Shelter could open spay clinic

Published 12:00 pm Friday, May 13, 2016

When the Oxford-Lafayette County Humane Society built its new shelter on McElroy Drive five years ago, a room was added to the 3,600-square-foot building with hopes that it would one day be home to the shelter’s own spay and neuter clinic.

A local supporter who recently died gifted the shelter $600,000 in his will, and now that dream could soon become a reality.

The Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine currently provides low-cost spaying and neutering at the shelter. A team of students under the direction of a veterinarian provide the service several times throughout the year; however, Antonow said the humane society wants to provide the service itself.

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During a work session of the Oxford Board of Aldermen Thursday, Alderman Janice Antonow said the shelter has earmarked the donation for a new clinic.

“They’d like to convert that empty room to serve as a low-cost spay and neuter clinic,” she told the board. “Their board is planning to come before us in June to present their plans.”

The donation would cover the start-up costs,

including equipment and hiring a vet to perform the services.

“What happens when that money runs out?” Alderwoman Robyn Tannehill asked of the $600,000.

Antonow said revenue from the surgeries would continue to fund the program.

City Attorney Pope Mallette said the Mississippi Attorney General issued an opinion several years ago that said the shelter could offer services that go along with the shelter’s mission of reducing unwanted stray animals, which includes spaying and neutering.

“That’s part of animal control duties,” he said. “They could not provide other veterinarian services” to the public.

Mallette said he believes the clinic could also provide rabies vaccinations, as it does currently, as it falls under the umbrella of animal control services.

Even though the humane society is a nonprofit, since the city owns the building the shelter is in, aldermen could require its board to advertise for the veterinarian position and take the lowest and best bid.

Antonow said a representative from the state school said they would support the shelter having its own clinic and would come in for more complicated cases. Vouchers to visit local veterinarians for follow-up examinations after the animal is spayed or neutered also could be offered.

“That way, they are introducing the pet owner to a local vet and establishing a relationship with them,” she said.

Aldermen took no action Thursday as a formal proposal is not ready and shelter representatives were not at the Thursday meeting.

“The clinic will do spays and neuters only with no wellness care at all,” said board president Cyd Dunlap. “Pet overpopulation is the No. 1 factor in healthy animals being euthanized. This clinic will allow us to reduce the number of puppies and kittens being born, thereby reducing our population at the shelter. Our main priority is spaying and neutering.”