterinarian to keep up with all the new research and studies, in all areas, for all species. I assure you, I could not carry on an intelligent conversation about recent advances in equine medicine or cancer chemotherapy. We all tend to keep up with our particular area of interest. This is my area, the research has been done and the facts are in. Pediatric spay/neuter is now covered in standard veterinarian textbooks and many veterinary college curriculums. It is the state of the art. Please note that spaying and neutering young puppies and kittens is different that performing these procedures on other animals. It does require some special training and adjustments to the techniques normally used. If your vet is interested, I am happy to consult with him/her and/or provide research data.
Q: Will neutering them so young stunt their growth or change personalities?
A: No. A medium sized dog will actually get 1/32nd of an inch taller. The only change in their personality is that they may act young a little longer. They are no more likely to get fat or have health problems if neutered at seven weeks that at seven months.
Q: I’d like to have my pet spayed/neutered. I am worried about the anesthesia. Is there a risk?
A: There is always some risk involved with general anesthesia for animals as well as humans. Our loss rate is less that one tenth of one percent. The important thing to realize is that the risk of not spaying/neutering is much higher. To loose a pet during a spay/neuter is rare, especially healthy pets. Un-spayed/un-neutered pets are commonly die from cancer or infections of the reproductive tract. Pets have their own sexually transmitted diseases, some fatal. Many males are killed or injured roaming to look for females or fight over them. And, dogs and cats can die from complications of giving birth. The risk of not spaying or neutering is far, far greater than the risk of loosing one during the procedure.