AnimalKind's mission is to end the unnecessary euthanasia of adoptable cats and dogs in North Carolina shelters.
Last week, one of our volunteers from UNC interviewed Dr. Laureen Bartfield, who has been working as a vet for 16 years and currently works for the Spay-Neuter Assistance Program of North Carolina (SNAP-NC). SNAP-NC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing low-cost spay-neuter services across North Carolina. SNAP-NC’s goal is to reduce pet overpopulation, which often results in the unnecessary euthanasia of cats and dogs. In North Carolina alone, a quarter of a million animals are euthanized in shelters because there are not enough homes for these animals. Dr. Bartfield said that getting pets spayed or neutered is the best solution to this sad reality.
SNAP-NC is unique in that it is a mobile veterinary clinic, which travels to serve 12 different counties across the state. The mobile clinic serves an average of 30 animals a day. The animals are dropped off at the location at 8:30 in the morning, and picked up that afternoon around 4:00. Each team consists of one doctor and two technicians. These clinics have state-of-the-art mobile surgical facilities, each containing two surgical tables and two anesthesia machines (featured below).
“It is very hectic and fast paced, but also very fun and exciting. Most of all it is extremely rewarding,” Dr. Bartfield said of working in the mobile clinic. “It is so rewarding to know that if it wasn’t for a service like ours these animals would probably not get spayed or neutered.”
Dr. Bartfield explained, that spay/neuters are considered major surgery for cats and dogs, especially because the animals must undergo anesthesia. This explains why the procedure can be very expensive. For females, the surgery requires a full hysterectomy, which is a more extensive surgery than what is required for males. Recovery for the animals is very important. For the first several days it is important that the animal get a lot of rest. All the animals receive pain medications, so there is no reason a pet should be in any kind of pain. The recovery times vary for animals depending on gender: for female cats and dogs, it is about seven to 10 days; for a male dog it is about five to seven days; for a male cat it is only about 24-48 hours. Because this surgery is so costly, many families with pets cannot afford it and this leads to animal overpopulation. This is why affordable services like SNAP are so important to the community.
“For the pets, getting spayed or neutered really improves quality of life and ensures healthier lives overall,” Dr. Bartfield explained. “Dogs and cats will be less likely to get certain types of cancer, and they will live an average of two to three years longer. Pets are also less likely to run away or get in fights.”
Since the beginning of 2015, one of the mobile clinics has already serviced 483 pets and their owners. SNAP-NC is on track to reach a phenomenal achievement of having provided 100,000 surgeries by the second or third week of March 2015.
AnimalKind Volunteer, Mary Stanton Coltrane