Dec 13, 2022
VHS LOW-COST SPAY & NEUTER CLINIC COMPLETES MILESTONE 100,000TH SURGERY
On Tuesday, December 13th the VHS Low-Cost Spay & Neuter Clinic will perform its 100,000th surgery! This is an extraordinary milestone that the entire Vanderburgh Humane Society team is so excited to achieve!
History & Context
The Vanderburgh Humane Society moved into its current facility in June of 2004. At that time, the interior buildout for the future Spay & Neuter Clinic was finished… but it contained no equipment yet. It was but a faraway dream of the staff and volunteers.
In 2005, Kendall Paul, CEO (who was the Executive Director at the time) and her longtime colleague Cindy Nemer (who retired in 2021) traveled to Pets Alive in Bloomington by invitation from PetSmart Charities. They were immediately inspired and knew that the Evansville area desperately needed a similar resource. In fact: “We talked about it all the way home,” says Paul. “I still remember how excited we were to get started. We looked at each other and said, ‘We can do this. We can make this happen.’”
Over the next 2 years, the VHS would focus on fundraising efforts to complete the Clinic. PetSmart Charities continued to provide support and eventually funding. Then, a $300,000 gift gave the Davidson Rausch Low-Cost Spay & Neuter Clinic its name. The Clinic would go on to become the 23rd member of the National Spay-Neuter Response Team, undergoing preliminary training at Humane Alliance in North Carolina.
On August 1, 2007, Dr. Duane Lautner performed the very first surgery. It was a canine neuter. The patient? A dog named Rusty, shown at right.
Here & Now
In the 15 years since, the Vanderburgh Humane Society’s Low-Cost Spay & Neuter Clinic has provided a truly lifesaving service to 100,000 pets in the Tri-State. The Clinic has likely prevented more than half a million unwanted litters from being born into an already-overwhelmed local shelter system. Its value in the community cannot be overstated.
Spay/neuter is the only permanent solution to the complex problem of shelter overcrowding, not only in Evansville but worldwide. Getting animals adopted is, of course, still a priority. But it is not nearly enough. The flow of animals into shelter systems continues to outpace adopter demand. that already exist, much less all of their offspring. The VHS clinic is stopping the problem at the source. Communities must “turn off the faucet” to truly make a dent in overpopulation. Reducing strain on shelter systems also allows organizations to devote more resources to each animal, thereby increasing that animal's chance for a positive outcome.
“Our Spay & Neuter Clinic is arguably the most effective tool that this region has to combat pet homelessness and improve quality of life for families in our community,” says Amanda Coburn, VHS Director of Advancement. “From 2008, the first full year the Clinic was open, until the end of 2021, we have reduced euthanasia at our facility by 88% in 15 years. We strongly believe that the Clinic is the biggest factor in that drastic reduction.”
The Clinic serves three demographics. First, every dog, cat, and rabbit adopted from the VHS is altered before it goes home. Second, the clinic is open to the public as an affordable option to spay or neuter a pet. Pet-Friendly Services of Indiana SNAP vouchers are also accepted at the Clinic, which funds surgeries for low-income Hoosiers through the sale of Pet Friendly Indiana license plates. Third, VHS collaborates with other area animal welfare agencies to offer affordable surgeries for their pets and clients, including:
- Evansville Animal Care & Control
- Another Chance for Animals
- It Takes a Village Canine Rescue
- New Life Rescue & Adoption in Posey County
- Humane Society of Henderson County
- Feline Fix
- SNIPZ in Henderson
Therefore, supporting the VHS Clinic keeps lower-cost services available to other nonprofit animal welfare agencies in the community. Without it, they would be paying higher prices at full-service practices to get their own animals fixed prior to adoption.
The Clinic performs surgeries Monday-Friday by appointment, excluding holidays. Clients DO NOT have to live in Vanderburgh County or be low-income to utilize services. Make an appointment here!
While these 100,000 surgeries are making a difference, as a community we still have a long way to go. For example, the VHS currently has more than 500 animals in their care and looking for new homes. Other agencies such as Evansville Animal Control are still seeing thousands of unaltered animals coming into their facilities each year.
The United States is currently facing a critical nationwide veterinary shortage that shows no sign of improving anytime soon. There is an estimated shortage of 15,000 veterinarians for U.S. animals by 2030. As a result, according to Banfield Pet Hospital, “a potential shortage of this size would leave 75 million pets without veterinary care by 2030.” That means that demand for services like what the VHS Clinic provides will only increase, while families will still struggle for economic access to those services in the fallout of Covid-19 and inflation.
The community must band together to address these multifaceted issues and press on until all local companion animals are happy, healthy, and loved.
How the Public Can Help
People or businesses can make a tax-deductible gift at give.vhslifesaver.org or mail a check to VHS, PO Box 6711, Evansville, IN 47719. The average cost of one surgery is $50. The VHS is an independent and local nonprofit that is not financially affiliated with any national agency like the ASPCA or Humane Society of the United States. Their primary source of support is local donations from individuals, and they receive no tax-based funding from the city or county. The VHS has big plans and dreams of big possibilities for what the Clinic could become in the future, but those expansions will never happen without public support!
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