By Emma Castleberry
In February, the Brother Wolf Animal Rescue Mobile Clinic surpassed 1,000 spay and neuter surgeries, just four months after it began operating. Brother Wolf expects to spay and neuter about 6,000 animals in 2019. “Many shelters and residents in our region have limited to no access to affordable spay/neuter services,” says Holly Amann, mobile clinic manager. “And while it’s not the only factor, this lack of access is a large reason why so many animals end up in shelters, and consequently why so many healthy, adoptable animals are being euthanized due to a lack of resources like space or the funds necessary to care for them.” It’s not uncommon for a spay or neuter surgery to run about $200 at a typical veterinary clinic. The Humane Alliance in Asheville does offer low-cost spay and neuter surgeries, but appointments are limited.
In an effort to solve this problem, Brother Wolf launched its mobile clinic in November of 2018 with a vehicle donation from the not-for-profit Fido Fixers. The clinic’s daily operations are funded through grants and private donations. Shelters and community members also pay some fees to the clinic that help to cover costs.
The mobile clinic serves six counties: Buncombe, McDowell, Rutherford, Haywood, Transylvania and Iredell. There are also plans to expand to more communities throughout Western North Carolina as resources allow. “We work with each community to identify their specific needs and help the most vulnerable animals in their areas, whether it be shelter animals, owned animals and/or community cats,” says Amann. The clinic offers additional services to surgery patients, including low-cost vaccines, microchipping, deworming, and testing for heartworms and FeLV/FIV.
Brianna Marshall, a vet tech at the mobile clinic, has been working with Brother Wolf for about five months. “Being able to travel to different counties in need and help thousands of animals a year is an amazing thing that I wanted to be a part of,” she says. “We see anywhere from 15 to 30 animals a day, and some days we’ve gone over 30.” Marshall says many of the patients are puppies and kittens, but there are also older animals.
“The need for spay/neuter programs is so large and the resources are so limited,” she says. “We’re helping these animals for the long term and it’s easy to do. Simply spaying a female before her first heat will reduce her chance for cancer later in life and will save her from a life-threatening condition called pyometra, and neutering can help reduce unwanted behaviors in males.” Marshall adds that by curbing overpopulation, less animals will be in shelters and there will be more resources for those that end up there.
The mobile clinic is a part of Brother Wolf’s overall mission to build and sustain no-kill communities in Western North Carolina. The ASPCA defines a no-kill community as one that saves 90 percent or more of the animals that enter its shelters. “Spaying and neutering is a critical part of reducing the number of animals who enter the shelter system,” says Amann. “While Buncombe is a no-kill community, many surrounding areas are still euthanizing healthy, adoptable animals due to a lack of space and other resources. By providing this resource that reduces future populations of companion animals entering shelters, we’re strengthening our mission of building no-kill communities for the animals who depend on us.”
For more information visit BWAR.org/Mobile-Clinic, where you can view a full list of services and costs and set up an appointment for surgery.