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!

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Rockstar vet assistant Warren posing with a patient!
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We celebrated our 5th birthday in August! 
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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.
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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? 
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Here is a rendering of what our new NoDa Clinic located on 32nd Street will look like!

Why do we need animal rescue organizations?

If I am being totally honest I am just trying to work myself out of a job!

My name is Daryl and I founded FurBabies Animal Rescue in January 2010. There are lots and lots of animal rescues out there but unfortunately there is ALWAYS a need for more. Why, you ask? Because there are lots and lots of homeless dogs and cats that are being killed in shelters all over the United States every day and particularly in the Southeast.

In my view there are so many people who are barking up the wrong tree (pun intended) wasting precious time complaining about the way the shelters handle the homeless pets in their counties. The county departments aren’t called Animal Control for nothing. Unfortunately they are not allowed to require the general public to spay and neuter their pets in order to control the animal population but they are allowed to euthanize the animals that come into their facilities to control the population.

If all of the well meaning folks who are complaining about how the shelters are “killing animals” would use the same efforts, breath and forums to educate the same people reading and hearing their rants to educate those people about spaying and neutering we MIGHT just make a difference in what is so heartbreaking to those of us who are in the trenches.

It is my dream that one day there will be no need for me to run a non-profit rescue because each and every dog will have a home where it is loved and cared for. The only way I can even imagine that happening is to prevent unwanted pregnancies by spaying and neutering.

-Daryl Wagner, Founder of FurBabies Animal Rescue

It’s 7:30 am and you’ve just walked through our clinic’s doors – what happens next?

The staff of Spay Neuter Charlotte can appreciate how nervous our clients are when they are dropping their puppies and kittens off for surgery. Our check-in process can seem a little daunting, and may even add a little more stress to the owners, at first. Almost every day, however, we hear from at least one owner how easy going and quick the process truly was. A “well-oiled machine” is a common phrase thrown around in the morning. If you are new to our organization, and would like some insight on what to expect on your pet’s surgery day, please continue reading!

We open the doors first thing in the morning at 7:25 AM, and allow five minutes for everyone to get in the building. We ask that everyone with a dog please keep them in their car. Although our check-in discussion is very brief, if there were 15-20 dogs in the lobby during the “spiel” – I’m sure you can imagine the chaos that would ensue! We ask that anyone with cats bring them inside in their carriers. We do require that all cats come into our building in carriers because it makes them less stressed, easier to handle, and safer around the dogs. Once everyone is in the lobby we then take a few minutes to go over everyone’s surgical release. We require that a surgical release be signed for every pet receiving surgery that day.

Once your paperwork is signed, you will check your pet in for surgery with one of our staff members. We will take a minute to discuss what your pet is scheduled to get done for that day and if there are any additional services you’d like to add on. We will also require your rabies paperwork at this time. If your pet is up to date on their rabies, we are required, by law, to have some sort of documentation, so please don’t forget this at home! If you are seeing us to get your dog fixed we give you a collar made out of paper for you to put around your dog’s neck. This is important because it ensures that we know exactly who your pup is!

Once you’ve finished checking in with a staff-member you are able to then get your dog out of your car and bring him or her in with their collar on. The vet techs will then come up and take your dog into the back office for their pre-surgical exam. If you have a cat, we’ll ask you to label your cat’s carrier with a sticker and kennel card. Once your cat is labeled, you’re all finished and ready to go! Overall, this process typically takes 15-20 minutes if you arrive at 7:30 AM.

We take our patient care very seriously at Spay Neuter Charlotte and we want everyone who walks through our clinics’ doors to enjoy their experience. The best thing to do is come prepared (bring rabies paperwork, don’t give your dog or cat food after midnight, and bring your cat in carrier if you have a cat), take a deep breath and be patient with us – it’s 7:30 AM for us too! 🙂

– Kelly, Pineville Clinic Manager

What does wellness mean exactly?

