Helping Hands announces plans for low-cost spay/neuter clinic

Published: Oct. 17, 2020 at 7:45 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - People who cannot afford to have their pet spayed or neutered will soon have a new option. Helping Hands Humane Society is adding a low-cost spay/neuter clinic.

Plans for the clinic, plus a new area for kittens, were announced Saturday during the organization’s annual Bone Appetit benefit. The event was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Honestly, it’s been brewing for years,” Helping Hands executive director Kathy Maxwell said. "It’s a much-needed service in our community.

While discussions go back several years, HHHS Board President Jay Newbery said a call from long-time supporters Kevin and Lisa Hahn put it on the fast track.

“(He) contacted me and said, ‘You guys have been talking about this. What do we need to do to make it happen? I’m willing to put in some money.’ And it kinda got the ball rolling,” Newbery said.

Newbery said the organization quickly reached more than half of the $500,000 needed for both projects. Each will be put in existing space at the shelter’s facility near SW 21st and Belle.

The clinic will utilize more than half of what’s currently a large storage area in the northwest corner of the shelter, behind their large training room. It will have its own entrance, and include an operating room, recovery areas, and isolation rooms. HHHS would hire a veterinarian and a few staff specifically for the clinic, though they could assist with other shelter tasks as needed. People would qualify for services based on income or other factors, like disability. Fees for spay/neuter services would be reduced, though HHHS will partner with other organizations for people needing further assistance.

The goal is to affect the pet overpopulation issue.

“One of the biggest reasons why people don’t get their animal spayed or neutered is cost,” Newbery said. “A lot of times, you end up with somebody who gets a puppy from somewhere, doesn’t get it spayed or neutered, it ends up having puppies, they can’t afford to take care of those puppies, and those puppies, a lot of times, end up here, and it just ends up with more and more animals in the community that don’t have homes, aren’t being taken care of.”

Though the clinic would carry the ongoing expense of staff and supplies, Newbery said projections based on similar clinics show it should be self-supporting.

The kitten colony will be created by re-purposing a conference room on the southwest end of the building.

“We get an exceedingly outrageous number of kittens throughout the year,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell said the special care kittens need requires they first go to foster families until they’re old enough for adoption. But those spots fill up, and the regular cat colonies aren’t the right place for little ones.

“A lot of kittens have special needs and being in environments that can be loud can cause a lot of anxiety in them and, in turn, can cause medical problems,” Maxwell said. “This space will be away from the rest of the shelter, so it will be a much quieter, much calmer space.”

Maxwell said the kitten colony will care for babies when foster families are not available, or if a foster family is going on vacation or out of town. It also will be a space for cats who are pregnant or just had kittens.

Helping Hands leaders say the additions fill key gaps in caring for animals.

“The community is there for us, and we want to be there for the community,” Newbery said.

The new facilities could be ready by the end of next year.

“We are very excited,” Maxwell said.

People who would like to donate to the projects may stop by the shelter, or give online at Indicate in the notes that the gift is the spay/neuter clinic and kitten colony.

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