A new spay and neuter program that could offer savings to local residents is being offered through the Highland County Humane Society.
The Rascal Unit is mobile veterinary hospital based in Dublin that is visiting the Highland County North Joint Fire and Ambulance District in Leesburg every other month.
Barb Zumwalde, a Highland County Humane Society board member, said the Rascal Unit made its first visit to Leesburg on Jan. 25 and 37 dogs and cats were spayed or neutered. She said the unit’s next visit to Leesburg will be on March 22.
The cost is $47 for female cats and $57 for male cats. Dogs under 20 pounds are $62 and the price increases with the weight of the animal. Zumwalde said she’s not sure of the cost at other locations, but that one local Humane Society customer said it was going to cost $142 to have their dog sterilized elsewhere.
According to the website Pet MD, while the cost to spay a cat varies, the operation typically runs from $300 to $500 for a female cat and around $200 for a male when it’s done at a private, full-service veterinary practice.
The Rascal Unit’s services are open to anyone.
“We’re trying to push for Highland County because the way our community is, we’re not in the best shape economically,” Zumwalde said. “But we’ll accept people from other areas, too.”
Anyone wanting to take advantage of the service has to first call the Highland County Humane Society Animal Shelter at 937-393-2110 and set up an appointment. It’s open every day except Wednesday from noon to 5 p.m. Payment is made ahead of time at the shelter, located at 9331 SR 124, east of Hillsboro, and the shelter has a scale where dogs can be weighed to determine the accurate price.
Then on the appointed day pet owners can drop their animals off at the Leesburg fire station at 8 a.m. and come back and pick them up later. Zumwalde said that once the procedure is finished, shelter staff and Humane Society board members wait with the animals until they are picked up. She said the time they can be picked up varies according to the number of animals being spayed or neutered and where they fall on the procedure list.
The procedures are done inside the Rascal Unit vehicle, which resembles a recreational vehicle and has a surgical room, pre-op room and cages.
The most animals the Rascal Unit can spay or neuter in a single day is 50, Zumwalde said.
She said the Leesburg location was selected because the animal shelter does not have adequate parking space.
“At times we find boxes of kittens sitting at the animal shelter gate when the girls come to work, or boxes of puppies, or even dogs that are left there and are pregnant and deliver a week or two after they arrive,” Zumwalde said. “We don’t always have enough room for them and we’re hoping this is a way to eliminate some of that. We’d like to be able to fund it ourselves, but since we rely totally on donations we don’t have the funds for that, so this is the next best thing.”
The animal shelter and Samaritan Outreach Services are partnering on the spay/neuter project. Zumwalde said Samaritan sometimes provides food for its client’s pets and that the Humane Society supplies some of that food. But, to continue to receive pet food, clients are now being required to show proof that their animals have been spayed or neutered.
Zumwalde also said the Humane Society is hosting a pet adoption event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11 at TSC in Hillsboro.
According to www.RascalUnit.com, “The Rascal Unit consists of two mobile veterinary hospitals based in Dublin, Ohio. We travel throughout the state with the help of local humane organizations, pounds and shelters to bring affordable pet sterilization and routine veterinary care to individuals in need. The Rascal Unit also teams up with local humane organizations and animal control officers to provide emergency and medical care during animal cruelty and neglect investigations.”
“We’re very excited and just hoping it continues to be a success, and we think it will because we already have people asking about the March date,” Zumwalde said.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.