Laurel-area residents now have a more affordable option when it comes to caring for their pets.
Spay Now Animal Surgery opened last weekend on Van Dusen Road, kicking off its business by spaying or neutering 42 feral cats in a massive trap-neuter-return event in the Laurel area, and in conjunction with National Feral Cat Day, Tuesday, Oct. 16.
But the clinic isn't just for feral cats trapped by concerned residents and advocates. House pets are also cared for at the facility for a much lower cost than traditional veterinarian clinics.
Brad Howard, the manager of Spay Now, said the clinic's main purpose is to help address the local animal population issue, and a full range of services has not yet been determined.
"There's a very prevalent need in Maryland, a lot of low-income people hurting because of the economy who can't afford to get their pets the care they need," Howard said.
Howard runs the clinic with his wife, Kate, a veterinarian. The two also run a clinic in Grasonville on the Eastern Shore, which offers vaccinations, microchipping, heartworm testing, and feline leukemia/FIV testing, as well as surgeries like mass removal, and dental services.
Kate Howard said she had always been interested in what's known as "shelter medicine," and worked in various animal shelters as the in-house veterinarian before opening up the Eastern Shore clinic.
"This was where I thought I could do the most good," she said.
Clinics like Spay Now, Kate Howard said, help decrease the pet population so fewer animals ultimately end up in shelters, which lowers euthanasia rates.
In working in Grasonville, Kate Howard said she saw a lot of Central Maryland residents making the trek to have their pets spayed or neutered on the Eastern Shore, so she and her husband started looking at opportunities to provide services in this area.
"Laurel has a huge cat over-population problem," she said. "There's a lot of need for people in this area to get affordable spaying and neutering services."
The clinic also plans to administer a trap bank for citizens to borrow traps for TNR, and establish a small-grant fund for low-income residents wishing to participate in TNR.
Local advocates applauded the clinic's opening.
"They're providing care to animals whose owners wouldn't have been able to afford a vet otherwise," said Nadine Tolosa, an advocate with Laurel Cats. "Times are tough, people can't pay and it's the animals that suffer. These animals otherwise would never get any help."
For more information about Spay Now, go to SpayNow.org or call the clinic at 301-483-7080.