Clinic offers services to low-income pet owners

Cats and Dogs at the Centeral Texas Human Cosiety waiting for a new home or for the end. August 28, 2013  Robby Hirst | Lariat Photographer
Cats and Dogs at the Centeral Texas Human Cosiety waiting for a new home or for the end. August 28, 2013
Robby Hirst | Lariat Photographer
By Trey Gregory

Free neutering and spaying services are now available for low-income cat and dog owners who live in the Waco area.

On Oct. 1, the Waco City Council approved Resolution 2013-585, which authorizes the city of Waco to reimburse the Animal Birth Control Clinic up to $100,000 for neutering and spaying services provided to low-income families. The service will cost the city an average of about $55 per animal.

“It is available until funds are exhausted,” said Carrie Kuehl, executive director of the Animal Birth Control Clinic.

To qualify, an applicant must be a Waco citizen and eligible for Medicaid disability or food stamps. Applicants should bring their city of Waco water bill and proof of government assistance to the clinic for services. “We have used this criteria for about eight years, so we know it works,” Kuehl said.

She said the city will only pay for the neutering and spaying. The owner must pay for any other services that the clinic provides. “This is all about basic pet responsibility,” Kuehl said.

She said it is beneficial for the owner to pay for other services like immunizations, because it teaches animal owners that they are responsible for their pets.

“I think this is going to be important for a lot of people, especially elderly people,” City Councilwoman Toni Herbert said.

Kuehl said that on Sept. 1, the ABC clinic also started another program that offers free spays and neuters, in addition to the rabies vaccine, exclusively to cats. There are no income restrictions for this program, but the owner must provide proof that they live in the 76708 zip code.

PetSmart Charities provided a $102,000 two-year grant to fund the free spay and neuter for cats. Kuehl said these services are also available until funds are exhausted.

The ABC clinic, located at 3238 Clay Ave., also provides flea control services, immunizations, heartworm prevention, microchipping, nail trims and some blood tests.

Services at the Animal Birth Control Clinic are available to anyone. However, there is a small fee for anyone who doesn’t qualify for the special programs. Prices to spay or neuter a cat range from $25-$45 and prices to spay or neuter a dog range from $45-$75. Prices for all services are available on the ABC clinic’s website

The ABC clinic is a nonprofit organization that relies heavily on donations. Kuehl said the Animal Birth Control clinic couldn’t provide discounted services without donations from the community.

Donations to the clinic can be made online at the clinic’s website or in person at the clinic. The clinic also offers volunteer opportunities for anyone who is interested, according to the website.

Kuehl said she offers a free 15-minute tour of the ABC clinic to anyone who drops off a donation in person. “You actually get to see the surgeries,” she said.

Kuehl said it is important for the ABC clinic to offer tours because the clinic wants to be transparent; it wants people to see what their donations are paying for.

Kuehl said the ABC clinic also offers tours to the local schools in order to expose the students to science and medicine.