Image by Jessica Knowlden

M*A*S*H

M*A*S*H (mobile animal surgical hospital) clinics are ideal in areas where no local spay neuter/option exists and in which it is too remote for transporting animals to any other clinic within the region.

 

M*A*S*H refers to clinics in which equipment  is brought to a public building, such as a gymnasium, and set up in order to hold  spay neuter clinics in a community with no other spay neuter program.  This model is generally used in remote locations, including many Indian reservations or other low-population areas.  Read more… 

Two separate groups of people work together to make a M*A*S*H clinic successful.  The groups are the local host which is responsible for outreach, advertising, finding the location, supplying volunteers for check-in, cleaning and recovery, and the visiting M*A*S*H team which provides the actual veterinary supplies and services.  

“Who Brings What” to M*A*S*H Clinics:  
 
The visiting team (this includes the veterinarian and assistants) brings all medical equipment that is needed for surgery.   This includes surgery tables (surfaces that can be sterilized), anesthesia machines, equipment for sterilizing surgical instruments, disposable surgery supplies and animal handling equipment.  Read more… 
 
The local organization will supply check-in tables, supplies for the check in area and volunteer labor for all services outside of the surgery team.   Read more...

Oxygen and other supplies may be supplied by the local host or the visiting team.  
 

Responsibilities of the Local Organization: 
 
The local organization handles the moving pieces that bring the clinic together including securing an appropriate building, outreach, making appointments, and filling volunteer positions on surgery day. Read more...

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Although a M*A*S*H clinic is very labor intensive, the flexibility and economy of the model is not present in any other style of program. 

Assessing and Budgeting for M*A*S*H Programs: 

If your M*A*S*H program is starting in an area where most animals roam loose and there are, ‘community animals,’ your first clinic should be held as early in the spring as possible.  Where female animals roam loose, every single spay before dogs or cats go into estrus equals six surgeries that will not be needed just a few months later.  
   
M*A*S*H programs should provide multiple clinics per year that are timed to be as effective as possible.   The size of the clinic is based on the population being served.  Assessment and planning may include transporting animals and more.  
Read more…

 

Sample Budget for a M*A*S*H Clinic:
 
Budgeting for a M*A*S*H clinic means separating out who pays for what. 

Whether the visiting team or the host agency raises the funds, these expenses are planned ahead through an agreement between the host agency, the visiting team and possibly funders as well.    Generally, the host provides lodging and food, and the visiting team raises funds for the surgical supplies, payments to staff and travel.   Read more....
 
The Space for a M*A*S*H Clinic:
 
The building or tent in which the M*A*S*H clinic is held should be able to be heated or cooled to normal recovery room temperature, it should have moppable floors and the surgery area must be free of drafts.  
Read more...
 
Setting Up the M*A*S*H Clinic:

M*A*S*H clinic layout should support convenience and safety for animals and people.  Prep and surgery areas must be out of the footpath to the bathroom, an exit and should never be directly under a ceiling fan or vent.

 If inexperienced volunteers will be in the recovery area, that area will be within earshot of the trained surgery staff. Read more...
 

Intake:

Intake includes having the owner complete an intake form.  Information will be collected for the pre-op exam and the animals will be placed safely in cages or carriers  marked with the owners’ name (and other information) and the intake form will be signed by the owner.  Read more... 

Cat Safety Tips:

Cats present special challenges.  If they get loose they can escape quickly and climb easily, and unlike dogs, solid color or tabby cats are easily confused with one another.  The photo right shows six matching cats in a recovery area, all from different homes.  Imagine the confusion if they were not labeled!  Read more...

Helpful Equipment and Supplies:

Equipment for a M*A*S*H program should be as lightweight as possible, easily cleaned with sterilizing solution and as close to standard as possible.  If you are not working on tribal lands make sure all equipment complies with state veterinary practice act rules.   

Helpful Tips:

A M*A*S*H clinic is usually in a location that presents challenges that are not seen in a dedicated surgery room.     Looking ahead at those challenges will enable you to address them and prevent mistakes or complications. Read more...

Transporting to a M*A*S*H Clinic:
 
If your M*A*S*H clinic will serve a large area, transporting pets to the clinic from the surrounding area may be vital to accomplishing your goals.
Read more...

Organizing a transport:
 
A well organized transport enables even the most remote home to get a pet spayed or neutered.  What does it take to organize a transport to make the most of money and available surgery spaces?
Read more...

Recovery: 

Monitoring is an important task from the time an animal comes out of surgery until the time it is able to lift its’ head (becomes sternal).  Find out what volunteers need to know in the below breakdown on tasks. 

Download our printable PDF recovery instructions to keep on the table as a reference.  

Volunteer Tasks:

An organized team of volunteers is needed in order for the clinic to flow safely.  To keep volunteers on track understand each volunteer task in the clinic. Read more...
 

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M*A*S*H services are a great way to bring high volume spay neuter programs to the most remote places across the globe.  They’re flexible and can be expanded to include a higher volume at start-up and then a lower volume for maintaining success.  
 
Like all effective spay neuter programs, an assessment of the level of services needed and the logistics of reaching everyone MUST be done beforehand or animals will be missed.  Those who are overlooked will likely be those who need you the most.  

Companion animal suffering in the US is usually a symptom of poverty.  Relationships built through M*A*S*H programs can be among the most enlightening and rewarding you’ll have.   Local churches, community organizers, those fighting poverty and domestic violence can be great partners! 
 
M*A*S*H is a labor intensive model which requires a dedicated brigade of volunteers who are committed to making a difference.  



There is room for everyone who wants to help.  A volunteer who cannot come to clinics may be able to cut the disposable surgery drapes before the clinic or distribute flyers, or even transport animals from a particular community one day.  A radio host can help by having someone on a local show to speak about the benefits of spay/ neuter.  The more inclusive the program is the more impact it will have.  
 

 

M*A*S*H is about change! Let us know how it goes for you...
 

If you are interested in learning more about our programs for your community please contact us.

To support the operation of our programs please consider a donation.