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Sunday, Feb 26, 2017
Health & Lifestyles

New Clinic Offers Low Cost Spay/Neuter Service

After three years, countless volunteer hours and dozens of fundraisers, Stop Pet Overpopulation Together (SPOT) opened its new spay/neuter clinic at 4403 62nd Ave. in Pinellas Park on Feb. 19. The opening during national spay/neuter month was no coincidence. SPOT is a nonprofit organization that provides low-cost spay/neuter services and educates people about pet overpopulation. The group's founder, Pamela Borres of St. Petersburg, gives credit for her inspiration to her canine companion. "When I adopted Leo from the SPCA, it broke my heart to know that all the cats and dogs wouldn't get a home," she says. "I researched to find a better way to solve the pet overpopulation problem and found that with a low-cost spay/neuter clinic and education we could help reduce the number of pets ending up in shelters."
Last year, SPOT distributed 6,000 vouchers to Bay area residents for discounted spay/neuter procedures at participating veterinary hospitals and through other programs. Sixty-six percent of those vouchers were redeemed, meaning nearly 4,000 dogs and cats were fixed. This year, the low-cost option will be more attractive than ever. "Most people put off spaying or neutering their pet because they can't afford it," Borres says. "Our services are available to anyone because it's the most important thing you can do for your pet." Fees for spaying and neutering at the SPOT clinic range from $45 to $50 for cats and $50 to $100 for dogs less than 90 pounds; it's $145 for dogs more than 100 pounds. The clinic also provides other low-cost pet care services. Sterilization not only eliminates unwanted litters, but also may reduce behavioral problems, prevent reproductive cancers and allow most pets to live longer, healthier lives. SPOT raised $150,000 for the clinic's start-up costs through T-shirt sales, yard sales, dog washes and the organization's annual pet photo contest and calendar sale. The clinic is staffed with a full-time veterinarian, two technicians and a receptionist. Borres and her team of volunteers will continue donating their time. It will cost more than $300,000 a year to operate the clinic, and Borres hopes donors will step up and contribute. "It's the humane solution to pet overpopulation," she says. "And it's a bonus to the community because it helps both people and pets by eliminating strays from the street [and] it saves tax payers money and resources from having to take in so many unwanted animals. The clinic is open 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For information call (727) 545-3463 or visit www.spotusa.org. Write to pet-lifestyle expert Kristen Levine at Fetching Communications, P.O. Box 222, Tarpon Springs FL 34688; e-mail kristen @fetchingcommunications.com. FIX A LOT OF PROBLEMS SpayUSA.org cites several benefits associated with spaying and neutering: Spay (females): No heat cycles, therefore males will not be attracted Less desire to roam Risk of mammary gland tumors, ovarian and/or uterine cancer is reduced or eliminated, especially if done before the first heat cycle Reduces number of unwanted animals Helps dogs and cats live longer, healthier lives Neuter (males): Reduces or eliminates risk of spraying and marking Less desire to roam, therefore less likely to be injured in fights or auto accidents Risk of testicular cancer is eliminated, and decreases incidence of prostate disease Reduces number of unwanted animals Reduces aggressive behavior, including dog bites Helps dogs and cats live longer, healthier lives

Write to pet-lifestyle expert Kristen Levine at Fetching Communications, P.O. Box 222, Tarpon Springs FL 34688; e-mail kristen@fetchingcommunications.com.