, Muskogee, OK

April 22, 2014

Area clinic fixes thousands of pets

Spay/neuter operation staffed by volunteers

By Anita Reding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— CHECOTAH — Troy Keeter said he brought his dog Susie, a bulldog/lab mix, to the Smart Choice Spay and Neuter Clinic last week because he did not want her to have puppies. Unwanted dogs are dumped in the area where Keeter lives “all the time,” he said.

“This (clinic) is a good benefit to the public,” Keeter said.

Approximately 3,000 dogs and cats have been spayed and neutered in a little more than a year since the small, nonprofit clinic opened in March 2013.

Smart Choice Spay and Neuter Clinic is making a difference in reducing the number of unwanted dogs and cats in the area, said Director Kate Paris.

For more than a year, the clinic has been offering low-cost spay and neutering services for dogs and cats each Thursday.

An average of 55 to 65 surgeries are completed each week, and as many as 78 have been completed in a single day, Paris said.

The surgeries are offered for pets of families who have incomes of $40,000 or less. The surgeries are performed for $30, and also includes a rabies vaccination, Paris said. If the animal needs to be wormed, that will be done free of charge, and for an additional $5, the animals can receive the distemper/parvo vaccination.

The clinic was started and is being operated by volunteers.

 Anyone from area municipalities is welcome to make an appointment and take their dogs and cats to the clinic on Thursdays.

Each Thursday, dogs and cats can be taken to the clinic between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.

“We do that to make it convenient for people that work,” Paris said. “They can drop them off before work.”

Pet owners are contacted once the surgery is completed, and they can pick them up anytime during the day, or they may leave them until they get off work. Volunteers are at the clinic as late as 7 p.m. or later each Thursday.

Volunteers with Checotah (Happy Paws) Animal Shelter, which has been in operation at its current location for about three years, raised the funds necessary to construct the building where the animals are spayed and neutered. Happy Paws Shelter is next door to the clinic, and the two nonprofit organizations work together, Paris said.

Surgeries are completed each Thursday by Dr. Brady Robbins of Claremore. He is assisted by lab techs Laura Hawley and Jared Johnson.

The low expense at the clinic makes it possible for more animals to be spayed and neutered, Paris said. Normal expenses for spaying and neutering would be much higher, from $85 to well over $100, depending on the size of the dog.

“Many people who bring them in have rescued these dogs — multiple dogs. Others are bringing in feral (wild) cats. They are trapping them and bringing them in — several at a time. Then, they are turned back out,” she said.

But the low cost does not cover all of the expenses of the services, and volunteers conduct a variety of fundraisers and have applied and received grants. They also rely on donations. Some are one-time gifts, and others are on a monthly basis, Paris said.

“That’s how we run this clinic,” she said.

Pet overpopulation is a crisis in Oklahoma, especially out in the counties, where unwanted dogs and cats have been dumped, she said.

“This will stop a lot of it,” she said. “People just have to get their animals spayed or neutered. And we’re giving them the opportunity by having a low cost. It’s affordable for everybody.”

Paris said she is seeing fewer puppies in the Checotah area, but understands that it normally takes two to three years for a low-cost spay and neuter clinic to make a dent in the animal population in the area.

“That’s what I’m hoping for,” she said.

Reach Anita Reding at (918) 684-2903 or

If you go

WHAT: Smart Choice Spay and Neuter Clinic.

WHERE: 2282 N. Broadway, Checotah.

WHEN: Thursdays, by appointment.

COST: $30, for spay or neuter of dogs and cats. Service also includes rabies vaccination.