NMI’s first dog sterilization a big hit among pet owners
To control the runaway dog population in the Commonwealth, Animal Balance said that 70 percent of the estimated 22,000 dogs on the islands need to be sterilized.
Emma Clifford, founder and director of Animal Balance, said that after 70 percent of the dog population is sterilized, residents will start seeing a decline in the local dog population.
“The goal is for at least 70 percent of Saipan and Rota’s dog populations to be sterilized to see significant overall population declines,” Clifford said.
The first-ever animal sterilization for dogs started yesterday at the Animal Shelter in Lower Base. The sterilization program offers spay, neuter, and zeuterin treatments.
“Today is the first day for the animal sterilization care here on Saipan and it is very exciting. This is the first time for a high volume sterilization and is a groundbreaking day for humane treatment for dogs on this island,” Clifford said.
She noted that they had already booked 30 dogs by 9:30am.
“We’ve had a great response from the public and their dogs are very healthy. We encourage other people to bring their animals to us in the next two weeks,” she said.
Clifford said they only have enough supplies for 600 dogs right now.
“However, it’s a first time campaign and everybody is getting used to the idea of sterilizing their animals and the benefits from spaying, neutering, or zeuterin,” she said.
Animal Balance plans to continue the program for the next four years to sustain the momentum.
Pet owners who avail of these treatments are asked to make a $25 donation to offset surgical supply costs. However, the program is free and no dogs will be turned away.
Spay, neuter, zeuterin
Clifford said there are three different ways to sterilize both dog genders.
Females are spayed, while male dogs have two options. They either receive an injection on their testicles called zeuterin so they can’t impregnate females and be sterile for life; or they could be castrated, which is when their testicles are removed.
Castrations take two to four minutes. Spaying takes a little longer—between six to 10 minutes—while the zeuterin treatment is quick, said Clifford.
“What takes a little more time is the paperwork and preparing the animals for surgery so the full process probably takes about two hours per animal,” she said.
There were a total of 10 people from Animal Balance who flew in from the U.S. mainland to help with the campaign.
“We have two veterinarians that specializes in doing these kinds of clinics and have a slightly different technique compared to other veterinarians and the incisions that they are making in the animal is very small and the recovery is very quick. We also have four animal technicians and the rest are animal helpers,” Clifford said.
“We will sterilize the dogs at the shelter and give them inside and outside parasite treatment and make them more beautiful so people can come in and adopt them,” she added.
Saipan Mayor’s Office Dog Program manager Spencer Marchadesch said they received a lot of donations from the community and businesses during the sterilization program. They have yet to tally the numbers, however. Just the same, Marchadesch said they thank the contributors.
“We still have money coming in and it is a great cause and they understand the importance. People have been coming in to make appointments. So far we have 200 appointments but it is expected to increase as the program continues,” Marchadesch said.
The adoption program is still in the planning process but right now there are 55 dogs in the shelter that will be sterilized this week. The adoption program is planned for Friday and Saturday.
Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang said he appreciates the help of Animal Balance, Humane Society International, and Humane Society U.S. in coordinating the program.
As for funding, Apatang said that they will be looking around for money and try to work with HSI to do some kind of fundraising. He is also planning to request the Office of Insular Affairs for a grant.
“The operation here in Lower Base is for three days and would like to encourage the community to bring their pets here for the program. We will also be holding one at Kagman Community Center as well,” he said.