What is Pyometra?

A pyometra is essentially an infection inside the uterus of female dogs and cats. It is usually happens following a prolonged heat cycle in older females, but can also occur after a failed mating or artificial insemination. Bacteria usually likes areas of inflammation so it will inhabit the uterus and can cause a large amount of pus to fill the tubular structure of the uterus. 

This is what Pyometra looks like in a female dog that we fixed at Spay Neuter Charlotte. The uterus swells to multiple times its size.

Pyometra is most definitely life threatening and requires emergency surgery. Dogs and cats can become extremely sick and the bacteria from the infected uterus can get into their bloodstream which can lead to death if not treated immediately. Signs that your dog or cat may have a pyometra include, but are not limited to, bloody or purulent discharge noticed around their vulva or hind end, constantly licking under their tail, vomiting, anorexia, lethargy, etc. If any of these signs are noticed you need to get your animal to a veterinarian immediately. Pyometra is typically diagnosed during a physical exam.  Sometimes x-rays are needed if the dog is sick and there is no discharge noted. If there is no discharge that means there is a closed infection and the chance of the uterus rupturing is very high.

Here is another example of what pyometra does to a uterus.

If this occurs, your animal will die. The best way to prevent a pyometra, and maintain the health of your pet,  is to spay your animals early. 

 A recent case presented to Spay Neuter Charlotte is a dog named Smokey. She is a 9 year old female, intact (meaning she was not fixed) Weimraner that was referred by her primary veterinarian, after a diagnosis of a pyometra was made.  The owners called us pleading with us, that if we could not perform Smokey’s lifesaving surgery, that she was going to be euthanized because they could not afford to do emergency surgery in a private setting. We agreed to perform the risky surgery on her, but also communicated the high risk of the procedure and the outcome may not be a good one. She had a fever of 104, she was very lethargic and dehydrated when we first saw her. During surgery she was given IV fluids and antibiotics to help combat the massive infection that was making her sick. Her uterus was 5 times the normal size and was about to tear causing a leakage of the pus in her uterus into her abdomen. This leakage would have killed her. We performed the surgery, but her recovery was not without incident. She had trouble regulating her body temperature and blood pressure during recovery. She was sent to the emergency clinic overnight to continue receiving fluids, IV antibiotics and pain medication until she began to feel better. Smokey was discharged the next morning, feeling much better and alive. 

Smokey’s survival is a success story, but I wasn’t so sure she would survive with how sick she was when she entered our clinic. Emergency surgeries are not something that we like to perform in our spay and neuter setting.  Pyometras are completely avoidable by spaying your females early.  Not all of these surgeries have a happy ending.    

-Dr. Welch, Medical Director



Spay Neuter Charlotte Annual Update

It has been another hugely successful year for Spay Neuter Charlotte. In 2016 we accomplished 11,752 surgeries, a new clinic record and are edging closer every day to a grant total of 50,000. We touched over 14,000 patients with our weekly wellness services, provided 300 dogs and cats with free pet food and did over 500 free surgeries for Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control. Our success is in large part due to the incredible administrative and medical teams in our NoDa and Pineville offices. These are the folks who represent our commitment to exemplary customer and patient care every day. As you might well imagine these aren’t the most glamorous jobs but there isn’t a more qualified and dedicated group in the region. Please note, that I said “the region” and I would go so far as to say, “anywhere.” They are a remarkable collective who I am so proud to call friends and colleagues.

2017 is shaping up to be a transformational year for Spay Neuter Charlotte. We are two weeks away from opening our third clinic in Lake Norman (325 Rolling Hill Road) and I don’t know who is more tickled pink about this expansion – us or the pet owners in the area. We can’t wait to open the door and become trusted friends and partners with the community.

As we prepare to open the Lake Norman Clinic, the renovations are well underway on 32nd Street, which will be the new home of our NoDa clinic. The interior of the building has been gutted and just this week they are beginning the reconstruction process. Our plan is to transform 9,700 square feet into a larger space for spay neuter and for a non-profit veterinary practice to better meet the needs of pet owners in the community.

Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t express my gratitude to our remarkable clients and patients. You are the reason that we do this incredibly gratifying work. We have had 260 individuals make a donation to the “brick by brick” campaign for a total of more than $4,000. You will make it possible for us to purchase a new piece of equipment from our wish list. Thank you!! Stay tuned as we finalize the plans for the permanent wall of paws!!!

-Cary Bernstein, Founder & Executive Director

Here are a few of our favorite photos from the year!

Rockstar vet assistant Warren posing with a patient!
We celebrated our 5th birthday in August! 
Greer Walker employees volunteered their time at the clinic. One thing they helped us with was inserting pins on a map of the Charlotte region so we know where our clients come from.
Spay Neuter Charlotte founder and executive director poses with a puppy who came in to the clinic to get fixed. Don’t they kind of look like twins? 
Here is a rendering of what our new NoDa Clinic located on 32nd Street will look like!

