ST. GEORGE — The Humane Society of Utah officially opened a new clinic in St. George during a ribbon-cutting ceremony held Wednesday. Local staff, as well as organization executives, spoke to community members present and invited attendees to tour the premises.
The clinic was established to provide spay/neuter, vaccination and microchip services to local pet owners at a reduced price, said Dr. Katie Gray, medical director for the new clinic.
“It’s a huge deal to be here and to be able to help with those services,” Gray said. “We know that millions and millions of animals enter shelters every year. The only proactive solution to pet overpopulation is to really focus on spay and neuter. And by offering vaccinations at an affordable price, we’re also hoping to be able to create a more humane community where more animals are able to receive veterinary care.”
The clinic began offering services after it was completed in late September 2020, but the official opening was postponed due to COVID-19. The veterinary health center is located at 1192 West Sunset Blvd, Suite 2, St. George, Utah.
President of the Humane Society of Utah Craig Cook spoke at the ceremony and cut the ribbon. He said that the program’s history has been shaped by the generosity of donors and the goodwill of volunteers.
His colleague, Vaughn Maurice, executive director for the state humane society, also spoke at the ceremony and made particular mention of the sizable gift left by a Utah resident, Maureen Alaraji. Maurice said that Alaraji’s donation, made after her death, totaled $1.35 million, and that the humane society is hoping to use the majority of the fund that remains to build a full-scale shelter and clinic somewhere in St. George.
“We actually help almost every shelter and rescue group in the state of Utah,” Maurice said. “We only have two physical locations currently: one in Murray and now one here in St. George. We want to have every service that we have in Murray here, so we’re planning a 15,000 square foot facility that will have adoptions, summer camps for kids, humane education resources and more.”
Maurice and other stakeholders spoke at a recent Washington County Commission meeting on the possibility of bringing their plans to fruition. He said that some local businesses pushed back against the plans, fearing proximity to the shelter would be bad for their businesses.
On the contrary, Maurice said, the shelter would be wholly enclosed and therefore not a disturbance, and the shelter and businesses may mutually benefit from one another.
Without the approval of the county commission, plans for the expanded shelter facility will remain in limbo as the Humane Society searches for the right location. In the meantime, local pet owners will be able to make use of the clinic’s services.
“We’re hoping that people that normally wouldn’t be able to afford any services for their pets could come here,” Gray said. “We also work with a lot of shelters and rescues in the area: helping and making sure that they can get all their rescue pets spayed and neutered.”
Since the clinic began operating, its veterinary staff has performed over 1,400 spay or neuter operations; administered 1,910 vaccinations and implanted 266 pet microchips, Gray said. With their trap and release program for treating local feral cats, the clinic has been able to treat at least 85 community cats.
Costs for procedures vary between cats and dogs and are dependent on the size and sex of the animal. Full pricing is available on their website, but the average cost for spay/neuter services is around $100 for dogs and $75 for cats. All vaccination or microchip services are priced at $30 or less.
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