March 4, 2013

Spay Day volunteers work on 730 pets for low-income owners

Hundreds of pet owners dropped off their dogs and cats to be spayed or neutered at dramatically reduced prices in the Sacramento region, part of the 14th annual Spay Day.

Linda Giguiere of Woodland is pretty attached to her puppy Charlie.

"He's like a part of my left leg," she joked about her 1-year-old Brussels Griffon pooch.

Still, Giguiere was looking for a way to make Charlie a bit less rambunctious. So on Sunday morning, she was one of hundreds of pet owners who dropped off their dogs and cats to be spayed or neutered at dramatically reduced prices in the Sacramento region, part of the 14th annual Spay Day.

About 730 pets were surgically altered during Sunday's event, which offered low-cost veterinarian services to income-qualified residents.

The nonprofit Sacramento Area Animal Coalition, which organizes Spay Day, reported that the surgeries took place at 20 locations in Sacramento and Yolo counties – 16 veterinary clinics and four animal shelters.

About 60 surgeries were scheduled at the Sacramento County animal shelter alone.

Veterinarians, shelter employees and volunteers worked throughout the day, donating their time and services. For $15 a cat and $20 a dog, owners received about $250 worth of services, including the surgical alteration, vaccinations, permanent microchip placement and flea treatments.

Coalition president Shannon Asquith said Spay Day has altered more than 8,300 animals in 14 years in the Sacramento area, preventing the potential for millions of births of animals.

She said the event is paid for through sponsorships and private donations. The coalition's mission is to reduce animal overpopulation.

"Spaying and neutering dogs and cats leads to better health and improved behavior, and reduces the number of animals entering area shelters," Asquith said. She estimated that Sunday's surgeries could prevent the births of 14,000 puppies and kittens in the next year.

Giguiere, a senior citizen on a fixed income, said she checked area clinics to get Charlie neutered, but found that the surgery alone would cost more than $100. Then she found out she was eligible for a Spay Day surgery and services for $20.

"You can't beat that," she said, after dropping off Charlie at the Hatton Veterinary Hospital on Sheldon Road in south Sacramento. "I've been looking forward to getting this done. I think it will settle him down a bit. It's a wonderful service to take advantage of."

Cody Aguilar and Alex Manzo of Sacramento brought their 6-month-old tabby kitten Chimmy to the vet hospital to be neutered for $15.

"It's a really good deal," Aguilar said. "He's a very loving cat, but we needed to get this done."

This year's Spay Day was in honor of the late Sacramento County Animal Control Officer Roy Marcum, who was killed while checking on an evicted man's dog in a Galt home late last year, Asquith said.

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