Big Doings at Spay Neuter Charlotte

October was a crazy busy month at Spay Neuter Charlotte. In addition to fixing almost 900 animals there was a flurry of fundraising and lots of progress as move forward with a third clinic location in Lake Norman and a new site for our NoDa clinic.

Art Unleashed, a unique art event that benefits us, as well as four of our rescue partners, was held on October 7th and (despite the oncoming monsoon of Hurricane Matthew) generated record fundraising and attendance. $26,000 was raised thanks to the 126 pieces of art that were graciously donated by local artists. Almost 100% of the proceeds were given back to this year’s recipients: Spay Neuter Charlotte, Dog Days of Charlotte, Raintree Jacks Jack Russell Rescue, Chapman’s Dachshund Rescue, and FurBabies Animal Rescue.

Art Unleashed was quickly followed by the clinic’s annual dinner fundraiser, Bone Appetit! held this year at Sullivan’s Steakhouse. The theme for the evening was “Sweet dreams are made of this” and revolved around the Spay Neuter Charlotte’s plans to relocate the existing North Davidson facility to a much larger building on 32nd Street. They Call Me Sugar created an edible rendition of the new building. Isn’t it incredible?

This delicious cake (yes, it’s a cake!) was made by They Call Me Sugar and is a rendering of our new NoDa Clinic on 32d Street.

In addition to hearing from me about our accomplishments and future plans, attendees also heard from Renee English who shared her perspective as a board member, Laurie Brady talked about her experiences as a volunteer, Bill Green who explained why his investment group wanted to purchase the 32nd Street building for our use and from Dr. Welch who talked about her dreams for what we will be able to do in the new space. The response to the presentation was overwhelming with over $100,000 raised!

We are also thrilled to announce that the ASPCA is providing Spay Neuter Charlotte with a $70,000 grant to open a third clinic in Lake Norman. The new Lake Norman clinic will be located at 325 Rolling Hill Road and is currently being renovated and (fingers crossed) a “soft opening” will take place December 1st and will be open to the public on January 1st. We will do surgery in the building Tuesday – Thursday and offer basic medical care on Fridays. We are very excited about the opportunity to serve pet owners in the Iredell region.

We are so grateful to be able to serve pet owners in our community who most need us and we are excited that with the opening of a third clinic this community is growing. Having the opportunity to expand into a third site in Lake Norman and relocate our NoDa Clinic to a larger facility on 32nd Street makes it possible for us to do more to meet the needs of those who we serve. Our grand expansion plans would not be possible without the incredible support of donors and clients and the leadership of our board. We are also indebted to the ongoing support of PetSmart Charities and the ASPCA. Together we will create a region without homeless pets.

-Cary Bernstein, Founder & Executive Director

Spay Neuter Charlotte Founder & Executive Director, Cary Bernstein, holding Remi an 8 week old puppy at our NoDa Clinic.

A Dog’s Day at SNC

A day in the life of a dog getting fixed at Spay Neuter Charlotte:

6:00 am: Time to wake up! Hey… Where’s my breakfast?

6:30 am: That’s my leash! Where am I going? Grandma’s! Yay! Best Day Ever!!

6:45 am: Car ride?! Yay again!

7:15 am: The car has stopped. This is not Grandma’s.

7:25 am: I’m in the car. By. Myself. This never happens. How do I drive this thing? Bluetooth, call Grandma, we are lost.

7:45 am: Who’s this lady in the white coat? Why are you touching me there? Who are you?

7:48 am: Wow. I like whatever that lady in the white coat gave me. I see rainbows!

…..The next several hours are a trance, but here is what really happens:

When you arrive at Spay Neuter Charlotte to get your pet fixed we ask that you keep your dog in the car. We do this because it helps keep the lobby a less chaotic as we check-in everyone in the morning and give you important instructions. All cats are required to be in a carrier and after we finish with the check-in announcements you are allowed to drop off your cat while dog owners return to the car and hang out with their dog and wait for a vet tech. A vet tech will come to your car to ask you a couple questions before taking your dog into the building. Once your dog or cat is in the building they will get a physical exam by the doctor to make sure they are healthy for surgery. Afterwards, they get their first dose of meds to help them relax before surgery.

When it’s your pet’s turn for surgery, they will be given an additional dose of medication that makes them fall asleep as they are intubated to help them breathe during surgery. Once intubated your cat or dog gets their belly shaved, sanitized, nails trimmed, etc. They are moved to a sterile surgical table and hooked up to an anesthesia machine. The doctor will perform the surgery while the vet techs monitor their breathing and heart rate. Before surgery is complete, a pain block is given at the incision site, to numb the area, and make sure they’re as comfortable as possible. Once the doctor has completed surgery, they are moved to a warm soft bed that we call “the beach.” Each dog and cat is wrapped in blankets and surrounded by heated packs that keep them nice and warm. A vet tech monitors them as they are waking up. Once they are awake, they are moved back to their kennel where they rest and are continuously monitored for the rest of the day.

Back to your dog’s thoughts…

2:00 pm: That was a strange nap. I feel funny.

