Sterilization of pets is key to community veterinary welfare. Populations of unwanted dogs and cats are not something we can rest easy about. Apart from the inevitable suffering of these animals, which no civilized peoples wish to witness, there is the risk of disease transmission in uncared for populations.
Cluny Animal Trust places sterilization campaigns high on their list of priorities. It is not only a service to the indigent community pet owners, but also a service to the wider communities as a whole, and contributes to a more compassionate animal ethic generally.
Since the recent arrival of the Mobile Theatre, Cluny Animal Trust has carried out several sterilization clinics for cats and dogs. The most recent one was in Bethlehem this last Saturday, 1 August.
The idea is to carry out as many sterilizations as is practicable in one day, even if it means starting very early and finishing late. The emphasis is on numbers of sterilizations per day, and the reason for this is that the overhead costs of running the Mobile Theatre can be spread over a greater number of patients, thus reducing the overall cost of sterilizations per patient to the minimum.
A key operating concern of the Trust is funding, all of which comes from donations, monthly pledges, sponsorships and fundraising events. There are no other sources from which funding comes. With the Mobile Theatre in operation now, direct and overhead costs have increased and, without significant increases in new funding, there will inevitably come a time when the Trust’s work will suffer the impact of this.
At present the Board of Trustees is reviewing the matter of fundraising. In addition to this, the Trustees are reviewing a fee structure for sterilization clinics. Community veterinary welfare does not necessarily come without cost to the client. The emphasis in regard to fees in the welfare arena is not one of “free”, but rather one of “affordability”.
But “affordability” is a vague concept, especially in indigent communities, where means testing can be near impossible. Cluny Animal Trust is currently evaluating this grey area in order to find ways to structure client fees at clinics that will reflect the spending capabilities of the clients who attend.
The clinic held in Bethlehem this last Saturday highlighted the need for a properly planned and controlled client means testing process. The clinic was held in conjunction with the Bethlehem SPCA, who were the providers of the client list and who were required to screen each client in advance to ensure compliance with prearranged income earning parameters. It turned out that this had not been done properly and a number of clients on the list were clearly able to pay private veterinary fees. These clients were turned away by Cluny Animal Trust, resulting in the number of sterilizations that day being significantly less than the optimum target number.
Apart from the inconvenience of this, it was disappointing that persons of adequate means and able to afford private veterinary fees were willing to attempt to abuse a welfare service funded by charity.
Cluny Animal Trust once again thanks all donors and supporters of the Trust. If you wish to make a donation, or if you wish to find out more about the Trust, please see the details below:
Article by Mary Walker
Cluny Animal Trust