With low population density and fewer local resources, rural/ remote spay/neuter programs differ from programs serving urban areas. Keeping overhead low is the key to maintaining programs that are affordable and effective.
Rural Spay/Neuter Models
M*A*S*H clinics rely on equipment (anesthesia machines, surgery tables, etc) which is set up in a building or tent in a remote community in order to hold temporary spay neuter clinics on site. M*A*S*H clinics are run by a team that includes a local host organization and a visiting veterinary team.
M*A*S*H clinics are ideal in regions in which no local spay neuter/option exists and which is too remote for transporting animals to any other clinic within the region.
M*A*S*H is the most cost effective model to set up and run. However it is a labor intensive model that requires excellent volunteer support. Because it is not possible to have an inspection of the premises, M*A*S*H clinics are not permitted in some states.
CERTAIN STATES MAY PROHIBIT THIS MODEL
Mini clinics are a standing clinic model that requires low-overhead, part time staff and limited volunteer support. Mini clinics require low cost (or donated) space. They are ideal for a spare room at an animal shelter or an office trailer on shelter property, where animal friendly zoning and utilities are already in place.
They are ideal for populations under 100,000 people living within reasonable driving distance (50 miles). Because Mini clinics are set up to remain on site, they can be inspected so can be made compliant in places in which certain mobile programs may not operate.
Off-board Recovery Mobile Units
An “off board” recovery (OBR) mobile spay/neuter unit is a mobile unit that serves as solely as a surgical room. It is parked next to a building that is used as the waiting and recovery areas during the clinic.
This model removes limitations caused by cage space in smaller units and is far more cost effective than a conventional mobile spay/neuter unit. In some circumstances it may be a semi-permanent solution for providing spay/neuter services.
Unlike M*A*S*H the surgery area is permanently set up and temperature controlled.
Similar to M*A*S*H, an OBR involves a visiting veterinary team that works directly with a local host organization.
Certain states may prohibit this model
Private Practice Partnership
Private Practice Partnerships use a local private clinic instead of a “visiting” or stationary spay/neuter model.
This is the least labor-intensive rural model and the lowest cost start up, yet can equal or exceed the number provided by the other models (while keeping money local). This is the only spay/neuter model that requires no major fund raising in order to open.
This is a great start-up model, however due to differing priorities, or space/time constraints for the private clinic, these clinics often do not thrive.
Automatically compliant with all state laws
Albert Foot, Assiniboine Sioux Tribes story teller, explained that when all of the beings on earth were formed, the creator noted that one being on earth was pitiful. That one, man, could not catch his own prey; he used weapons to hunt and he needed fire and clothes to keep warm. The creator turned to the animals and asked that one animal step up to befriend the pitiful one. While the other animals looked away, the dog wagged his tail nervously and volunteered to be a friend to man. The creator said that the pitiful one was arrogant and would not appreciate his friendship, but the dog didn’t change his mind. The creator said that the pitiful one would leave his friend go hungry even when he himself had plenty to eat…the dog still didn’t change his mind. The creator again asked if the dog was certain, and the dog said, “I will be his friend, because you have asked that it be so.”
Charlie Hatfield, Board President, Spay FIRST! said, “There has never been any other interspecies relationship like there is between man and dog. And the fact is we owe them.”
Native American tribes increasingly engage high volume spay/neuter services to address animal overpopulation. In all states except Alaska, the state veterinary board is recognized to not exercise authority over tribal sovereignty. Visiting veterinary programs are part of the solution, and these programs have increased flexibility on reservations. The flexibility can spell success.