The Boonie Babies’ Spay and Neuter Clinic, in partnership with the Saipan Mayor’s Office, entered its third week of service since its opening last Aug. 18.
By mid-September, it expects to serve more than 600 pets at the Saipan Mayor’s Office Multifunctional Animal Shelter in As Perdido.
In an interview with Saipan Tribune, field supervisor Lee Mark Deleon Guererro and Boonie Babies’ co-founder Grace Keilbach remarked that an estimated 30-37 animals were brought in daily and served.
Deleon Guererro said that so far, they’ve not experienced any challenges and it has been smooth sailing from the start due to the team following a set workflow and scheduling.
Dr. Kris Anderson performs the surgical operations for both cats and dogs, which usually lasts 5-10 minutes for male animals, with procedures on male cats sometimes lasting as short as two minutes. Procedures for female animals are longer with a range of about 15-45 minutes depending whether or not the female is pregnant. When it comes to pricing, owners pay $37 for either spay or neuter, and the price stays the same for both cats and dogs, regardless of the animal’s gender.
When it comes to cost, Saipan Mayor David Apatang contributed to help as well. “The mayor is actually paying 50%,” Deleon Guerrero noted.
He said that the original asking price was supposed to be $75, but because of the mayor’s contribution, the price was lowered to a $37 charge, making the prices more feasible for pet owners. “It’s really a great help to our community,” he said, adding that if such services could continue, it would greatly benefit the community, and would especially help to regulate the overpopulation of strays on the island.
“We are thankful to the mayor for giving us the space, and it’s just been incredible…” Keilbach said
With a handful of Boonie Babies volunteers, the mayor’s dog shelter officers, and this week, a team of visiting specialists from Guam with the Boonie Flight Project; the whole project has allowed connections to be formed with other pet services in the neighboring island of Guam, and support efforts made on each other island.
Founders of the Boonie Flight Project in Guam, Kelsey Graupner and Lauren Cabrera, also contributed their time, skill, and support of the clinic on Saipan, laboring together with volunteers. Cabrera is a resident of Saipan as well.
Speaking on behalf of the Boonie Flight Project, Stephanie Musick explained some background information before the project
“The Boonie Flight Project just helped the SNIP Clinic over on Guam do their first community clinic, and when we heard that Saipan was planning their own clinic with one of our co-founders Lauren Cabrera, we wanted to run over here as fast as possible to keep the momentum going. We’ve been really excited to see all of these spay and neuter initiatives here in the Micronesian Islands because it has been a service so readily needed, and we have been very fortunate and lucky to have these visiting veterinarians eager and willing to come out here and spend time on our beautiful island.” said Musick.
The team just flew in from Guam on Saturday, and Musick said they have been experiencing the joys of Saipan, while working hard.
“The community has been so welcoming to us being here, and they’re eager to bring in their pets, and we are so willing and ready to serve them…We can’t wait to come back.”
Keilbach remarked on the project “Things are going great. We are so excited to finally have the clinic up and running, this is something we have been working for, for a few years, this has kind of been a dream of ours, now seeing it in actual reality is really surreal. It’s just amazing how many dogs we have been able to help, and this is just the start of what we’re hoping to do.”
The spay and neuter team will also be heading to Tinian on Sept. 10 and performing surgeries on Sept. 11 and 12, in partnership with Saipan Cares for Animals’ branch on Tinian.
“We are already in the process of recruiting more vets to come when this vet leaves, and we are hoping to get continuous rotation, and we really want to branch out to Tinian and Rota more once we get more established.” Keilbach said
Along with the clinic, Boonie Babies is also working on making an easier and cheaper way for pets to be shipped overseas. They are currently trying to petition United Airlines, with the purpose of sending dogs off Saipan to adoption families overseas. Without the help of United, the cost of shipping a pet overseas through a private pet agency would cost around $6,000. In an earlier interview, Aria Keilbach added that such a relationship with United will not only benefit Boonie Babies’ dog adoption project, but would also help the community, by helping residents who seek to relocate be able to bring their pets with them, at a reasonable price.
Boonie Babies has created a petition to United, and have collected nearly 16,000 signatures.
Grace Keilbach added “Boonie Babies’ goal is not to be a shelter on island, but to save the babies, by that I mean, get the boonie dogs off-island, and stop the stray population; so we are able to do that with our spay and neuter clinic. This is a great step in the right direction, but we are still not able to relocate those dogs to new adopters in the States and that’s what we are really asking of United, because until United decides to open up that stage of travel, we have no way of getting dogs off island, and families here have no ways of getting dogs off island. If you are moving, unfortunately the only option is to leave your animals behind.”
As of now, United has not responded to the Keilbach sisters.