A Mini-clinic is a stationary spay/neuter clinic that relies on low-cost or donated space, veterinary and staff that are available on a per diem basis and do not expect full-time employment (often a relief veterinarian), combined with a limited amount of volunteer labor.
A Mini-clinic requires a dedicated space because equipment remain on site. Through low overhead a mini-clinic becomes self sustaining when running far fewer days per month than a large scale clinic. A Mini-Clinic’s sustainability is based on a daily balance between costs and incoming fees (program fees), and the number of operating days depends solely on the level of demand. It is the only stationary clinic model that may be adapted for any population size.
Because it is financially self-sustaining at low numbers, and can ramp up to meet growing demand, it is ideal for serving low population areas.
Because the equipment is left in place instead of being moved (as in a mobile unit program), Mini-clinic is the least labor intensive model for serving low population communities.
“Low cost for low income” is the Mini-clinic motto. A discount on prices at a local full service clinic does not make the service affordable to the poor. Sustainability at low cost is key to creating change. For minimum wage households, spay/neuter must remain under $50 per pet.
- Mini-clinics operate a limited number of days that are not increased until the demand exceeds the capacity. This means that if four days a month are not filled, the clinic does not increase to six or eight days. Most of the costs are incurred by the day (veterinarian and staff), so services can grow or cut back in response to demand. This is why overhead must remain low.
- Mini-clinic is ideal for areas with at least 25,000 to 50,000 people within driving distance. This model can serve a single county or several low population counties.
- Mini-clinic is meant for low to moderate income working households and where cost is the single greatest barrier to responsible pet ownership, but one in which most people anticipate paying for the service. Planning to provide free services while relying on grants is a poor strategy.
- At least 300 sq ft of space for surgery and prep areas is best. Additional room is needed for the holding cages (more is better). In a very small space, intake and release will be conducted outside of the unit, as is done with many urban programs that rely on a self-contained mobile unit.
- A veterinarian, technician (or lead assistant) and a second assistant who are able to work part-time.
- The same equipment as any other spay/neuter program requires but you can be creative and save money on tables, sterilizers and other items.
- A volunteer or paid staff person who schedules clients and is present for check-in.
- Compliance with the same regulations as any veterinary program in the state.
- In an unused room at a shelter,
- In a mobile office trailer located on the property of a public or non-profit shelter,
- In a church basement,
- Vacant commercial space or space in which zoning will not present concerns.
A mobile office trailer is a good choice. A 10’X 60’ unit gets you started with room to spare. Whether using a mobile office trailer that is placed on the property of an animal shelter, or a room inside the animal shelter, a public site provides access to municipal utilities and zoning that is already approved for animals (however precautions must be taken to avoid allowing pets to come into areas with unvaccinated dogs and cats).
A mobile office trailer is far more suited than a re-purposed mobile home that has carpet, multiple bathrooms and a kitchen. However, a donated mobile home may get you into a workable space while saving money.