CIRCLEVILLE - More than 200 cats and dogs went under the knife in Circleville last week as a mobile spay and neuter clinic set up shop Aug. 16-18.
The Big Fix mobile clinic, which was a joint project hosted by No More Homeless Pets in Utah and the Best Friends Animal Society, made its first recorded stop in Piute County - it visits Richfield and Panguitch areas annually - to help control the local feral, stray and community cat populations in Piute, Garfield and southern Sevier counties, as well as provide a low cost service to some local pet owners.
"It was seriously amazing - we didn't know it would go so well," said Karen Karbach, Piute Paws Animal Rescue. "The biggest thing for me is they've never done something this big, especially not in a small area like this."
One of the biggest objectives of the Big Fix's Circleville stop was to collect as many of the local stray, feral and community cat populations in the area to help better control the growth of those colonies, Karbach said. She said they used the TNR - trap, neuter, release - method to do that, and were able to catch and release 100 cats on the first day in the area, Aug. 16.
The final day of the clinic, Thursday, Karbach said volunteers and the people with the Big Fix collected another 46 cats, four of which had previously been neutered, bringing them only a few cats shy of their week's goal of 150.
"The total was a record for a three-day period," Karbach said. "[Dr. Laura Levingood - who performed all 218 surgeries for the three-day clinic] was in there for eight hours straight that first day. She never came out for a break or anything. When she got done with those 100 cats, and they came out and told us to get them some more animals, we had to call some people [with family pets] on the list for the next day to come in early."
Janice Dankert, community cat coordinator for the Best Friends cat initiative, said this was the first attempt at a mass TNR at a non-clinical location for Best Friends, and she said she was happy with the result.
"It was a huge success," Dankert said. "I don't know any vet anywhere who would do anything like this."
On Aug. 17, more than 50 dogs and 26 cats were spayed and neutered, surpassing the expected turnout planned for the day, according to Karbach.
"They never thought we'd get that many," Karbach said. "They thought we could never fill all the appointments and they filled them and did even more."
Karbach said people from all over Piute County brought their pets in, as well as people from the South Sevier area, Panguitch and even Beaver. She said the event grew within a three-week period from a small initiative to catch and release some local cats to a massive project to help the community.
The response from the public was not only matched by the people with the Big Fix, but they rose to the challenge and even provided their services to local pet owners at a fraction of their regular surgery costs or even at no charge on a voucher program, according to Karbach.
"They broke all the rules with this to help us out," Karbach said. "Those are the people who really need it, because they can't afford otherwise to take their pets to the vet."
Kalinda Solbes, spay and neuter manager for the Big Fix clinic, said they were able to accommodate such high numbers of community cats, and family cats and dogs Aug. 17, primarily because of the use they were afforded by hosting the clinic outside of Karbach's Circleville home. She said with the addition of the controlled environment of Karbach's garage, it was easier to handle a higher volume of pets.
"It [the Big Fix mobile clinic] is a total specialty vehicle," Solbes said. "That's all we do, so we're able to offer a high quality, low cost service, and it's a great opportunity for us to come out to a community like Circleville, where there aren't readily available veterinary services and people might not otherwise fix their pets."