Elaine Adair on MS SPAN, Big Fix Clinic

Elaine Adair is the founder and president of Mississippi Spay and Neuter (MS SPAN). MS SPAN is a nonprofit that offers low cost spay and neuter surgeries for dogs and cats. She was graduated from the University of Colorado with a Bachelor’s degree in distributive studies: communication, theatre, English and psychology and from Southern College of Technology in Georgia with a master’s degree in technical and professional communication. She recently spoke with Sun reporter Nikki Rowell about the work MS SPAN is doing in the state.

 

How did you first get Mississippi Spay and Neuter going?

“Mississippi Spay and Neuter started as a volunteer organization, running a mobile spay and neuter clinic and spay and neuter voucher program. Services were provided all over the state of Mississippi to areas where affordable services were not available. After Hurricane Katrina, national animal welfare organizations approached MS SPAN offering funding to open a high volume spay and neuter clinic in Jackson.  PetSmart Charities, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States made financial contributions to the cause.”

 

 How long has it been operating?

“MS SPAN has been in operation since 2005. And in 2008, we opened the Big Fix Clinic, which is the only non-profit, high-volume, low-cost spay and neuter clinic, serving central Mississippi.”

 

How many procedures has the organization been able to perform?

“In 10 years, the clinic has performed over 50,000 surgeries. Also, MS SPAN has subsidized another 32,767 surgeries through the voucher program, the Little Fix Rig and the Big Fix Rig, which was decommissioned when the Big Fix Clinic was opened in 2008.”

 

Where do the funds for the clinic come from?

“Because we provide spay and neuter surgeries to any pet owner who walks through our doors, regardless of their ability to pay, we have to raise additional revenue to subsidize these affordable co-pays. Our funding comes from donations, fundraising events and grants, as well as revenue raised from the sale of goods at the Big Thrift, which is a joint venture with Mississippi Animal Rescue League (MARL).”

 

 What areas does the clinic service?

“In theory, we could serve all 82 Mississippi counties, if they choose to bring their pets and strays to the Big Fix Clinic but the distance is a barrier. So, we try to attract pet owners who live within a 90-mile radius and who are willing to drive to one of our three transport locations. The Big Fix Clinic provides free transportation to pet owners living in and around Lauderdale, Pike and Warren counties, and we have even helped Louisiana and Alabama residents who are willing to bring their pets to our pick up locations in Vicksburg or Meridian.”

 

How many animals are spayed/neutered each year?

“Our goal is to spay or neuter 5,000 dogs and cats every year and we reached that milestone in 2014. This year we are getting close to reaching our goal of 6,000 surgeries.”  

 

How does this help the number of stray animals or animals in shelters?

“The 50,000 spay and neuter surgeries done at the Big Fix Clinic has produced a 40 percent decline in animal intake at Mississippi Animal Rescue League (MARL). When we first arrived on the scene, 17,000 dogs and cats passed through the doors of MARL. This year that number will be less than 10,000, which means there will be even fewer animals being euthanized in the shelter.

As the intake numbers dwindle, then shelters and rescues might actually be able to spend less time ‘treading water,’ and be able to dedicate more time to their programs and animals in their care, increasing their impact as well.

A pair of cats and their offspring can produce 420,000 cats in seven years. And a pair of dogs and their puppies can produce 67,000 dogs in six years. So, saying that we’ve certainly prevented millions of litters of puppies and kittens would be conservative.”

 

Why do you feel that this is an important service?

“A huge part of the solution to ending pet overpopulation is to increase spay and neuter and more importantly to make sure that everyone has access to such services, regardless of their financial status. We consistently find that people will fix their pets when they have access to low-cost options, which will guarantee that thousands more will be saved through our spay and neuter and wellness services, preventing the needless suffering and death that is caused by overpopulation and lack of care.

For many pet owners, being able to have their pets fixed at our affordable rates makes it possible for them to keep them because they don’t have to worry about caring for or finding homes for all of those unwanted litters. We believe that when the value of animals is elevated in our communities, we achieve better outcomes for them, which include living longer, healthier, happier lives.

Science also supports the notion that pets can have an astoundingly positive effect on symptoms of depression and feelings of loneliness. This is especially important for the elderly and aging populations that we often serve at our clinic. Also, there are numerous health and behavioral benefits of sterilizing dogs and cats. In addition, fixed pets are less likely to be aggressive, mark their territory and fight or roam. Spaying and neutering also reduces the onset of some diseases, even various forms of cancer.”