‘This was an overwhelming problem’: Humane Society of Utah opens affordable spay, neuter clinic in St. George

Zippy, an adoptable animal at the Humane Society of Utah, location and date not specified | Photo courtesy of the Humane Society of Utah, St. George News

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — The Humane Society of Utah has opened a spay, neuter and vaccination clinic in St. George that provides affordable services to animal shelters, rescue groups and pet owners in the community. 

Clinic staff celebrate on opening day, St. George, Utah, Sept. 29, 2020 | Photo courtesy of the Humane Society of Utah, St. George News

“We know there are a lot of areas in Utah that could use help, but this was an overwhelming problem,” said Deann Shepherd, director of marketing and communications for the Humane Society of Utah. “There are thousands of animals going into the shelters in St. George each year.”  

Shepherd said that shortly after Vaughn Maurice was appointed as executive director of the Humane Society of Utah in the spring of 2019, he visited Washington County’s animal shelters and observed an immense need for affordable spay and neuter services due to pet overpopulation, something that was complicated by a limited amount of veterinary providers in the area.

The St. George clinic was created with the aim of easing the burden on local animal shelters and rescue organizations while promoting responsible pet ownership within the community.  

Shepherd said when pet owners have an alternative option for fixing their pets that’s affordable, they are getting the essential procedure done.

“And that’s what’s important: to keep pets out of the shelter and help with the overpopulation and the pet homelessness crisis in this area.” 

The St. George clinic started accepting appointments at the beginning of October. They have a full-time veterinarian and a clinic manager on staff, supported by several veterinary technicians and receptionists. 

The clinic currently provides spaying, neutering and vaccination services only. It is not a veterinary hospital equipped to treat ill or injured animals and does not offer routine grooming or medical services. 

Animals arrive for spay, neuter and vaccination services, St. George, Utah, Sept. 29, 2020 | Photo courtesy of the Humane Society of Utah, St. George News

Clinic manager Kelsie Watters told St. George News that two local rescue groups, P.A.W.S. and the Jackson Day Foundation, have already booked numerous appointments for their adoptable pets. The Humane Society of Utah has signed a memorandum of understanding with the LaVerkin Animal Shelter and is in the process of finalizing agreements with the St. George Animal Shelter and Because Animals Matter, another rescue organization. 

“I have reached out to all known shelters and rescues in Washington County, and we’d love to work with all of them,” she said. 

Shepherd said the Humane Society of Utah plans to expand their presence in the St. George area within the next few years by building an animal shelter and adoption center, for which they are currently fundraising. 

Their goal of decreasing the number of puppies and kittens entering animal shelters throughout Washington County begins with discouraging people from breeding their pets, Shepherd said, either for profit or unintentionally. Young dogs and cats strain the resources of animal shelters and rescue organizations and often require foster homes, as they are difficult to raise in a shelter environment. 

“It puts a lot of burden on a shelter to care for those baby animals,” she said. “Not every shelter has that available.” 

Spaying and neutering animals before they reach sexual maturity also helps prevent behavioral issues from developing, such as excessive barking or yowling, aggression and territorial urine marking. Additionally, early sterilization reduces the risk of uterine infections, prostate issues and certain types of cancer in both dogs and cats. 

Cats and dogs should ideally be sterilized between 8 weeks and 4 months old, Shepherd said. However, the St. George clinic will spay or neuter animals of any age that are still unfixed. Spay and neuter services range between $96-$123 for dogs and $70-$80 for cats.

Shepherd said the purpose of the clinic is not to compete with local veterinary hospitals but to provide an option for people who would otherwise be discouraged from sterilizing their pets by prohibitive costs, resulting in unintentional and unwanted litters. 

“We want people to be empowered that as responsible pet owners, they can fix this problem by fixing their pets,” she said 

Spaying, neutering and vaccination services are offered at the St. George clinic by appointment only. To book an appointment, visit the Utah Humane Society St. George clinic website or call 435-216-7960

Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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