CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A group of determined individuals hopes to aid in the fight against animal over-population by opening a low-cost spay and neuter facility to serve Charleston and surrounding areas.
Lisa Mitchell announced plans for the "high-volume, high-quality," spay and neuter clinic Thursday evening at the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association's monthly board meeting. Mitchell said the Charleston Regional Spay/Neuter Center would help address the cat and dog over-population problems in the area and also will aid in the push toward the no-kill philosophy the animal shelter is working to adopt.
Mitchell, a longtime animal rescuer, said 54 percent of dogs and 80 percent of cats entering West Virginia animal shelters are typically euthanized. Her group wants to bring that number down.
She said it's an issue she's been thinking about for quite some time but started brainstorming solutions for in January. She and a team of volunteers met about once a month to begin talking about how to make the clinic work.
"You know there's an overpopulation problem in the area, everyone knows that," Mitchell said. "But you don't know what the exact model is the best thing to fix your areas over population."
They worked with Humane Alliance, based in Asheville, N.C., to assess the community's needs and how different clinic models might help. Some of the options looked at were mobile clinics and providing a transportation service to other high-volume clinics.
She said the Humane Alliance's model, which focuses on providing a high volume of sterilizations at an affordable rate, would best suit the area. The clinic would have strict health protocols and would receive training and technical assistance from Humane Alliance.
"The programs that currently exist are fantastic but they just can't quite keep up with the tide of over-population," Mitchell said.
The facility would focus on those low-income pet owners who are currently limited to using reduced rate veterinarian services or voucher programs. She said the Humane Alliance found in Asheville that 85 percent of the animals seen at the clinic had never been seen by a veterinarian.
The facility would provide only spay and neuter services along with basic vaccines and "a little bit of preventative care."
"Our hope is that as we intake the animals, we find out what region they're in and encourage them and educate them to continue with vet services with private vets in their area," Mitchell said.
She said it's understood that some people who can afford to go to private veterinarians will come to the clinic but the majority of their clients would likely be those who have never been to a private facility.
The hope is to serve residents within about a 120-mile radius of Charleston.
They are now are in the beginning stages. She said they are searching for prospective sites to either build or open the clinic. The hope is to be close to interstates and have ample parking.
She estimated it would cost $450,000 to build, open and operate the clinic. The group is now starting to fundraise. The group plans to apply for grants and to foundations specific to their cause. They also planned to appeal to city and county governments and also would be soliciting private donations.
Mitchell said the clinic would reduce the number of animals brought to the shelter.
The group hopes to work with local animal shelters, veterinarians, rescues, and trap and return programs.
Board President Roger Wolfe was excited about the prospect of a high-volume, low-cost animal sterilization clinic.
"I think it will go a long way to serving our joint interests and purposes," Wolfe said. "If more people are taking advantage of low cost spay and neuter that means fewer animals that we'll have to deal with."
Mitchell will meet in the coming weeks with the board's Veterinarian-Ad Hoc committee.
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.cr...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4850.