New York City’s branch of the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) unveiled on July 17 its third mobile spay/neuter veterinary clinic that will serve the five boroughs’ low-income pet owners, feral cat populations and animal shelters that provide adoption placement.
In operation seven days a week, the 685-square-foot truck will visit some of the city’s poorest populations to offer reduced-cost or free spay and neuter services, said Stephen Musso, executive vice president and chief of operations for New York City programs at the ASPCA.
At 37-feet-long, the truck comes equipped with a surgery table, 23 cages for recovering animals, counters for preparation, sanitation stations, a bathroom, microwave, and a CD player for both the animals’ and people’s listening pleasure. Each mobile unit is staffed by one veterinarian and two technicians. At busy stops, a public greeter joins the group to organize the day’s schedule and talk to pet owners.
The space and facilities allow staff to operate on one animal, while another is prepared for surgery and a third recovers.
Funds to purchase the $200,000 custom-made 2007 Isuzu truck came from Stephen Sander, a self-described “animal freak” and former Wall Street executive who grew up around the corner from the ASPCA’s headquarters on East 92nd Street. Donated in honor of his recently deceased 14-year-old dog, Sander said spay/neuter programs “get at the source of the unwanted animal problem” and help “reduce future animal cruelty.”
The nonprofit says the addition of the third mobile clinic in a decade will give it the capability to spay or neuter up to 75 animals per day or almost 30,000 per year. Organizers hope to meet a goal of roughly half that—18,000 animals spayed or neutered in the next year. Last year it says it provided about 12,000 free and low-cost spay/neuter surgeries with its two trucks.
Visiting18 locations each week, the fleet of spay/neuter clinics make regular stops in low-income housing areas, particularly those with a majority of the population living well below the poverty line, said Joel Lopez, outreach coordinator for the mobile unit program. Stops might include community parks, public housing projects, schools, libraries or animal shelters. A large majority of the locations are in either Brooklyn or the Bronx.
The mobile clinics also work with groups that care for feral cat populations, providing not only spay/neuter services, but also traps to capture the animals for treatment of other issues, Lopez said.
To apply for free spay/neuter surgery, pet owners must provide proof of public assistance, such as food stamps, disability, welfare, or Medicaid or Medicare. Without proof of assistance, a $25 fee is requested.
The new mobile clinic is a move toward realizing the ASPCA’s goal to make New York a no-kill city, Musso said. Still, “demand for [spay/neuter] services exceeds our capabilities,” he said.
For more information about ASPCA’s mobile spay/neuter clinics, visit the organization’s website.