WHAT’S THE BIG FIX?
SNIPSA launched its Big Fix clinics in May 2009. With more than 100 animals being euthanized every day in San Antonio, we knew there had to be a better way. How could we target the pet-owning population and bring spay/neuter to one’s doorstep? We found that people were generally receptive to doing the “right thing”; we just needed to make it convenient and doable. Providing this service for FREE was also important to remove any barriers that might dissuade a pet owner from having his pet spayed/neutered. The more sterilized pets in our city, the less entering the doors of our shelters. It was simple.
SNIPSA set out to build partners in the community. Partners that included churches and community centers right in the heart of the neighborhoods where the largest number of stray and un-owned animals roamed the streets; the same streets that animal control officers frequented and impounded thousands of unwanted dogs and cats. It was in these zip codes that SNIPSA focused its Big Fix clinics.
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HOW DOES IT WORK?
In the days leading up to a clinic, SNIPSA volunteers distribute bilingual flyers door-to-door, visiting with residents about the importance of spay/neuter. Volunteers talk to pet owners as they water their lawns, barbeque in their front yards, or watch their kids play. This is our opportunity to interface with residents and offer them free spay/neuter, vaccination, and micro-chipping services. Questions are answered and animals are signed up for surgery. It is this grassroots approach that allows SNIPSA volunteers to target those most in need.
We see first hand the litters born under porches, the dogs living on chains, feral cats hiding in bushes, and others who simply forage for survival. For many, the problem has simply gotten out of hand. What started as a well-meaning individual feeding a stray has resulted in litter after litter of puppies/kittens and an owner feeling completely overwhelmed.
The day prior to the Big Fix, SNIPSA hauls its trailer full of medical supplies and equipment to the selected location. In a matter of hours, a series of classrooms are transformed into a fully functional surgery and recovery suite. Floors are covered with protective material and over 200 kennels are assembled to hold incoming appointments. Anesthetic machines, surgery lights, and tables are set up to accommodate several veterinarians and all the support staff. This alone takes a day to prepare and soon becomes well worth the work.
THE DAY OF
Just after sunrise, people line up with their pets to drop them off for surgery. Paperwork is completed and an assembly of volunteers transfer, weigh, and place all incoming appointments in assigned kennels. It is amazing to watch as pet owners arrive with dogs in bird cages, puppies in laundry baskets, and cats in carboard boxes. We never quite know what to expect and are amazed at the creativity of folks.
The day begins and surgeons start their first surgery by 8am. All animals receive vaccinations, microchips, and pain medication. If we notice fleas, ticks, earmites, and other skin disease, we treat these conditions too, as this is often the animals first and last stop for veterinary care in its lifetime. A core group of nurses and volunteers monitor animals until they have recovered from surgery.
Owners are called and the animals return to their homes. They are afforded a better quality of life and most importantly will no longer be contributing to the pet overpopulation problem. In one day, we sterilize approximately 350 dogs and cats- fairly impressive when you consider the number of births prevented!
Before we know it, 16 hours have passed and its time to start cleaning up. Every kennel is bleached, every piece of equipment reloaded into the trailer, and the facility we once borrowed needs to be restored to its original condition.
We often work late into the night exhausted, yet feeling good about our work for the community. When we return months later to those same neighborhoods, there is a marked reduction in the number of litters born. We can move on to the next streets knowing this is the most effective means to prevent the needless euthanasia of innocent lives.
To date we have sterilized over 10,000 dogs and cats in 50 Big Fix clinics. What started as spaying and neutering just over 100 animals at our first Big Fix has evolved into sterilizing up to 327 in one long but amazing event.
It costs roughly $15,000 to host a Big Fix. It is well worth the investment when you consider it costs taxpayers upwards of $350 to impound, house, and ultimately euthanize a single animal at our city shelter. SNIPSA has definitely tapped into a well received yet under-utilized service for animals in our community.
FURTHERING OUR CAUSE
SNIPSA depends on grants and private donations to host its Big Fix clinics. PetSmart Charities and The San Antonio Area Foundation have been critical in helping SNIPSA purchase medical equipment and necessary supplies for our MASH style operations. However, their support is not inclusive in keeping our Big Fix clinics running.
We appreciate all the support we’ve received from our local community. Your donations are driving the change in San Antonio and helping us continue onward to a No-Kill city.
BIG FIXIN’ JANUARY 2017
24 hours, 225 dogs, 161 cats, and over 200 volunteers later… the first Big Fix of 2017 is done!
A total of 386 animals were spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and microchipped-all at no cost! Great job and huge thank you to all those who helped to make this Big Fix happen and continue to happen!
Remember, the more sterilized pets in our city, the less homeless animals entering the doors of shelters!
View more Big Fix pics at Big Fix Photo Gallery. by Joel Pena
OTHER LOW COST OPTIONS
There are several low cost spay/neuter and wellness clinics in San Antonio available to help!