Can Spay / Neuter clinics be low cost and privately owned?

So much debate over the non-profit spay neuter clinic issues! Do you ever wonder if you can really provide high quality spay / neuter services at low cost?

Here's a perspective from someone who is doing just that.

 

My name is Jacob Boyer, veterinarian and owner of SpayXperts Spay Neuter Veterinary Clinic in Norman, Oklahoma, the only for profit spay neuter clinic according to Google. I also live in a state where spay neuter clinics are in heated debate. Since spay neuter is my business, I follow any news that circulates locally and nationally via Google alerts. I just wanted the board to know, the world is watching, and Alabama is likely to set a precedent for other states.

A unique perspective:

I graduated veterinary school in 2005 and worked in a full service veterinary practice for three years before taking a job with a nonprofit spay neuter clinic in 2008. I thought I was using my professional skills to serve a good cause. The non-veterinarian manager continuously pressured me to do a volume of surgeries that I believed compromised my ability to examine and sufficiently oversee the care of each patient. In December 2009, despite the fact that I excelled at my job, I was fired without explanation. I spent the next several months as a relief veterinarian (spay neuter surgeon) at the Oklahoma City Shelter and three other nonprofit owned spay neuter clinics in and around Oklahoma City. I am speaking from first hand experience when I say, the standard of care at each of the clinics where I worked is not the same as the standard of care that would be considered acceptable for a full service veterinary clinic. That is the issue, not the money or competition. Non-veterinarian owners or managers do not have the professional knowledge to ensure the patient's care is the primary objective, and they are certainly not bound by the same oath.

In January of 2010, the clinic that fired me was forced to close its doors, and in May of 2010, The Lord gave me an opportunity to purchase their equipment and re-open the spay neuter clinic. With new standards of care, our clinic has grown rapidly and is proving that we don't have to compromise standards of care to run a spay neuter clinic. We have an open invitation to any veterinarian to come and see the way we operate.

Just a few of the ways we are different from other spay neuter clinics:

  • The veterinarian is present at check-in and meets each client to answer questions they might have;
  • The veterinarian performs a hands-on examination of every patient, if possible, prior to surgery;
  • Since the veterinarian has knowledge of the attitude and physical condition of the patients, anesthetic protocol is adjusted as needed;
  • Catheters are placed in every dog and ET tubes in every cat;
  • Fluid therapy is given to those who have significant fluid loss;
  • A combination of 2-3 different pain medications is given and prescriptions sent home with clients as needed;
  • Anesthesia and surgery time is minimized (patients don't lie on the next surgery table waiting for 10 minutes with no supervision);
  • Heat support is provided during surgery and recovery;
  • Every patient is monitored with electronic monitors and experienced surgery assistants, not volunteers;
  • Standard autoclave sterilization is used;
  • The surgeon performs a sterile hand/arm scrub and wears full attire, re-gloving for each surgery.

I am sure I have left something out, but the point is, this is the standard of care, why should we condone less?

And the results: we lost one feral cat in 2012 which could not be examined prior to surgery. Upon necropsy, he had a cardiomyopathy that severely impaired his ability to deal with stress.

There is another way:

Proponents of these clinics paint the picture of the state veterinary board closing these clinics and causing animal suffering. I would bet the board doesn't want to close these clinics, but would much rather these clinics comply with the state's practice act and raise their standards of care. Why don't these clinics contract with a veterinarian to operate the clinic? They could retain their assets and focus on fulfilling the role that nonprofit organizations are supposed to fill: educating the public, operating transport systems, and raising money to subsidize surgery costs so that low income citizens can afford the expertise of veterinarians.

When non-veterinarians own veterinary businesses, there is a lack of perspective that inevitably leads to a conflict of interest. It is ironic to me that those who speak out for animal welfare unknowing increase the risk for the individual while trying to save the masses.

I have intended to encourage the board with these words. I sincerely thank you for serving. May you all be rewarded according to your righteousness.

Kind Regards,

Jacob Boyer, DVM