Press-Republican

April 23, 2013

New program fixes ferals at lower cost

By RUTHANN ALEXANDER
Press-Republican

---- — PERU — Dr. Anne Marie Kiley prepped a cat for surgery in her mobile clinic outside Elmore SPCA while more felines waited for their turns.

Cats shifted anxiously or napped in their cages while the doctor worked on her patient.

Adirondack Mobile Veterinary Service is working with the animal shelter to spay and neuter cats for $40, whether they are pets, ferals or strays.

Receptionist Mindy Beshaw said the price includes spaying, neutering, rabies and distemper vaccines.

The procedure is done on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month; other days, Kiley charges regular prices and also does surgeries on dogs, too.

Alone, the rabies vaccine costs $10 and the distemper $15, Beshaw said.

AFFORDABLE

The regular price around the North Country is between $100 and $180 to spay a female feline and about $53 to $140 for neutering a male. Those costs may include checkups and other services but not vaccinations.

Dr. George Palmer, who owns Palmer Veterinary Clinic in Beekmantown, said the quality of care given to cats when they are spayed or neutered factors into the price.

He keeps female felines overnight because the surgery is more invasive, he said; male cats generally do not, but that’s up to the owner.

One reason costs are higher at facilities like his, as opposed to a mobile vet setup, Palmer added, is that he pays property taxes.

His clinic charges $53 to neuter a male cat and between $125 and $130 for a female.

MORE FERALS THESE DAYS

It seems like more people are abandoning cats these days, Beshaw said.

And if they are not already sterilized, they mate and contribute to the vast number of ferals in the area.

Kiley said vaccinating wild cats and strays decreases the risk of passing diseases to pets and humans.

She said her service does not try to find homes for most ferals because they do not have the room to keep the cats. And many are too wild to be domesticated.

Sometimes the cats might be tame enough to adopt out, but Elmore SPCA does not always have space for more animals.

WELDING GLOVES

Little yellow eyes of a black feral cat peered through the shadows of a cage.

“We have to use welding gloves to pick them up, or they scratch you,” said Robert Kiley, Dr. Kiley’s husband, as he pointed to the anxious little feline.

Mr. Kiley said his wife operates on a maximum of 17 cats every day they are at the SPCA.

“Spaying takes a half-hour,” he said. “It takes longer to knock them out.”

“There are too many cats and not enough homes,” Beshaw said.

Kiley said she will offer her $40 service until at least the end of the year; she hopes to extend it as long as she can.

STRAYS, FERALS

Kiley is not the only mobile veterinarian in the area. Mobile clinics are popping up to combat the increasing cat populations in the region and to offer owners a less expensive alternative to hospital prices.

Dr. Stacy Lambrinos’s Red Fern Spay and Neuter Veterinary Clinic offers routine services for cats and dogs. Spaying and neutering for cats starts at $80, and dogs start at $100, depending on weight.

Her prices had been cheaper for some time, but she raised them in order to cover costs.

The clinic has been around for five years, and she said people bring in their own cats and ferals as well.

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DISCOUNTED CAT SPAY, NEUTER

To set up an appointment at Adirondack Mobile Veterinary Service on days with discounted sterilization prices, call 314-1813.

Surgeries are performed in the mobile vet facility at Elmore SPCA, 556 Telegraph Road, Peru. Also, Tri-Lakes Humane Society in Saranac Lake offers the Spay/Neuter Voucher Assistance Program, providing financial-assistance vouchers to those who can't afford the entire cost of surgery to a dog or cat at nine participating veterinary hospitals/clinics in Franklin, Essex and Clinton counties.

Voucher amounts vary depending on the gender and type of animal -- $35 for a male cat, $50 for a female feline, $50 for a male dog and $75 for a female canine.

Some of the funds come through a grant from the NYS Animal Population Control Program and ASPCA. Learn more at http://tlhsny.webs.com.