What is Spay Virginia?
Spay Virginia, launched in October of 2001, is a statewide project of the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies. The project has brought together private and municipal shelters, rescue groups, local governments, and veterinarians to establish regional spay/neuter programs that address the problem of cat and dog overpopulation. The primary focus of the project is to spay and neuter animals of low-income pet owners, those adopted from animal shelters, and those belonging to people who are unlikely to have them spayed and neutered.
Working with Spay Virginia, each region can assess its needs, identify existing services and resources and develop a plan tailored to the specific needs of that region. By implementing this statewide project, the need to euthanize healthy, adoptable animals is being reduced and, hopefully, will be eliminated. Creating an umbrella for the groups in each region ensures that continuity is established across the state and the needs, programs, and results can be monitored in a more precise and efficient manner. Also, existing outreach programs can be strengthened and new ones established.
What are some examples of regional programs?
To date, the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies (VFHS) has overseen the establishment of three regional spay/neuter clinics in the Commonwealth of Virginia, each based on the Humane Alliance model. While originally operating under the Federation’s umbrella, each clinic has become its own independently operating 501(c) (3) entity.
In January of 2005, the first two clinics opened in Bristol and Harrisonburg. In Bristol, the Margaret B. Mitchell Spay/Neuter Clinic serves the Southwest Virginia/East Tennessee region, including the counties of Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington and Wise, the cities of Bristol and Norton, as well as the City of Bristol and County of Sullivan in Tennessee. The start-up of this clinic was funded by a donation from the estate of Margaret B. Mitchell, the founder of the Bristol Humane Society.
In Harrisonburg, the Shenandoah Valley Spay/Neuter Clinic serves a region including the counties of Rockingham, Shenandoah, Page, Clarke, Frederick, Augusta, Rockbridge, Culpeper, Louisa and Warren and the cities of Harrisonburg, Staunton and Winchester. This clinic’s start-up was funded through fundraising efforts by regional animal welfare organizations as well as a generous grant from the Bosack & Kruger Foundation.
In November of 2006, a third clinic opened. The South Central Spay/Neuter Clinic, located in Lynchburg, offers low-cost spay and neuter surgeries for cats and dogs in the Central Virginia region. This clinic was made possible by the determination and generosity of the local animal welfare organizations, private citizens and businesses in the region. It primarily serves the counties of Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, Campbell, Halifax and Pittsylvania and the cities of Bedford, Danville and Lynchburg but, like the other two clinics, it will not turn anyone away because of residence.
What are the next steps for Spay Virginia?
In addition to its successful role in the opening and operation of three high volume spay/neuter clinics, VFHS has made other efforts to improve the availability of spay/neuter surgeries in Virginia. Through its Spay Virginia project, it has administered spay/neuter funds, awarding grants to local humane societies and other organizations so that those groups could provide more services to their communities.
In 2009, Spay Virginia began its work with Spay/USA, a program of North Shore Animal League America. As part of the Spay/USA network, VFHS continues to accumulate information on spay/neuter options in Virginia and provide that information to the public on the Spay Virginia website. Through these efforts, Spay Virginia will assist individuals in finding convenient, low-cost spay/neuter options in their communities.
Additionally, this information will allow VFHS and its members to more easily identify the areas of Virginia where more assistance is needed and to provide support in the development of further spay/neuter programs, including the recruitment of veterinarians to be part of the statewide network.
Through the Spay Virginia project, VFHS will continue to work towards its goals of ensuring that affordable, accessible spay/neuter services are available throughout Virginia and that euthanasia of healthy or treatable cats and dogs decreases dramatically. It is the vision of VFHS to be the leading advocate for ending unnecessary euthanasia of cats and dogs and advancing animal welfare throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.