The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine Canine Club held its annual Canine Spay Day last month. Junior veterinary students performed the surgeries on 24 dogs-12 spays and 12 neuters-from the local Madison-Oglethorpe Animal Shelter (MOAS), with sophomore and freshmen students providing anesthetic services. The Canine Club provides this spay/neuter service at the UGA Teaching Hospital free of charge to a local animal shelter each spring.
"Our entire club budget goes to Spay Day each year," says club secretary Shirin Modaresi. "All of our fundraisers pay for making these animals ready for new homes." Once the dogs are spayed or neutered, they are taken back to the animal shelter and prepared for adoption.
Approximately 65 students are involved in Spay Day each year, overseen by several boarded surgeons and staff from the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital and veterinary technicians from Athens Technical College.
"The service they provide makes such a difference," says Cat Lindsey, director of MOAS, where animals are spayed or neutered before finding new homes. "We normally pay a veterinarian to perform the spay and neuter surgeries. Not having to pay for surgeries on these 24 animals allows us to save money for other medical treatments, supplies and general upkeep of the shelter."
Many mixed breed dogs of all shapes and sizes received surgery, from Rottweiler mixes to shepherd mixes to Jack Russell terriers.
"We were expecting a couple of the females to have a longer recovery time," Lindsey says, "but they all hopped out of the trailer when they got back to the shelter, ready to go. I could tell the students took very good care of them."
According to Lindsey, two of the dogs were adopted within a week after the Canine Club's Spay Day. Nationwide, approximately six to eight million cats and dogs enter animal shelters each year, with only half of those finding permanent homes. The latest U.S. pet ownership statistics reported in the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association 2007-2008 National Pet Owners Survey says that ten percent of dogs owned in the U.S. today were adopted from an animal shelter.
"We are proud to have our veterinary students taking an active role in helping control pet overpopulation in our area," says UGA College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Sheila W. Allen. "The Canine Club has sponsored Spay Day for the last several years. Their participation not only has helped them gain valuable experience toward becoming better prepared as veterinarians after graduation, but it also has generated a positive relationship with local shelters and the community."
"We really appreciate the work they do for us," Lindsey adds. "They do an excellent job."