LUMBERTON — Veterinarians across Robeson County will offer discounted spay and neuter services from Monday until March 15 in an effort to prevent strays and reduce the number of animals that have to be euthanized at the county pound.
Six animal hospitals will participate in the Robeson County Veterinary Medical Association’s twice-a-year SNIP initiative.
“What happens with so many [unwanted animals] is they just get abandoned and discarded at trash drops, on the side of the road. It’s a vicious cycle,” said David Brooks, a doctor at Pembroke Veterinary Hospital who helps organize the program. “I don’t know a single town that’s not plagued by stray animals.”
Short for “Spay/Neuter Improve Pets,” SNIP was established in 2010 in an effort to curtail the historically high number of unwanted dogs and cats that are euthanized at the Robeson County Animal Shelter. In the mid-2000s, as many as 5,000 animals were put down annually at the facility. While that number has since decreased, the euthanization rate has been trending upwards in recent years.
More than 2,000 animals have been spayed or neutered through the SNIP initiative since the Robeson County Veterinary Medical Association first began offering it, with a record 423 pets receiving the procedure in March 2013. This SNIP will be the eighth one held.
In addition to county’s pet population in check, Brooks said the procedure can improve an animal’s quality of life.
“Both male and female dogs that have been spayed or neutered just generally have better health,” he said. “There’s less fighting, less scuffling, and it’s less likely they’ll be crossing the highway to find females.”
Brooks added that female dogs are less likely to develop cancer after they have been spayed.
Pets older than 4 months that are brought to participating animal hospitals for the procedure will also receive a rabies vaccination.
“It’s a state mandate that we have to give them a rabies shot,” Brooks said. “If they bring a dog in here that’s never been to a veterinarian, it will leave here with a rabies shot.”
More than a dozen cases of rabies were reported during an outbreak of the disease in Robeson County last year.
The cost of the procedure includes anesthesia and surgery. Costs are as follows: female cats, $75; male cats, $60; female dogs less than 40 pounds, $85; female dogs more than 40 pounds, $100; male dogs less than 40 pounds, $80; and male dogs more than 40 pounds, $95. The procedure normally costs as much as $150, depending on the size and breed of the animal.
“One thing about this clinic we’re having right now is it’s open to all people whether they live in Robeson County or not. Regardless of the income, they get a reduction in the fee,” Brooks said.
Bill Smith, director of the Robeson County Department of Health, believes that initiatives like SNIP will eventually lead to a decrease in the number of animals euthanized each year.
“Spaying and neutering animals will reduce the unwanted pet population and, thanks to these programs, we should see a reduction in the number of euthanizations,” he said.
Pets owners are asked to schedule an appointment Participating veterinary clinics are: Biard’s Animal Hospital; 3169 E. Elizabethtown Road, Lumberton, 910-739-4998; North End Veterinary Clinic, 5791 Fayetteville Road, Lumberton, 910-738-9368; Southeastern Veterinary Hospital,1720 N.C.. 211, Lumberton, 910-739-9411; South Robeson Veterinary Hospital, 5412 N.C. 41, Fairmount, 910-628-7178; North Star Veterinary Hospital, 532 Canady Road, Parkton, 910-521-3431; and Pembroke Veterinary Hospital, 1447 Prospect Road, Pembroke, 910-521-3431.