PARKERSBURG - After years of dreaming of a low cost spay and neuter clinic, the local humane society is close to fulfilling its dream with the groundbreaking of the S.P.O.T. Clinic Wednesday.
Maryann Hollis, executive director of the Humane Society of Parkersburg, said S.P.O.T. is an acronym for Stopping Pet Overpopulation Together. Construction on the clinic began April 1 and plans call for it to be completed around the end of July and operating in early September.
The clinic will be adjacent to the humane society shelter at 530 29th St. in Parkersburg.
Breaking ground for the Humane Society of Parkersburg’s S.P.O.T. Clinic are, from left, Kim Davis, board member; John Coffman, of Phoenix Associates, contractor of the project; Carrie Roe, president of the Humane Society of Parkersburg Board of Directors; Maryann Hollis, executive director of the Humane Society of Parkersburg, and Karen Katchur, board member. (Photo by Jeffrey Saulton)
Hollis said the new clinic is part of a larger group that will train officials how to operate the clinic.
"We're part of a group that has a model to follow called the National Spay-Neuter Response Team that is part of the Humane Alliance," she said. "They have helped open more than 100 clinics and we will be one of those."
The clinic will have a veterinarian on staff for spaying and neutering, which will allow the society to do the procedures on site rather than taking the animals to the area veterinarians, Hollis said.
"We've been taking up a lot of their appointments," she said. "It will be open to other area shelters and obviously it will be open to the public."
Hollis said the cost will be at least half the cost of having the procedure done elsewhere.
"It's for those who can't afford to have it done," she said. "We are eventually looking at bringing in a van from Harrison County to use our services. We are looking at serving an area 60 to 90 miles around here."
The humane society in Athens County has contacted the Humane Society of Parkersburg to spay and neuter its feral cat population.
"They do a trap and neuter release there and they'll be able to utilize our services," Hollis said. "Our local trap and neuter release will use it - anyone can use it."
The clinic will be a big boost for efforts to reduce the area population of unwanted animals, Hollis said.
"This is the last piece of the animal welfare puzzle in bringing down our pet overpopulation problem in this county," she said. "In other areas where they've had a clinic open they've seen intakes reduced as much as 33 percent."
Over eight to 12 years, Hollis said, that will be about a 40 percent decrease and it will help save money in caring for the unwanted pets.
Carrie Roe, president of the Humane Society of Parkersburg Board of Directors, said the clinic has been a long-time dream for the area.
"The thought of a spay and neuter clinic with an emphasis on low-cost high volume has been something we've talked about for a long time," she said. "Actually it has been a dream for a long time."
Roe said the dream started to become a reality a few years ago.
"A few years ago Mary Ann called me and said there was a man who wanted to meet with us and he wanted to talk about helping us in some way because his late sister was a lover of animals," she said. "We were excited because our washing machine had broken down the day before; we were sure this was fate."
Roe said a few days later they met with the man, Jack Watkins, who said his sister wanted to do something to help.
"We shared our washing machine need and he patiently listened to us and at the end he kind of chuckled and said 'I think we can probably help you with that. Is there anything else we can focus our attention?'"
From there Roe and Hollis shared the dream of the new clinic and he said that was something his sister would love to see done. He told them the gift from his sister's estate would be about $60,000.
"I remember thinking don't cry or jump and do a happy dance with Mary Ann in her office; he might reconsider his offer," Roe said. "We thanked him for the offer and asked him to come when it opens because it was the foundation for our dream."
The community at large realizes how important the project is, Roe said.
"We are going to save thousands of lives," she said. "We are going to save lives that will not be born; we are saving lives that will never have to die in shelters because they are unwanted and homeless and that's what we are trying to do."