Through the generosity of an anonymous donor, the SPCA has received a climate controlled transport vehicle for use in local spay and neuter rescue programs.

On the surface this may not sound like an important event, but to those of us and our partners throughout the CSRA, it is a monumental step toward insuring that options for affordable and accessible sterilization continue.

Since the March opening of the SPCA's new surgery center, we have performed over 1,800 spay and neuter surgeries whose greatest cost has been only $70. In the early 1980s the SPCA opened the first clinic dedicated to just low cost sterilization. There is no doubt that that initiative, combined with the then newly passed state law requiring all shelters and rescues to spay and neuter before adopting, made a significant difference in the population explosion of unwanted litters. Despite community growth and the fact that there is still much work to be done to reach the goal of no more homeless pets and euthanasia of adoptable animals; the public awareness, affordability, and accessibility of inexpensive sterilization services has made a significant impact.

Now with the new climate controlled transport truck the SPCA can pick up groups of dogs and cats at central locations, bring them to the clinic, do the procedure and then return them to the owners at the pick-up site. This type of system, in cooperation with our partners, such as FOTAS, McCormick County Humane Society, and Animal Allies in Barnwell County, and with neighborhood organizations that mobilize its residents, will make it even more efficient to do our job. There truly is no longer any excuse to not sterilize your pet if you want to.

Outreach is key for any animal welfare organization to solve the pet overpopulation problem. Going where the pets and their owners live is a key ingredient to the prevention programs we support. We are currently pursuing grants for a strategy that has proven effective in a variety of communities all around the country; targeted spay and neuter programs.

The reasoning behind targeted spay and neuter is not simply to throw money at the problem, but to use those scarce resources in the most effective way. Foundations that fund these programs look at data to provide spay and neuter services in the most needed areas of a community. For example, we can plot on a map exactly where every stray dog or cat was picked up by animal control officers or by a good Samaritan who saw an animal that was lost. We also sort it out by the numbers of intact males found in an area, pregnant females, kittens and puppies. Trends show up when you study the data.

It may be a particular Zip code, a neighborhood, or a mobile home park with a big problem. If you live in an area within 45 miles of our clinic and can mobilize a group of pet owners who would like their animals spayed or neutered then call us and we will make arrangements to pick up and drop off those animals for surgery. Our Clinic Manager, Betty Erickson, will be happy to help you schedule the transport and with funding for the procedure. Call the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare at 648-6863. You can also access all our prices for the procedure and our walk-in vaccination clinic on our website

Barbara Nelson is the president/CEO of the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare.