Changing the Community, One Animal at a Time: Stratford’s Nutmeg Spay/Neuter ClinicOct 01, 2016 11:40PM ● By Nicole Miale
Wyatt and Selena, for adoption at Nutmeg, are a bonded pair of playful young cats
Community game changing includes making things better for our animal friends as well as for humans and the environment. Stratford’s Nutmeg Spay/Neuter Clinic has been a community leader in this regard for the past four years, providing nearly 18,000 dogs and cats with the opportunity for a healthy life without concern for reproductive issues and positively impacting the national problem of stray pet overpopulation. This is particularly important in a state like Connecticut; while much improved, the state is still working towards more effectively helping the states’ stray and feral animals.
“Most municipal shelters in Connecticut are set up primarily as dog pounds. Private rescues have to handle most cats that come through the shelters. That’s where we come in; we support the rescue efforts at a low cost. The more animals that can get done, the sooner they can be adopted and the more the rescue can do for a larger number of homeless animals,” explains Executive Director Clara McCabe.
Nutmeg celebrated its fourth anniversary in August and now averages 30 sterilizations per day. In addition to the surgeries, the clinic offers rabies and distemper vaccinations and other services only at the time of surgery. The Stratford clinic currently operates Monday through Thursday.
“The effect of the clinic on population homelessness is undeniable but difficult to quantify,” McCabe says. But the math is startling even in the abstract; if each animal Nutmeg has altered had been involved in the production of a single additional animal, that means 36,000 additional animals were prevented from potentially entering the sad cycle of homelessness and the experiencing the short, dangerous life of an animal in a feral colony or on the streets.
“We are first and foremost about population control,” she says. She says animals often suffer the same fate as young girls who are kicked out of their home by their parents because they become pregnant; an unaltered animal gets pregnant, the family can’t or doesn’t want to cope with it and mom (and babies) often wind up getting dumped either on the street or at a shelter. Nutmeg has been and hopes to continue to play a crucial role in preventing such situations before they happen.
A new initiative that Nutmeg Spay/Neuter Clinic has launched is a small but growing transport program. McCabe picks up cats and dogs at rescues located throughout the state, currently including New Milford, Meriden and Southbury, and brings them to the Stratford clinic and then returns them post-operation. The program averages 10-15 animals at a time for each transport with the largest being as high as 30 animals in one transport. The clinic handled six transports in September alone.
Not all the animals who come through Nutmeg are strays or rescues. “Referrals are mainly by word of mouth and often come from local vets,” McCabe says, which is a welcome change from the clinic’s early years. “People turn to us because of the affordability…cost is many times the reason a spay or neuter is not done,” she explains. “People put it off because of the money without realizing it is an important part of the animal’s veterinary care and well-being.” Some of the benefits of spaying and neutering can include reducing the risk of certain reproductive organ cancers, hormone-related behavioral issues and inbreeding, among other reasons.
“We’re here to help and there is no longer a reason for someone not to get their animal spayed or neutered. There are always options and we treat every animal that comes though our door as if it were our own.” says McCabe.
Nutmeg Spay/Neuter Clinic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Location: 25 Charles St, Stratford. Connect at NutmegClinic.org or 203-690-1550. See ad, page 57.