For this episode of Community Conversations we spoke about the Neuter Scooter program and related services with Carl Allard from Saint Seton’s Orphaned Animals, and Bec Brown from Loving Touch Animal Hospital.
Q: So, tell us about the Neuter Scooter program.
CA: So, Saint Seton’s provides a subsidized neuter and spay program for companion animals in Prince William County. It’s subsidized so we can make it affordable. Because the medical facility that we’re using – Loving Touch Animal Hospital in Fredericksburg – we’re also providing transportation to make it a more doable activity. So we come to the Prince William County [Animal] Shelter once a month. People make appointments ahead of time.
We pick up their animals, we bring them back to the hospital, the procedure’s done, we bring them back to the shelter where the public reclaims their animals.
Q: So how did it get started?
CA: We found that there’s an insufficient number of low-cost facilities for people to get their animals fixed. And there’s great medical benefit to having animals spayed or neutered – and I’ll let Bec describe that, because she’s a licensed professional.
BB: There are many reasons why spaying or neutering your pet is important, beyond population control. We’re also looking at for a female dog, we are reducing the heat cycles. We’re also reducing the hormones that the body goes through. That in turn reduces the amount of mammary tumors that we find. It also reduces other hormone side effects – like hemophilia, and such, and in which later on in their life will cause complications.
For males, again we are reducing their hormone levels, so they are less likely to be on the aggressive side or territorial. It also will reduce testicular cancer, prostate issues, and even other hormone-related illnesses that gain as they grow old. So, it’s just not for population control, it’s not just ‘we need to control’. We’re looking at the long health of the patient, and making sure that they have a long, healthy life as much as we can.
Q: And pets are very important for people nowadays. Like for us, we have a dog that’s actually part of our family – it’s not just a pet. So, the pets are actually living longer. So this actually helps with their quality of life.
Q: But you don’t just do the spay and neuter program. What other services do you provide?
BB: We are a full-service general practice. When we see our patients, we see them for the wellness visits, for the puppy up to the senior care. We take care of vaccines, we take care of dentistry. If they happen to get ill we provide them care to get them through those hurdles in life. And as they age, we take care of their senior well care – making sure organ function maintains as much as possible, and even as they go past that point, them having quality of life. So, we need to medicate to ease arthritis, or they’re getting a little senile, we need to make their lives a little easier. We’re here for every step of their life.
Q: You guys work with many community partners. What partners do you work with?
CA: So again, Saint Seton’s has partnered with – for a similar Neuter Scooter program – in Orange County and in Culpepper County. And we have a relationship with the Humane Societies of Culpepper, Orange, and Prince William County as well. We’ve partnered with Loving Touch because they offer very affordable care, obviously with us there’s some additional adjustments, but their baseline prices are even great.
BB: The idea of Loving Touch is that we want to make it affordable for as many people as possible. In the last 10 years in the veterinary field, our prices have almost raised by 90%. That’s because we’re no longer just ‘here’s your vaccine, bless you, have a good life’. We’re seeing them as family members. The price of medications and the things we can treat have now improved like the human medication world has, and that all costs. But if we work with organizations like Saint Seton’s, then we can bring down the price and make sure everybody – whether they’re on the high spectrum or low spectrum – can get the care for their fur babies.
Q: One of the things that people might make a decision where they might look at a pet as a financial decision, even say something might be wrong with the pet – can you give us an example of you know, decisions being made by the household, just for the cost of care for a pet?
CA: So one of the things that Saint Seton’s has done over the years is we do have some assistance that we give to clients that cannot afford – urgent care for their animal. But the traditional prices at the traditional veterinarians, we have found that Loving Touch has been able to be a resource for us because they’re about half the price of other places for the large procedures. A simple rabies shot – that’s, no one’s going to save a lot of money going one place or another on that. But on a dental or a mass removal, or other procedures, we rely heavily on that.
We’ve partnered with a lot of the animal rescue groups in the area. They need an affordable way to get their animals vetted and ready for adoption – we work with them very closely, and Loving Touch.
Q: So, how can people get involved to help your cause?
CA: They can visit our website and learn more about our program and reach out and contact us. There are some volunteer opportunities on the Saint Seton’s side for fostering and other traditional animal rescue activities. At the hospital itself, the liability – they can’t take on volunteers.
BB: We have to make sure that everybody is safe, and the volunteers. But there are times where we go out to our outreach, for instance, the weekend of the fourth, we’re going to several events the SPCA has the Riverfront Festival for dogs, there’s also Stafford County Touch-A-Truck event where we’re just getting out and making sure people can get help if they need it. And those events need a lot of manpower – we could always use help for those.
Q: And of course, you could always use financial donations.
BB & CA: Absolutely.
Check back for the next episode of Community Conversations.
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