VACAVILLE — Bearitt, a tri-colored miniature Australian shepherd, can yawn and sneeze on command.
His owner, Vacaville resident Monica Keels, said, “He’s hilarious.” He picked up his tricks when he mimicked Keels after she sneezed one day.
But now there is one thing that 9-month-old Bearitt can’t do: Make baby Bearitts.
Keels dropped off Bearitt recently at the new low-cost spay-and-neuter clinic in Vacaville at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Solano County facility on Peabody Road. The clinic is a fledgling enterprise of the Solano SPCA and still getting its sea legs. Keels found out about it on the nonprofit’s Facebook page.
“You guys are going to be slammed,” Keels said to SPCA staff as she checked in Bearitt.
Keels, like many others, couldn’t afford the spay or neuter cost at a full-service veterinarian’s office. The new permanent low-cost clinic is the only one in Solano and Yolo counties, which previously left local residents having to go to Napa or Sacramento counties for low-cost services of the same type. Multiple calls were fielded daily from people looking for a low-cost clinic, said Debbie Dillon, the Solano SPCA director.
“That is what got us thinking about heading in that direction,” she said. “I’m very proud of this. We’ve been wanting to do this a long time. It will make a difference.”
“We see our mission as helping the rescue groups and those with lower incomes who want to do the right thing and spay and neuter but can’t afford a full-service clinic,” said Dr. Michele Lee, one of the two veterinarians on board at the clinic. The other veterinarian is Dr. Kelly Palm.
Once up and running at full capacity, Lee said the clinic staff plans about 8,000 spays and neuters a year, but calculates the first-year figures at around 2,000.
“I think we’ll make a dent,” Lee said of the county’s unfixed furry population.
That dent will translate directly to a lower euthanasia rate at the county’s shelter.
The clinic will soon be a full-time endeavor. Dillon said they’re “starting slow” and building up to speed as the two veterinarians and three technicians get used to working with each other and develop a rhythm from sedation through surgery. With the three tables lined up in the large surgery room, it boasts future assembly-line effectiveness.
This is the second week of the quick surgeries – they take about 10 minutes for a cat and 20 minutes for a dog, said Dave Roth, SPCA president. Most of the animals in the initial couple of weeks were SPCA animals, with a smattering from the public mixed in. It’s a dream that’s been a long time in the making for Dillon, Roth and many others.
“This is monumental,” Roth said. “We started work on this years ago.”
A large donation in 2007 began the expansion ball rolling, Dillon said. She said it enabled the facility to “move up to the next level.” The SPCA facility has seen a lot of expansion since, including a separate cattery building, a new office, classrooms and a pet store.
The spay-and-neuter clinic is the newest piece of the puzzle. It’s been put together largely by searching for lucrative deals, grants and donations of time, money and materials.
“We did it for a fraction of the cost if we had to do it ourselves,” Dillon said. “The community came together to make this happen.”
The modular building behind the office is divided into four areas – the exam or prep room, the surgery area with the three tables, the dog and cat recovery area and the reception area. They’re already thinking about the future.
“Did you mention the second double wide?” Lee said to Dillon, laughing.
They already know how it will be configured: laundry room, public restrooms, office and lounge for the staff and an emergency kennel setup.
Even in its second week, it’s a smooth work in progress, Lee said. She pulled on her rubber gloves and out on her mask as she got ready for her first patient of the day: a tortoiseshell-colored kitten in foster care.
“I tell them when I am done and they start prepping the next one,” Lee said.
Second up was Bearitt. He was muzzled for safety, and technician Shawn Evertts gently scooped up the dog; his eyes mirrored panic as they darted around the room, perhaps looking for something familiar. Evertts, an experienced technician, said he liked the idea of the clinic and understood the need for it.
“It’s a good feeling to help,” he said.
Within minutes after the sedative, Bearritt was out. The pace of moving the animals in and out is quick but methodical and caring. Within 30 minutes, Lee completed Bearitt’s surgery and the dog was coming out of the anesthetic.
“He’d make cute babies but there are too many babies out there,” Lee said.
The clinic is open by appointment only, Tuesdays through Thursdays. The clinic number is 448-8750.
Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.