2:30 pm: Hey person. Why are you looking at me there? You have NO respect for my privacy. Geez.

3:00 pm: I swear I hear my mom out there.

3:06 pm: Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. I know she hears me. Mom. Mom.

3:25 pm: Hey person. Where are you taking me? Wait. I see mom!!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!

Your dog will begin to wake up only a few hours after surgery as they recover in their kennel. Pet owners will arrive in the clinic to be discharged at 3:30 PM and receive walk out instructions about how to care for their pet post surgery. These instructions and the information packet given at this time are very important. We discuss why making sure that your pet doesn’t lick their incision while they recover is crucial. (Licking causes lots of post op problems.) Before each dog is returned to its mom or dad (or Grandma) a vet tech checks their incision site to make sure that there are no problems and it looks good. From there we walk your dog out into the lobby where they are reunited with their family.

Here are some SNC patients with their families! 🙂


We’re Back!

Hi everyone! Spay Neuter Charlotte has been absent from the tumblr scene in a while. We’re sorry about that! Since we’ve last checked in almost two years ago we have done 32,000 spay neuter surgeries (since opening in 2011) and now have 26 people on staff in 2 locations (NoDa & Pineville).

Stayed tuned for even more impressive facts & figures and stories about the work we’re doing in the greater Charlotte area.

What I Saved at Wellness Wednesday

I had just brought my cat to our neighborhood vet for his shots and well check when I met Cary last year.  I promised her I would head over to Spay Neuter Charlotte when Reagan was ready for his vaccinations this year.   Boy, am I glad I did!


First, I filled out the online appointment request.  Within 24 hours, I got a call from Nicole who scheduled our appointment for two weeks from then.  It was very easy and accommodating.

On Wellness Wednesday, I scooped up Reagan in his kennel and off we drove towards No Da.  We were efficiently checked in by Nicole (nice to see her in person!) and were asked to wait in the waiting room.  In the mean time, we chatted with other dog and cat owners from the area.  The waiting room was comfortable and clean.  Reagan’s name was on one of the chalkboard doors along with the other clients that day!  We were summoned to the ‘cat room’ within about 10 minutes.

While in the exam room, our technician brought Reagan back for a nail trim and his Feline Distemper shot.  When she returned a few minutes later, our vet, Dr. Ackerman, introduced herself and began Reagan’s exam.  She was friendly, thorough and knowledgeable.  After he received his other shots, we asked a few questions and were ready to go.  Total time in clinic – 26 minutes.   Not bad!  However, the best part was to come.

check up

I proceeded to the waiting room, and Billie checked me out.  With the exam, vaccinations and nail trim, our total office visit was $75.   WOW!  I was in shock.  As you can see, our visit last year was  $277 – for the same exact services, time spent, questions asked, board certified veterinarian conversation, 3 year rabies vaccination…shall I go on?


Thank you, Cary, and Spay Neuter Charlotte for opening my eyes to the benefits of a low cost clinic that provides just the services I needed for a 2 year old, healthy, indoor cat.   In an emergency situation I know I would still need to visit a nearby vet, but for annual well checks and vaccinations, we will be back every year!

-Guest Blogger

My Last Week at SNC

Last week Spay Neuter Charlotte did our first photo contest! It was so fun to see all of the cute pets in our Charlotte area. It was hard to pick a winner, because everyone’s photo was just so cute! We decided to choose two winners –siblings! Brandon and Margaret Weddington. Together they helped raised $575, and our whole contest all together raised $1,545!! Thank you to everyone for your awesome support and for helping to grow awareness of the importance of spay and neuter. Brandon and Margaret will be featured on a Charlotte billboard for an entire month. Watch our facebook page for the update on when and where the billboard will be posted.
This week Spay Neuter Charlotte is celebrating our 10,000th sterilization surgery! This means that since opening in August 2011, the clinic has prevented roughly 20,000 unwanted litters – possibly 100,000 babies if each were to have a litter of five. Many of those unborn babies would not have found homes and would have ended up being euthanized or left homeless contributing to pet overpopulation in Charlotte. The Duke Energy Building lit up teal and gold on Monday to show their support for our clinic. Our team headed to Mimosas Grill for a toast before going to view the building Monday night in uptown. This is such a big achievement for Spay Neuter Charlotte and we are so proud of all the hard work our team and all of the support we have from our patients and clients!
This is my last week interning at Spay Neuter Charlotte and although I am sad to leave, I am happy with everything I am taking away from this experience. Not only have I learned a lot about the field of study I am in school for, but I have also learned the importance of spaying and neutering your pets. I never realized what a big problem pet overpopulation is. Spay Neuter Charlotte has shown me what a difference a small team can make. They continue to stay positive toward making Charlotte a no-kill society and bettering the wellness of our Charlotte pets. Every single person that works at Spay Neuter believes full-heartedly in this cause and is passionate about taking control of our pet population issue. I will definitely miss seeing the happy fury, and non-fury, faces I am used to seeing every week!
-Alex, PR Intern