Twice a week, I drop off our dog Abbott at doggie day care for a day of fun and playing with friends. Several months ago, I began noticing a line of folks regularly waiting at the business next door: Spay Neuter Charlotte. Wondering why such a facility might be so popular at 7:15 a.m., I became intrigued. So last week I met with Cary Bernstein, founder and executive director, to learn about SNC’s unique operation. Below are some of the tidbits I learned:
When I arrived at SNC, I was surprised at what I saw. The front lobby was not at all what I was expecting. It was fun, colorful, and inviting (and, frankly smelled pretty good… again, not what I was expecting at a facility where so many animals are in and out every day). As I snapped a few pics, Cary greeted me in the lobby. The first thing she said when I mentioned how nice the front room was is that her first goal every day is to “take care of the smell.” Mission accomplished, Cary.
The next thing I noticed was a pair of office doors covered in blackboard paint with “Welcome” written at the top, and a long list of names below it. These, I found out, were the names of the dogs and cats that were scheduled for appointments that day. Cary said they re-write every morning to welcome patients and their parents to the facility, and to make folks feel more at home. I suddenly wondered why my own personal doctor doesn’t do the same.
After that, Cary and I sat down to talk facts.
- Spay Neuter Charlotte is a non-profit founded in 2011
- There are currently two locations: NoDa and Pineville; a third location is planned for Mooresville soon.
- SNC has two primary goals: (1) To support those who own pets but who may not be able to afford to have them spayed or neutered, and (2) To make Charlotte a “No Kill” city, i.e. a city where no pets are euthanized due to overpopulation.
- SNC spays and neuters cats and dogs four days a week, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. On Wednesdays they offer “well visits,” including vaccinations and testing for those that need them but may not be able to afford them.
Since opening its doors in 2011, SNC has spayed or neutered nearly 32,000 pets. On average, that’s about 250 per week at this point. SNC prides itself on providing an environment that is warm and inviting, both for patients and their families. As Cary says, “We treat others’ pets like we treat our own. We have respect for the people who come through our doors. They trust us, and we have a great responsibility to honor that.”
After chatting with Cary, we took a tour of the building. Though I haven’t spent much time in veterinary facilities in the past, I was amazed by the clean feeling and positive vibes – that, and the country music that was playing overhead. Cary noted the good tunes help calm the patients. Once we made it past one of the the chalkboard doors, we entered the spay/neuter room where a handful of cats were in recovery from the day’s surgery. They cats nestled near one another, in various stages of awake and sleep, while staff members checked on them and spoke to them (much like I speak to Abbott when I’m waking her up in the morning).
Cary pointed out the chalkboard with the day’s stats as well as the colorful signs lining the top of the wall where each of the past 12 months’ stats could be found. She talked about how each month had a theme, chosen by one of the team members, to keep staff motivated and inspired. Next up was a sneak peek first into the cat kennel room and then into the dog kennel room where pets were ready and waiting to head home post-surgery. All looked happy and healthy and only slightly disappointed that I wasn’t there to take them home right then. (If only I could!)
Overall, my trip to SNC was enlightening and inspiring. I was impressed by the positive impact Cary and her team are having on our community. And I couldn’t help but hope that more people in our community would take advantage of their efforts.
Before leaving, I asked Cary if there was anything Charlotte Agenda readers could do to help Spay Neuter Charlotte and their mission. First and foremost, Cary said people can spread the word. The more people have their pets spayed or neutered, the fewer unwanted animals will exist in our community; which means that fewer pets will be euthanized. Second, Cary said they welcome donations and invite members of the community to participate in a few events annually to help fundraise for the practice. One event is just around the corner (aka tonight): Art Unleashed on Friday, October 9. (See information below.)
Whatever your connection to the four-legged friends in our community, it’s time we all do what we can to help make Charlotte a No Kill community. So, get out there and do as Bob Barker used to always say at the end of The Price is Right: have your pet spayed or neutered.