Have you ever visited Spay Neuter Charlotte in NoDa on a Wednesday for Wellness? What about on a Friday in Pineville? If you have, you know we keep a steady and busy flow of doggy and kitty friends coming through the lobby for appointments. Some of them are here simply to have a vaccine updated, while others are waiting to see the doctor. When you’re making the appointment, you will be asked if you need a visit with the doctor or a visit with the technician. But what does that mean? We’re here to help with that.

When you contact us here at Spay Neuter Charlotte and ask to book an appointment for vaccines, we will book you for what we call a tech appointment. This type of appointment is what the majority of you, our clients, are looking for. We know that not everyone is looking for a visit with the doctor and sometimes you just need to come in and update Chuckie’s rabies vaccine or to get Tito a nail trim. A tech appointment is simply an appointment where your animal goes to the back with one of our trained technicians for services while you wait in the lobby. If you do not have questions or concerns for your pet that need to be discussed with a vet, this is the type of appointment you want.

These appointments are usually quick affairs, as we schedule three technicians’ appointments every fifteen minutes and you pay only for the services you need. We are usually able to schedule you for a tech appointment within 3-5 days of your contacting us to schedule. During a tech appointment, your animal receives a brief physical before any services are administered. If our staff sees anything out of the ordinary, we let you know about it, and if it is something we can help address, we go over your options to care for it as well. Some folks though are looking for a more complete physical exam, or have questions that need to be answered by the doctor. For these kind of appointments, we would schedule you for an office visit.

An office visit is an appointment where you go into a room with your animal with a technician and the doctor. An office visit is $25, plus the cost of whatever services are requested in addition to the office visit. During these visits, you have some one on one time with one of our doctors and are able to ask questions while your dog or cat is examined, and go over any concerns you might have. If your animal has a skin issue, or an ear infection, these would be addressed in an office visit appointment with the doctor. Our office visit appointments book up more quickly than our tech appointments and usually run 3-4 weeks out at a time. The office visits are booked as either a fifteen or thirty minute appointment depending on the day of the week you are scheduling and the reason for your office visit.

We are not a full services veterinary hospital and unfortunately are unable to see all types of visits here as we have limited diagnostic equipment. As an example, we do not have x-ray here so if your pet has a leg injury, we would refer you to your primary vet. If you are looking to schedule an appointment for something that is beyond the scope of what we can see here, we will advise you that Spay Neuter Charlotte can’t help in this situation and will refer you to your primary. In some instances, we can see you for an office visit to start a conversation but our veterinarian may have to refer to a primary vet.

As a general rule of thumb, unless you ask for a visit with a doctor, we will schedule you for a tech appointment. If you do want to see the doctor, please ask us when you are scheduling your appointment so we can make sure you are scheduled for the right visit. For every wellness day we have one technician dedicated to helping in the rooms with the doctor, and a different set of technicians working on the tech appointments. If you come in for an office visit appointment, you might see other appointments go back with a technician that came in after you while you are waiting. Because you are waiting to see the doctor and they aren’t, our technicians will take those back as they come in, but may help start services for your office visit appointment if there is a break and there is anything they can do to help get your visit started.

We now offer wellness three days a week at NoDa, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, as well as continuing to have those appointments available on Fridays at Pineville. You can make an appointment by giving us a call, or by using the online scheduler on the website. The services we offer on wellness days can be found on our website, as well as pricing. We hope to see you soon!

-Nicole, NoDa Clinic Manager

A Reflection on Four Years

For the past four years Spay Neuter Charlotte has been my home away from home. I have come into work everyday to see the people who I have laughed with, cried with and celebrated with for years. I have had the pleasure to share stories with clients about their pets, their children and more. I’ve watched animals who were originally scared to come near me, happily meow or wag their tail when they saw me. Spay Neuter Charlotte is the place where my son came into work with me only weeks after he was born to meet all the people I called my family.

