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Expansion of Spay/Neuter Services
Emancipet is the only nonprofit in Austin that is a 100 percent spay/neuter clinic providing low-cost surgeries from both mobile and stationary animal hospitals. Since 1999, over 35,000 animals have been sterilized at Emancipet’s mobile hospital, while the organization has prevented births and subsequent unnecessary deaths of at least 537,500 dogs and cats at the stationary hospital. Emanicipet’s goal is to make Austin the nation’s second “no kill” city in the United States by 2008 by expanding its spay/neuter service capabilities.
The Impact Austin grant will complete the outfitting of one additional surgical unit at their stationary hospital. It will also improve access to the facility and its services through the use of two additional transport vehicles that pick up and return pets to targeted neighborhoods. This will allow the organization to increase the number of spay/neuter surgeries it performs each year by 7,500, resulting in fewer euthanizations of animals.
Emancipet purchased two cargo vans and put them into operation by August 2006. They opened the third surgery room, the Impact Austin Surgery Suite, in October 2006. In the twelve months after receiving the grant (August 2006 through July 2007), Emancipet performed 19,219 spay/neuter surgeries, an increase of 49% over the previous twelve months.
During 2007, the new executive director, Amy Mills, along with Emancipet’s ten new board members, drew two important conclusions from their performance tracking system. First, admissions were consistently higher at mobile clinics than at stationary ones. Second, the most effective way to reduce the number of animals euthanized at shelters was to shift the emphasis away from the sheer quantity performed and instead target the particular categories of pets that were most frequently put down (such as cats in general, large dogs, and breeds such as pit bulls, rottweilers, chows, shepherds, and labs).
As a result, Emancipet redirected the use of their new vans into “MASH”-style units, loading them with equipment, supplies, and staff to do a day of surgery in remote locations. This highly efficient approach enabled the neutering of more animals per day per vehicle (25 per day as a transport vehicle vs. up to 40 as a MASH unit) and access to animals in the targeted categories that were unlikely to be brought to the Emancipet headquarters.
In the spring of 2009, the Emancipet headquarters on Levander Loop had to be demolished to make room for the City of Austin’s new animal shelter. For its new facility, Emancipet purchased and renovated two modular buildings which are collocated with the new shelter (thanks to a free lease provided by the City), reutilizing the equipment purchased for the original Impact Austin Surgery Suite.
In summary, although Emancipet did not reach the goal of making Austin a No Kill city by 2008, the intake rate of animals at the Town Lake Animal Center is dramatically down, especially for cats, one of the targeted categories of animals. In January 2009, Town Lake Animal Center did not euthanize a single adoptable cat. Emancipet anticipates that by the organization’s tenth anniversary in June 2009, they will have performed 100,000 free/low cost spay/neuter surgeries which they could not have done without Impact Austin’s help.