Mobile clinic set up to help control animal populations

Monday, April 25, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:36 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

KANSAS CITY — Animal rights advocates are taking to the streets their efforts to spay and neuter animals in a city where they say pet overpopulation has reached a crisis level.

Spay and Neuter Kansas City, a collaborative effort of animal-welfare groups and Kansas City Animal Control started in 2002, has outfitted a 1989 Ford Econoline van with a special veterinary unit. The mobile clinic will visit problem neighborhoods and alter animals at little or no cost.

“Truth is, a lot of people can’t afford to have an animal spayed or neutered,” said Robyn Kendrick, an official with Kansas City’s neighborhood services department who is part of Spay and Neuter Kansas City. “They usually have more pressing needs for their money.”

Thousands of stray dogs and cats, including full litters of puppies and kittens, are collected on Kansas City’s streets each year only to later be euthanized at a shelter.

The van is a gift from Wayne Steckelberg, a veterinarian who worked at Kansas City Animal Control, where he euthanized 50 to 100 animals a day.

“I couldn’t stand it,” Steckelberg said at his Arrowhead Veterinary clinic. “I also knew that adoption wasn’t the answer.”

Michelle Dormady, who works at Steckelberg’s clinic and is president of Spay and Neuter Kansas City, agreed.

“For every animal that’s adopted, 10 more come in the back door,” she said.

The van needs mechanical work, but plans call for the mobile clinic to start operation next month. Steckelberg and Dormady are working to line up other veterinarians to volunteer. They hope to have enough funds to use the van at least a couple of times a month.

The idea is not new. Cities from Camden, N.J., to Los Angeles are home to such mobile spay and neutering centers.

Stray animals are a problem in every major U.S. city, but Kendrick said the van is a positive step.

“If we don’t work on the front end of this problem, animals will continue to flood the shelters,” she said.

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