Furkids Opens Surgical Suite in Time for USA Spay Day

Posted on Tuesday, February 19th

Helps Nonprofit Organization Halt Staggering Pet Overpopulation

Atlanta, Ga. (February 19, 2008) – On February 14, Saint Christopher, Loverboy and Ham Hock received special Valentines:  they were the first three cats to be neutered at a new veterinary surgical suite located at the Furkids animal shelter on Pleasantdale Road in Gwinnett County.  Melvin Gordon, DVM and veterinary technician Mandi Beal performed the surgeries for Furkids, the nonprofit organization that maintains the largest cage-free, no kill animal shelter in Georgia.  The Furkids goal was to have its clinic operational by February 26, which is designated as USA Spay Day.  The clinic will be devoted to spaying, neutering and basic dental work.

Furkids rescues homeless animals and keeps them healthy and happy until they are adopted into permanent homes.  Its mission is to help end pet overpopulation in Georgia through sterilization, high-quality adoption and by providing valuable spay/neuter services and pet care education to people in the community.  The new in-shelter surgical suite will help Furkids more easily fulfill its mission.

Pet overpopulation is a staggering problem in metro Atlanta, and the statistics paint a grim picture.  As of 2005, in 19 county animal control shelters, 130,000 animals were impounded (SPOTsociety.org). Of the animals impounded, a mere eight percent were reclaimed and only 22 percent were adopted or transferred to rescue agencies.

“It is a tragedy that animal control operations were forced to euthanize almost 60 percent of the animals they impounded because of a lack of families in metro Atlanta willing or able to adopt them,” said Furkids executive director Samantha Shelton.  “The story is even worse in some remote counties, where as many as 90 percent of homeless animals were euthanized for lack of adoptive families.”

Furkids has approximately 400 homeless animals in its no-kill program.  Most are housed in bright, open rooms at the Furkids facility.  With this new medical facility, Furkids anticipates it will be able to neuter and spay between 750 and 1,000 animals (primarily cats) per year.

Neutering is a keystone of the organization’s program.  Furkids sterilizes all of the unaltered animals in its program before placing them in adoptive homes, providing the service to more than 750 animals last year.  In the past, Furkids utilized medical services at outside veterinary clinics, which required a complex logistical schedule of volunteers ferrying animals to the clinics and returning them to the shelter after the surgeries.

“Being able to provide this basic medical care on site helps us significantly reduce stress on the animals and lets us provide a higher quality of care, especially for post-surgical observation,” said Ms. Shelton.

Furkids will open its clinic to other reputable local animal welfare organizations. Adhering to Furkids’ healthcare standards, other organizations will be invited to schedule and utilize the surgery suite for a nominal fee.  Collaboration with reputable rescue and shelter organizations will make up 25 percent of the program.

Furkids has been raising funds for slightly more than a year to outfit the surgical suite, which includes a high-powered dual head surgical light, two operating tables, surgery packs of instruments, an autoclave, an anesthesia machine, oxygen supply and blood pressure monitor, pre and post-op cages, disposable gowns and drapes, supplies, cabinets ─ everything required to support an animal from surgical prep through recovery, including equipment to revive a creature in distress.

Major donors to the surgical suite include Atlanta’s New Leash on Life, which contributed $21,040, Atlanta Classic Cars, which contributed $10,667, and a private donor who contributed $25,260 to help Furkids staff the facility.

Dr. Gordon is a retired veterinarian who works part-time at the Furkids facility.  He is supported by three part-time vet techs.  Starting at its March 29, 2008 birthday celebration at The Pavillion of Dunwoody, Furkids will begin fund-raising toward the new goal of

$85,000 – $110,000 required to expand the facility and operate the clinic on a full-time basis.