Reduced-Cost and Low Cost Spay/Neuter Services

   doc in surgery                  Doc with OCN cap





Suwannee PAWS information in Live Oak, FL:  Click upper left tab on menu or call 386-362-1754 :)

Since 2008, Dr. Tracie Daniels began a new facet of veterinary medicine geared toward high-quality high-volume spay/neuter (HQHVSN).  In our general rural areas of north Florida and south Georgia, there are shelters and private rescues that are often poorly funded. The ability to extend these services to these organizations helps the animals become adopted sooner since most rescues and shelters will not release a pet until it is spayed or neutered.  Similarly, there is a private individual need for these lower-cost services, as pet overpopulation is a staggering problem in the Southeast and poverty in rural areas can be very high.

Dr. Daniels is a strong advocate of early-age spay/neuter, even in large breed dogs.  Most animals can be spayed or neutered as early as 2 pounds of body weight (more common in kittens), especially in shelter situations.  When pets are owned by a family or person, it is often wise to wait until the vaccination series is well under way so they are more protected against potential disease while at the spay/neuter facility.  However, in a shelter or rescue situation this is often just not feasible and moving them out faster could mean the difference between life and death.

In July of 2013, Dr. Daniels attended a week-long class taught at the University of Florida which focused on Community Cat Populations, spay/neuter techniques, colony management, disease management, trapping, TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) programs, and how reduced-cost spay/neuter may make a huge impact in these cats’ livelihoods and in the neighborhoods and overcrowded shelters affected by their presence.

NFCD 2015 cats



There are different types of reduced-cost programs around.  A majority are co-funded by charities and grants, but an organization usually has to have federal 501(c)(3) status to even apply for these financial grants.  This is how many clinics can offer such reduced or even “free” spays and neuters; they are being paid by the subsidy of the grant, charitable group or private donors, fundraisers, Boards of Directors, etc.   In addition, the smaller an operation is, and the lower the population density, the less likely it is to receive the most funding.  So by design many grants are geared toward programs which do the highest numbers, which excludes many small rural communities which have a large physical “holding capacity” for strays, feral cats, and animal hoarding situations.  There is a real need for private donors and foundations to help assist groups wishing to operate into poorer areas, as these hurdles are preventing many interested veterinarians and rescues from being able to maximize their potential.

If you are a pet owner or rescue, when you are shopping around for reduced-cost or “free” spay/neuter services, remember they do not all receive the same (or in some cases zero) financial underwriting, and this should be considered.  Also ask about their quality of care, which standards for surgery they use, and if a tour of their facility is allowed.  In addition, ask around personally to others who have used their services.

There is also a fabulous effort to standardize methods of care for these high-quality reduced-cost spay/neuter facilities, please refer to the document of ASV Veterinary Medical Care Guidelines for Spay-Neuter Programs (2016).  This is exciting for those of us in this industry.  The clinic you choose should be compliant with these standards.  Click here to refer to this document: 

Veterinary Medical Care Guidelines for Spay-Neuter Programs

There are several options that exist for spay/neuter opportunities.  Some veterinarians provide services inside animal shelters but also offer services to the general public, others do surgeries out of a mobile unit like an RV,  some can lease a location to perform “in clinic” services where a regular clinic lets an organization work out of their facility for a day, and there are many stand-alone operations where this is their primary business.  All must be permitted by the state.  Finally, many financial assistance programs will require income verification in some cases, or even proof of residence…they are simply following the rules defined by the grant program.

Global Cat Day 2017 eventSuwannee PAWS received the 501(c)(3) nonprofit designation in late 2016 and were pleased to receive our first small grant in 2017, used on 134 community cats in October.  Growing our capacity and grant funding will take time, and private donations to our organization are now tax deductible.  We earnestly encourage your support, large or small, to help us achieve our goals.

Dr. Daniels was the primary spay/neuter veterinarian at North Florida Paws in Jennings from 2009 until the owner discontinued the onsite surgery services in January 2014.  Dr. Daniels performed over 7000 surgeries and was there for the 5,000th and 10,000th surgery milestones (see photo gallery).  In June 2014, she founded and opened Suwannee PAWS, Inc. in Live Oak, Florida to continue serving the area’s need.

If we could spay and neuter all unwanted pets we would not have so many healthy animals being killed in shelters daily, because there is simply not enough room to take care of them all.  Spay today!