Spay and neuter clinic making a difference in West Michigan, director says

Becky Vargo • Feb 1, 2016 at 2:00 PM

FRUITPORT — Anne Munford said it was a long and difficult process to establish a low-cost spay and neuter clinic in West Michigan.

But the hard work and time involved resulted in a celebration last week of 15,000 dogs and cats fixed at the facility, she said.

The non-profit clinic opened its doors in October 2010.

Munford, who serves as the non-paid director of the clinic, said they are also expanding service with an extra day of surgery every other week, starting in February.

“There’s a huge demand,” the Grand Haven woman said. “We’re booked out five weeks for female dogs and cats.”

After retiring from her job as a special-education teacher for Fruitport Community Schools, Munford followed her passion for animals and began working in a shelter.

“We knew there was a need” for a low-cost clinic in the area, she said. The shelters were overflowing.

Munford said a local committee was formed, and it eventually whittled down to she and Fruitport businessman Ron Cooper.

“We said, ‘What should we do?’ and we decided to keep on going,” Munford said.

A search for an easy-access location led them to storage units owned by Cooper’s brother, just off I-96 on Airline Road.

“We need a huge amount of parking,” Munford said. “We have 30 people at a time.”

The duo partnered with the staff of C-Snip in Grand Rapids, who mentored them through the clinic layout and building.

Munford said they paid rent for more than a year before everything was ready.

“We took a risk, but as soon as we opened we found out we were right,” about the need in the community, she said.

The clinic currently performs 60 surgeries a week using veterinarians from C-Snip. Starting next month, that is expected to go up to 90 surgeries a week. 

Munford said the clinic does approximately 3,500 surgeries a year — soon to be about 4,000. That translates into a lot fewer dogs and cats being born and a lot less animals that have to be euthanized, she said.

Munford noted that male dogs that have been neutered normally have a longer life expectancy, as well as a healthier life because they are no longer prone to testicular cancer.

It costs $90 to spay or neuter a dog and $50 for a cat. Rabies shots and microchips are $15 each.

But Munford emphasized they do not turn anyone away.

“We just ask how much you can pay,” she said. The rest is then covered by grants from companies such as Bissell and Pet Smart.

Because they have to pay rent, and all of the staff is paid, it is still important to get the cost of working on the animal, Munford said. With the extra day of surgeries come extra operating costs.

Although they’ve operated with the help of more than $350,000 in grants over the years, community support is the next step, Munford said.

Anyone interested in donating can do so online at www.wmspayandneuter.org, or send a check to the West Michigan Spay and Neuter Clinic, 6130 Airline Road, Fruitport, MI 49415.


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