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Spay and neuter clinic helps animals and their humans

by BERL TISKUS
Reporter | April 11, 2024 12:00 AM

The Joe McDonald Health and Fitness Center was awash with dogs, cats and their people last weekend. 

The Arlee Rehabilitation Center teamed up with Spay Montana, which brought three veterinary teams and staff to Salish Kootenai College for the annual Spay and Neuter Clinic. Organizers of the free clinic expected to complete 200 procedures during the two-day event.

About 60 volunteers were recruited to help in so many ways:  checking off animals as they arrived for surgery, organizing the lineup, helping people maneuver their pets to the prep areas. Also, there was a school-bus load of feral cats in cages waiting to be spayed and neutered that needed to be carried into the building.

After the canines and felines were shaved for surgery, the area around the incision disinfected, and anesthesia administered by a very competent crew, it was on to surgery. 

Alexis Scott was waiting with Aries, her part-husky mix, in her lap. The clinic combined all the things Aries dislikes – crowds, the vet’s office, and not being free to run around. 

Another project was to solicit clean old sheets and other linens that volunteers then converted into soft, comfortable beds for dogs and cats in the recovery area. Post-surgery, volunteers carried anesthetized animals to the beds and stayed with them as they woke up. 

Many owners ducked right in to help their dogs or cats in recovery. That was the case with blue heeler Bella. Her owner was right beside her, helping her through the shaky sensation of waking up. 

Myuh, a 6-month-old husky/German shepherd mix, had her whole family by her side, including toddler Kanenn Belcourt. 

Sissy, a 10-year-old miniature red-nose pit bull, came with her owner, Denice, who was concerned because Sissy was older than most of the dogs getting spayed. Denice had been robbed right before the date of the last clinic, and was determined to get the job done this time around. 

ARC Director Filip Panusz explained that the Arlee center’s holistic vision incorporates three areas of service: helping underserved communities and victims of trauma; empowering tribal communities and combatting the indigenous youth suicide crisis; and rescuing animals. 

A free spay and neuter event gives people who might not be able to afford to “fix” their pet, a way to protect their animal from unwanted pregnancies. 

He told a story about a young male dog who was not neutered and had been abandoned. The animal was in danger of being attacked by packs of dogs who pick on intact males; he could have been run over; and he was susceptible to Canine parvovirus because of his age. 

Worried about the dog and disgusted with his abandonment, the neighborhood banded together, contacted Panusz, kept tabs on the young dog, and kept him safe until he could be rescued.

In some cases, it’s the humans who need a hand as much as their animals. People may love and worry about their pets, but sometimes can’t afford to feed them or pay their vet bill, or don’t have transportation to the vet for shots for their dogs and cats.

Last weekend, The Joe was packed with volunteers who wanted to help people just as much as their pets.  

    Tyra and Cocoa wait with their proud moms at the free ARC Spay and Neuter Clinic on Saturday, April 6. (Berl Tiskus/Leader)
 
 
    Raven wait her turn for spaying under her mom's chair. (Berl Tiskus/Leader)
 
 
    Veterinary tech Brenda works to give a feral anesthesia before she is spayed. (Berl Tiskus/Leader)