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Mobile clinic provides vet help for pets

June 28, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

FUNKSTOWN -- Less than 36 hours old, a tiny tortoise-shell kitten wasn't even able to open her eyes to see the new mobile spay/neuter clinic on display Sunday afternoon at the Picnic With Your Pooch activity at Next Dimensions Restaurant.

But her owners, Tina and Darrell Shank, vowed to return in about eight weeks when "Pooch" is old enough to actually receive the services now available through Promise Animal League Inc.

"We have named her Pooch in honor of this event," said Tina Shank as she cradled the newborn kitten.

The Shanks live in a rural area where they deal with feral cats, as well as a fair number of drop-offs. They have been working closely with the Promise Animal League to not only care for and feed the animals, but to prevent them from reproducing at will and perpetuating the problem of pet overpopulation.

"We have about 16 cats now, but we would have had about 75 if it wasn't for the league," Tina Shank said. "It's been a godsend for us."

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The mobile clinic arrived in the area about a month ago from Indiana, where it was manufactured to the league's special needs by a company called Motiv, said Star Silva, director of the league.

"We have already had four clinics in the two weeks we've been open," Silva said.

Brad Sheldon and Mary Hoffman, owners of Next Dimensions, have set aside space in the restaurant's rear parking lot on Alt. U.S. 40 for the mobile clinic. The restaurant also furnishes electricity and water when the clinic is in operation.

"People bring their animals to us or we go get them and bring them here," Silva said.

She said that the restaurant owners -- who are adoptive and foster parents for pets -- wanted to support the league's mobile clinic.

The clinic is open Thursdays and Saturdays by appointment only. Silva said the clinic has seen 25 to 30 animals each of the four days it has been open so far.

So far, Dr. Briardo Reich, a West Virginia veterinarian, does same-day surgical procedures and more, Silva said.

Once the animals are on the table and anesthetized, they get needed vaccinations, treatment for ear mites or whatever else is needed, Silva said.

"We bought the equipment piece by piece," Silva said, proudly showing off the stainless steel interior of the trailer.

The cost is $50 for spaying and a rabies vaccination; $45 for neutering and a rabies vaccination. For those unable to pay, there are some resources to help lessen the costs.

Grants from Ecolab, PetSmart and Petco can be used to defray the cost of spaying, Silva said. The rest comes from donations, as well as other sources, such as the admission fees charged Sunday at the picnic.

League members will help trap and transport animals to the clinic site, she said.

"Afterward, the pets go home with their owners," Silva said.

Ronda Tiffany of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., has been a league member for about a year.

"I've had a lot of animals and I've tried to get help before," she said. "The league really did help me."

Tiffany and other volunteers were dodging raindrops Sunday afternoon at the outdoor event, helping spread the word about the league's work.

"Now Ronda is helping us," Silva said.

The league also maintains a pet food bank, working closely with animal-control agencies in the four-state area, Silva said.

Items needed for the new trailer include a large dog scale, surgical packs, puppy pads, rubbing alcohol and peroxide, old towels, cotton swabs, bleach, cat carriers, humane cat traps and old newspapers.

For more information about the mobile spay/neuter clinic, the hours, or to make donations, go to www.promise.petfinder.org; send e-mail to star.silva@promise.org; or call 304-279-3713.

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