I have so many emotions when I talk about Spay Neuter Charlotte but one of the things I am most proud of is being able to say I was in the trenches when SNC started. Spay Neuter Charlotte started in late 2011 and I joined less than a year later. Since 2012 I have watched the organization grow from less than ten employees to more than 25. We celebrated completing 20,000 surgeries, then 30,000 and now over 42,000 surgeries. We started providing wellness care on Wellness Wednesdays at the NoDa Clinic and then due to high demand we added even more days to help more people. I helped grow, sometimes painfully, the level of technological involvement into business area that traditionally hasn’t had any.

It is hard for to articulate all that I have been part of during my time at Spay Neuter Charlotte the last four years. As I move on to another job and leave SNC on a daily basis, I am embracing the cliche “it’s not a goodbye – it’s see you later.” If you come to a SNC fundraiser or event you will see my smiling face there alongside all the other incredible people who work at Spay Neuter Charlotte. So here’s a big hug, smile and a see y’all really soon!

-Billie, former Business Manager

Pitbulls and Birthdays

This month we celebrate our 5th birthday and the accomplishment of 42,000 surgeries.  We are very proud to have achieved this incredible milestone. Since we opened in 2011 there have been so many changes…

We have grown from a staff of five in one location to a 25 person staff spread out over two clinics and are moving forward to open a third clinic before the end of the year. In the beginning, back in 2011, we were working with one rescue group. Now more than thirty use our services on a regular basis and have become more than just clients and patients but partners in improving the lives of animals in our community.

We have pioneered a number of new and innovative systems to improve our patients’ experience with our organization. Back in 2011 we created appointments over the phone – now all it takes is three clicks on our online scheduler and you can have a date and time for your pet’s surgery or wellness appointment. Automated reminders go out to help remind folks of their upcoming appointment and to notify them that their pet’s vaccine will soon expire. There have been so many changes but one thing has remained a constant: our affection for the bully breeds.

Not to step on anyone’s toes (or paws) but if you took a poll in the clinic, pit bulls would hands down be favorite breed of our staff.  We have fixed more than 3,000 pitties since we opened and I am continually amazed at the wide variety of people who own them and how many different iterations of the breed there are – brindle, red, blue, brown, fawn.  Why do we love them so much?  In my humble opinion it’s because (in no particular order): their fur is like velvet, they want to kiss everyone (we laugh because more times than not they are licking the faces of the doctors while being given an injection or having their nails trimmed), will pretty much do anything to get you to rub their bellies, and their tails are wagging from the minute they come through the door until the moment they walk out of the clinic in the afternoon.  It can often feel like all we hear about pit bulls is the bad stuff. But as someone who interacts with multiple pit bulls five days a week for five years there is absolutely no question: not every dog is perfect but in our experience pit bulls rock!!

-Cary Bernstein,  Founder & Executive Director

Dog Days of Summer

I am a worrier by nature and when the temperature is consistently over 95 degrees I start worrying about our furry friends. Particularly when I see people running with their dog during the heat of the day or even worse, riding a bike with their dog alongside. Yikes! Of course, I didn’t want to presume that this was necessarily a bad thing and luckily for me, I have experts “in the house!” (i.e. I asked Dr. Welch!)  Here are her tips and strategies for managing your pup in the heat:

Outdoor Safety Tips in High Temperatures:

  • Provide animals with plenty of fresh, clean water.  You can also freeze chicken broth into ice cubes as a cool, fun snack for dogs!
  • Provide animals with adequate shade and shelter.
  • If outside longer than 15 minutes, water your animal down with a hose and/or provide a clean water bath where they can cool off in the shade.
  • Avoid the heat of the day.  Early mornings or evenings are recommended for exercise.
  • Brachycephalic breeds (short nosed breeds such as Boxers, Boston Terriers, Pugs, etc.) are at a higher risk for heat stroke.

With the high temperatures it’s also important to recognize the signs of dehydration.

Signs of Dehydration:

  • Excessive panting
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Anorexia
  • Lethargy and/or change in attitude
  • Vocalization
  • Seizures

Keep your pups safe this summer by being smart about the heat and keeping your eye out for signs of dehydration!

-Cary Bernstein, Founder & Executive Director & Dr. Welch, Medical Director