Animal Spay and Neuter Clinic celebrates 20 years of success

By: Gloria Young,
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Animal Spay & Neuter
Where: 3524 KOA Way, North Auburn
Phone: (530) 889-8800
On the Web:
The clinic has launched a fundraising drive. For a $20 tax-deductible donation, participants are entered in a drawing to be held June 27. Those entering the cat drawing can win a cat tree scratching post. Those in the dog drawing, can win a year’s supply of Heart Guard Plus and a year’s supply of Frontline Plus.

When Dede Shaw co-founded the Animal Spay and Neuter Clinic in the early 1990s, she did not realize the big impact it would have.
“I knew it would be successful because it had to be,” she said. “We said we can do this and let’s make a difference out here.”
Shaw, along with co-founders Julie Anderson and Nancy McAlpin, started with $15,000 in private funding. This year, as they celebrate 20 years in operation, the staff has grown to 17 and they estimate the clinic has altered more than 200,000 dogs and cats over the years.  
“This has accounted for a dramatic decrease in the number of animals (euthanized) at the shelter or taken into rescue,” Shaw said in an email. “Fees have always been very low and many animals have been done for free.”
A requirement they had to fulfill immediately was to be licensed through a veterinarian.
“We started off with a veterinarian in Grass Valley and then another one in Grass Valley,” Shaw said. “They were with us about a year each. Then we linked up with a veterinarian from Roseville, Sandra McRoberts, and she’s held the license ever since. Currently the operating surgeons at the clinic include Drs. Nancy MacFarland, Bette Pierce and Chris Barrett. Dr. Michele Roush runs the vaccine and small outpatient wellness clinic.
The clinic was successful from the start. The first location — on Masters Court — became too small almost immediately.
“We had one front office person, one veterinary technician and one veterinarian,” she said. “Within a month we had hired a second licensed technician.”
After a year, they moved to a DeWitt Center building and remained there until 2004. By that time it again had become too small.
“We knew we needed a single building by itself and a little property around it,” Shaw said.
She sold her Old Town Auburn shop, The Catterfly, and used the funds to purchase the current site of the clinic — on KOA Way, just off Highway 49 in North Auburn.
“There’s one acre of property and plenty of parking,” she said. “We get done what we need to get done and don’t bother anyone because we don’t have any neighbors.”
The clinic gets visitors from as far away as Fairfield, Vacaville and Yuba City.
“We get a little bit of everything,” Shaw said. “We get owned animals. We get strays. We get rescue organizations.”
From the beginning, Shaw has had an aggressive grant-writing program and is grateful to the grantees, including the Placer Community Foundation, for their financial assistance to keep the clinic thriving.
Surgeries are Monday through Thursday by appointment.  
“Animals come in and spend the whole day here,” she said. “They don’t spend the night unless there are extenuating circumstances. Vaccines are on a first come-first served basis. We do surgeries 52 weeks a year. We have off Christmas, New Year’s, Thanksgiving and Fourth of July.”
The clinic performs as many as 60 to 80 cat surgeries a day, along with 10 dogs. The most in one day was 110, and “it was a hard day,” she said.
Shaw is proud of the clinic’s safety record, which she says is about 99.9 percent.
 “We have procedures in place so things are done safely,” she said. “We don’t cut corners. Every (animal) gets pain medication. They each get a monitor — an instrument that monitors heart rate and oxygen content. They are on warming pads. We want our animals to be taken care of the best we possibly can.”
The clinic also works with Placer County to keep feral cats out of the shelter.
“We’re trying to get people to trap, neuter and release,” she said. “That way, cats can get out of the shelter. We offer free spay and neuter for that. Then people can return (the animal) to the property and see that it has food and water. That saves the county and it saves the cat’s life.”
As the clinic moves toward its next milestone, the item at the top of Shaw’s wish list is more space.
“If we could add on to the building or add a trailer — that’s pretty expensive, but it is a wish list — something that would be helpful,” she said. “Or if we could expand the vaccine clinic into a different building and make the surgery area and kennel area bigger. My second wish is that (more) people would be responsible — the ones who don’t call and who don’t care, people who feed a dozen cats in their yard and don’t get the procedure done.”
The clinic has forged strong links with the community over those two decades. Suzy Bayne, with the nonprofit Angels Rescuing Critters, has been taking animals there for more than 12 years.
“We started as a feral trap project up in Weimar,” she said. “A couple of years later, I got my (nonprofit) status and I’ve been busy ever since. Without Dede and the help of the Spay and Neuter Clinic, I wouldn’t be able to stay in business and wouldn’t be able to afford the veterinary bills. …We love and cherish all (the staff). … Renee is a close friend and confidant and I appreciate having her there and available to those of us who have issues with certain animal problems.  The whole staff … has been terrific and a huge asset. The veterinarians are stellar. We couldn’t ask for more. I’m very happy to be part of it and congratulations on their 20 years. I salute them.”  
Lara Flander, who runs the Newcastle animal rescue organization Kits and Kats, agrees.
“I appreciate the fact for every animal that goes in for spay or neuter, they take time to clean their ears, clip their toenails and put flea prevention on them,” she said. “Other veterinary offices charge for those services. They are just the greatest to work with for rescue groups.”
Reach Gloria Young at