A concept that began to take shape last year will become a reality in 2014.
Citizens concerned about the local proliferation of unwanted puppies and kittens set out to raise funding necessary to establish an area low-cost spay/neuter clinic.
Jerry Henderson, founder and president of Miss Kitty Feline Sanctuary, spearheaded the fund drive to raise money to construct the clinic as an addition at the feline sanctuary at 425 Covington Ave.
Some $140,000 has been raised.
“It’s all from private individuals and foundations,” Henderson explained.
The name of the facility — South Georgia Low Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic — has been filed with the Thomas County clerk of court. City building requirements are being addressed.
The clinic will not be limited to cats. In addition to felines, dogs of all sizes will be neutered or spayed at the facility.
The proposed clinic contains 1,829 square feet. Another 500 square feet will be added to accommodate dogs.
Henderson said $35,000 must be raised to pay for the additional space.
Fees for spaying or neutering of a dog or cat will be low — “lower than the typical spay/neuter charge,” Henderson said.
The facility will not offer full animal medical services.
“We’re not a full-service clinic,” said Carol Jones, chairman of the Miss Kitty board of directors.
Vaccines and medical care will not be provided at the clinic. Neutered or spayed cats and dogs in need of medical care will be referred to local veterinarians.
Henderson said that in Thomas County’s 189-year history, there has never been a facility like the spay/neuter clinic.
“This problem has always been around, and it was here for anybody who wanted to do something about it,” he said.
Spaying and neutering of dogs and cats is more humane than death, Henderson added.
“It you can prevent them from being born, is that not better?” he asked.
The clinic, which will serve a 75-mile radius of Thomasville, is expected to spay or neuter 5,000 animals annually, in turn preventing births of 40,000 unwanted animals a year.
The cost to spay or neuter a cat will be about $60. The cost for dogs will be based on an animal’s weight.
The clinic’s purpose is not to compete with local veterinarians, but to neuter or spay animals on a large scale at an affordable price.
Also, Henderson said, once someone’s animal is spayed or neutered, the individual has made a financial commitment to the cat or dog.
Henderson thinks many animal owners who use clinic services will want to begin full-service medical care by a veterinarian.
“We look at this as a public service,” Henderson explained. “We hope the vets do, too.”
The clinic will be Georgia’s largest such facility south of metro Atlanta designed for spay/neuter only.
Jones said clinic representatives will go to each surrounding county and recruit volunteers to help coordinate transportation for bringing animals from that community to the clinic.
“That includes Tallahassee,” Henderson interjected.
The clinic also will serve animal welfare organizations, such as humane societies and animal rescue groups.
The facility will employ a full-time veterinarian, two vet techs and a receptionist/office manager.
An April ground-breaking is projected, with completion in midsummer.
Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820.