Spay/Neuter Wyoming Hits 20,000 Surgeries in 2023
Written by Andrew-Rossi on January 6, 2023
In the 14 years of the program, the statewide movement to spay and neuter pets has been a tremendous success and solution to the persistently high number of unwanted pets.
When Dr. Heather Carleton and the Animal Adoption Center (AAC) started offering free and low-income spay/neuter services across Wyoming in 2009, they never imagined that the program would eventually be responsible for over 20,000 surgeries. However, this winter, Spay/Neuter Wyoming met that milestone and, with it, has prevented at least a quarter of a million unwanted pets from being born.
“Spaying and neutering exponentially reduces the number of animals entering the shelter system. Seeing how affordable access to these services positively impacts every aspect of animal welfare is inspiring and motivating for our entire team,” said Carrie Boynton, the AAC Executive Director.
It was a trip to Thailand that sparked the idea. In 2008, Jackson-based veterinarian Dr. Carleton spent time there working with Soi Dog, a group that provides spay/neuter and medical services to stray animals throughout the country.
“They were doing amazing things to address the homeless pet population. If this could be done in a developing country, why couldn’t it be done in the United States,” Carleton said.
“Wyoming had a huge homeless pet problem, the shelters were overflowing, and euthanasia rates were high. It was time for a change.”
She knew exactly whom to talk to: The AAC. Until then, the AAC’s work had been focused primarily on rescue and adoption, but Dr. Carleton, a board member, knew the best way to save the lives of homeless animals was to attack the root of the problem.
“Dr. Carleton’s vision for Spay/Neuter Wyoming marked a turning point for the AAC. Through this program, we went from helping hundreds of animals each year to touching the lives of thousands annually,” said Boynton. “For a momma dog, it means no more unwanted litters, and for a pet in the shelter system, it can be their ticket to a loving home or a partnering rescue.”
In the early years, Dr. Carleton and her dedicated team of vets and techs traveled across Wyoming, hosting monthly free and low-cost clinics. From there, it steadily grew. Today, those free clinics continue multiple times a year on the Wind River Reservation, while other communities around the state are served by veterinary clinics that partner with the AAC to offer low-income vouchers.
Spay/Neuter Wyoming has also worked with municipal shelters to help ensure all animals are spayed or neutered prior to adoption.
The remarkable effect that those efforts have on live release rates, was highlighted in AAC’s 2018 Spay/Neuter Wyoming video featuring the Rock Springs Animal Control.
“Being able to reach animals in need and support municipal partners is tremendously impactful. We are forever grateful to our dedicated veterinarian partners, Lulu’s Fund, Cross Charitable Foundation, and all the donors who make it possible for us to fight the pet overpopulation problem,” said Boynton.
After all of their success in Wyoming, the AAC’s efforts have extended beyond the state to Texas. The A.A.C. funds monthly clinics at the Laredo shelter in collaboration with Austin-based spay/neuter group, Tex Pets, to help address their severe homeless animal problem. This initiative has assisted over 1,600 Laredo shelter pets in their journey to a forever home and helped increase live release rates significantly. Learn more.
While shelter intake numbers and euthanasia rates in partnering communities have declined, the need for affordable vet care remains. “In recent years a number of partnering vet clinics have had to step away from the program primarily due to the nationwide vet shortage,” said Boynton.
As the AAC looks to 2023, it is actively seeking additional vets and vet practices interested in helping to reduce the number of homeless pets in Wyoming.
If you or your vet practice would like to get involved as a low-income voucher partner or become a member of the mobile clinic team, please call the AAC at 307-739-1881. As this program is funded entirely through philanthropy, financial contributions are always welcome.
Jackie Hinther, the Outreach Coordinator for the Park County Animal Shetler, stressed the importance of spaying and neutering all cats and dogs – pets and local strays – in an interview with Mac Watson on Speak Your Piece.