2023 World Spay Day Clinics Provide Much-Needed Surgeries for Communities

May 9, 2023

Heather Schrader, RVT, MCJ
Program Manager, Student Outreach

World Spay Day recognition and the HSVMA-sponsored clinics organized for this event were back in full swing this year.  HSVMA provided grants in the amounts of $1000 - $2000 to six clinics which supported veterinary student participation.  The continued recognition of Spay/Neuter Awareness Month (February) and World Spay Day (February 28) allows veterinary professional students to not only address the overpopulation issue, but also gain important hands-on experience that will benefit them as they become professionals.  2023 marks the 13th year that HSVMA has provided these grants, and over 180 animals were spayed or neutered with our support this year

Cornell University

The Cornell VetCARES Community Cat Spay/Neuter Clinic holds free spay/neuter clinics for community cats in Ithaca and the surrounding region.  HSVMA supported their February clinic in recognition of World Spay Day and Spay/Neuter Awareness Month.  This clinic was organized and run by 41 student volunteers and supervised by college faculty.  The team was able to spay/neuter 53 cats on February 11th!  “I’m so happy that we have the opportunity to provide this service for the community and to be able to get the experience as students.  I really think it’s a win-win for everybody because it’s affordable pet care for people who may not otherwise be able to afford it and it gives us this really invaluable experience…” stated fourth year vet student, Aliyah Diamond.

Louisiana State University

HSVMA’s grant for Louisiana State SVM helped support veterinary students who were on their shelter medicine rotation in February.  For many of these students, it was their first opportunity to not only work in a shelter setting, but also perform surgery since the lifting of COVID restrictions.  Over 30 dogs and cats were altered and given vaccines, parasite preventive and microchips.  LSU vet student, Natasha Prentiss, said this of her experience in the rotation: “The spays and neuters that we did during this week were such valuable surgical experience for us as beginner surgeons. I feel much more confident in my surgical skills and I know that in the next surgery I go into, I will be providing the best care for my patient. We had some amazing patients during this experience and I know that they will be great companions in the future!”

Ohio State University and Rascal Charities, Inc.

Twelve OSU CVM students partnered with Rascal Charities, Inc. to provide free services to low-income seniors and low-cost services to community members.  In addition to surgery, the dogs and cats were also provided with vaccines and flea and tick preventative.  A total of 32 surgeries were performed: 10 dogs and 22 cats.  Dr. Michelle Gonzalez, Director of Rascal Charities, Inc., said this of the event: “We are hopeful that events like this will help provide real-world skills training for veterinary students and demonstrate the need for accessible and affordable care so that they consider assisting community service providers and high-volume sterilization shelter programs once they graduate.”

St. George's University and Grenada SPCA

St. George’s University SVM collaborated with the Grenada SPCA to bring hands-on experience to nine veterinary students participating in the school’s Shelter Medicine Selective.  These students performed 20 spay/neuter surgeries for dogs and cats living on the island.  Other services provided to the pet owners were transportation of their pet(s) to and from the clinic, rabies vaccinations, dewormer and parasite preventative.  The clinics supported clinical skills for the students and provided inspiration to pursue careers that focus on animal sheltering and access to care. "I found this opportunity to be extremely helpful with my understanding of shelter medicine. This was my first exposure to HQHV spaying and neutering, a concept that was taught right before I went to my shift at the GSPCA...Not only was this experience educational, but we helped the Grenadian community as well!," stated Emily Shin, a class of 2024 SGU veterinary student.

University of Wisconsin and Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin

The University of Wisconsin SVM’s Feline Club recruited 18 volunteer veterinary students to participate in a clinic at the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin.  This clinic gave the students much appreciated cat handling skills as well as training in all aspects of high-quality, high-volume surgery.  The surgeries were provided at low-cost to community members and a total of 40 cats were altered.  Class of 2024 vet student, April Hommerding, stated: "I couldn't have asked for a better way to celebrate World Spay Day than being able to help organize a spay day with Feline Club and a local shelter (Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin). Repeated practice of our skills is imperative to our success as future veterinarians, and Spay Days are the best opportunity for students to do this. Feline Club is especially grateful for Spay Days, as our current curriculum does not emphasize feline handling and does not provide opportunity to practice feline physical exams until our third year. Through Spay Days, we are given a unique chance to do this (and more!), and truly advocate for feline (and shelter) medicine. As President of Feline Club, it is rewarding not only to participate and practice for my own betterment, but to see the positive impact on the other students and to have the opportunity to teach and lead younger classes. Spay Days make for more confident, competent veterinarians and we couldn't be happier to celebrate this."

Western University and The Street Dog Coalition

The Western University Chapter of The Street Dog Coalition used their HSVMA grant to provide spay and neuter surgeries for pets of community members experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, homelessness.  Seven veterinary student volunteers helped alter eight pets that would otherwise not benefit from this service.  Bridget Dunn, one of the student volunteers, said this about her experience: “It’s a great opportunity for students to practice our surgery skills and gain confidence while at the same time being able to give back to the community. Given the overpopulation crisis of dogs and cats in SoCal, it’s great that we can use this grant money to spay and neuter more pets and help reduce the amount of animals that end up in the shelter.”