THUNDER BAY - After being closed for nearly nine months, the low-cost spay and neuter clinic at the Thunder Bay District Humane Society is once again accepting appointments but space is limited and the demand is soaring.
“The demand for the spay neuter clinic has been overwhelming,” said Shawna Beaulieu, executive director of the Thunder Bay District Humane Society.
“We’ve had a lot of people going online trying to book appointments. Unfortunately, due to COVID restrictions, our vet only working part time, she is still on partial maternity leave and having a brand new clinic team, we are not able to accommodate as many appointments as we used to. But we hope to be able to increase the number of appointments we are doing in March.”
The clinic has not been operating since last March due in part to COVID-19 and the veterinarian being on maternity leave. Before the pandemic, the clinic could accommodate 20 to 30 appointments four days a week, but it is now operating three days a week and can accept 10 appointments.
COVID-19 restrictions also limit the number of animals that can go through the clinic, including only taking in one animal at a time and contactless drop-off, which can take more time.
“It’s been working really well,” Beaulieu said. “It’s had a couple hiccups and we do expect that. But so far so good.”
But the demand for the low-cost spay and neuter clinic is still very high. According to Beaulieu, when appointments opened last week online, the spots filled up within 30 seconds.
“We just encourage people to keep an eye on our social media to see when we will be increasing appointments and go on our websites on Mondays at 5 p.m. to try and make an appointment,” she said.
There also appears to be an increase in the demand for adoptions, with animals that come into the shelter quickly finding a new home.
Beaulieu said the work of the clinic team has helped a lot and applications for adoptions continue to come in.
The number of animals surrendered has been consistent and it tends to fluctuate throughout the year.
There was a short period earlier this month when no animals were available for adoption but that was only because animals in the shelter were awaiting medical care from the vet.
“That has changed. We just took in 22 cats yesterday and we do have some more animals coming in within the next few weeks so we are just firming things up with those,” Beaulieu said.
“They are not going into long-term foster. It’s just a matter of our clinic team getting them spayed, neutered, vet checked, and us putting them up for adoption. So they should be ready we anticipate this week.”
The extended lockdown in Ontario due to COVID-19 has not had a major impact on the operations at the Humane Society because Beaulieu said they have been following COVID protocols since the spring.
In the event of further restrictions, Beaulieu said staff are not too worried because supports are in place to care for the animals.
“We will always go by the ministries recommendations as to what we should be doing,” she said. “We have that strong support of foster homes, so if we had to put our adoption program on hold, we would most likely move out animals into foster homes.”
To book an appointment online for the low-cost spay and neuter clinic, visit the Thunder Bay District Humane Society website on Mondays at 5 p.m.