Already overcrowded shelters face new challenge: closure of low-cost spay and neuter clinic

Posted at 3:21 PM, Jan 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-12 22:10:14-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Too many animals and nowhere to go. It's a crisis of unwanted dogs and cats in Middle Tennessee overwhelming shelters.

Now this: A key low-cost spay and neuter clinic just closed. And, that only makes the problem worse. We hear all the time how shelters are overcrowded, and the solution is what's being done inside this building.

"You take out the ovaries and the uterus," said veterinarian Sarah Cooper at the Joy Spay and Neuter Clinic with New Leash on Life in Lebanon.

She's about a quarter way through a full slate of surgeries scheduled for the day.

"I think we have 27 today, which is a lower number than normal."

That's right — one vet and more than two dozen surgeries.

"There's just not enough of us," said Cooper.

And that's just part of the problem.

The key to slowing the flood of unwanted cats and dogs crowding shelters is controlling the births.

"These bigger dogs can have 11 or 12 babies at a time, and that's a lot of babies."

Low-cost clinics are the key, but the recent sudden closure of the Michael Shipley clinic in Putnam County leaves pet owners in the area with nowhere to turn.

"Now with them gone it's either come this way with us or go east — but look, nothing close to any of these counties," said Angela Chapman with New Leash pointing at a map.

She said the combination of not enough vets and scarce financial resources leaves pet owners waiting months now for a spay or neuter if they can even get an appointment. And, she fears this is part of a troubling trend as more low-cost clinics struggle to stay open.

"We literally have people driving from two hours away just to get an appointment with us because they couldn't find one closer."

Consider when a clinic spays or neuters 5,000 animals in a year that prevents more than 100 times that number of unwanted animals.

Chapman says it really makes a difference.

There's just no simple solution.

Chapman says more need to be done to encourage people to pursue careers in veterinary medicine.

And communities need to commit more resources to support low-cost spay and neuter clinics.

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