The maiden voyage of the Home At Last mobile spay and neuter clinic made its first stop in Rufus June 21.
The clinic, a converted 1985 Mallard travel trailer, is finally on the road after serving for most of a year as the on-site spay and neuter surgery suite for Home At Last, a “No Kill” animal shelter in The Dalles.
It’s a welcome milestone for Dr. Lauretta Burman, who was drawn to volunteer for Home At Last specifically for the opportunity to have a mobile spay and neuter clinic.
The mobile clinic didn’t draw as many furry customers as Burman would’ve liked. She had three and was hoping for 10 — but she hopes to promote the events better in the future. She’d like to take the clinic on the road at least once a month before the snow flies.
She specifically wants to go to the outlying locales, such as Tygh Valley, Maupin and Dufur, where there are little or no veterinary services.
She’s also open to any group that wants to host her. All she needs is a fairly level place to park, and access to electricity and water.
“I don’t care if it’s a church group. I don’t care if its PTA. I don’t care if it’s the government,” she said. She added she has her own licensure and insurance and doesn’t need the umbrella of a government to visit a site.
Anyone who wishes to have a visit from the mobile clinic can call Home At Last Operations Manager Gale Simpson at 541-296-5189.
While her goal is 10 animals per visit, “I would do 30 if I can get them.”
She does the spays and neuters to decrease the animal population “so fewer animals wind up in the shelter.”
A particular problem is the feral cat population – which can bring disease and environmental degradation.
Depending on whether it’s a dog or cat, or a spay or neuter, the operations themselves take between 10 and 15 minutes.
Because it’s a non-profit group, and Burman donates her time, the costs for the surgeries are low: $30 for a dog spay, $25 for a dog neuter, $20 for a cat spay and $15 for a cat neuter.
Burman was grateful to the Rufus city administrator, Jaclyn McCurdy, for helping arrange the site visit in Rufus.
The mobile clinic set up by a former school, which provided the water and electricity hookups needed for the clinic.
“For the very first time, it was really sweet to have it so congenial,” Burman said of McCurdy’s help.
Customers dropped off their animals, and Burman was assisted by HAL volunteer Nan Wimmers, whose husband, Shelby Vincent, helped retrofit the travel trailer into a mobile surgical suite and lab.
The Mallard served as Burman’s surgical suite for eight months before a modular surgical suite was built at Home At Last.
“It’s almost like a homecoming for me to be back in the RV,” Burman said.
Burman brought her own RV to Rufus as well, so she could camp overnight and check on the animals in the morning. She checks on them at 10 p.m., and then again the next day at 5 a.m. before releasing them to their owners.
The mobile clinic offers not only spay and neuters, but also does vaccinations, Burman said.
Burman has been volunteering on Thursdays and Fridays at Home at Last since April 2012.
“I really would like to interface more with the outlying communities,” she said. “I think the need is there.”
She said it was unusual to have a mobile clinic outside the Willamette Valley.
Burman, who was raised in Oregon but practiced veterinary medicine in Idaho, said, “I always thought to end my career this way – doing volunteer services.”
She lives in The Dalles, and her sister will be moving in with her into her large house in September. They ruled out moving to “dry and dusty” Pendleton, where they’d graduated from high school.
“We love it here,” she said. “It’s really an honest little town.”