I love my vets.
But, being the mom of four (formerly five) furbabies – sometimes I just can’t afford them!
Every pet owner knows what I’m talking about. The biggest downside to having pets is the amount spent on their care. When money gets tight, we often:
Pay for our pet’s medical care and neglect our own medical care (this is so me);
Delay vaccinations; or
Skip spaying or neutering.
When it came time for my newest kitten to be spayed, I was stressed about the $300+ her surgery would cost.
My friend, local cat rescuer Marni Miller, recommended Spay Neuter Charlotte, a nonprofit clinic that provides low-cost spay/neuter and basic wellness services. “It’s where I take all my rescues to be spayed.”
“But isn’t that just for … rescues?”
“No, it’s for everyone,” Marni laughed. Then she told me the clinic was running a special that month – female cat spays, normally $50, were only $35. Hmmm, $35 did sound a lot better than $300.
I did some online investigation and discovered the clinic was founded by Cary Bernstein, who served five years on the board of the Humane Society of Charlotte. And all the vets and technicians are fully trained and licensed, with fairly impressive resumes – it’s not veterinary students getting in some practice experience.
So in October I dropped Baby Maggie Firsee off to be spayed at their NoDa location. (Note: If you go there, there is PARKING IN THE BACK!) I was startled by the amount of activity – so many people dropping off their pets! But the clinic was very clean and the staff friendly. Baby had no complications during or after her surgery (other than being royally P.O.’d) and healed quickly. And the entire visit – surgery, pain medication, overnight stay, neck cone, microchip, and a dose of flea medication – only came to about $75.
I was happy. The only way I would have been happier is if I had known in time about their kitten packages – “the fix,” deworming, and all initial kitten vaccinations for $110. (The puppy package is only slightly more expensive at $120).
Fast forward seven months to May. Spay Neuter Charlotte had just opened another office in Pineville – and it was time for Prince Harry and Tiger’s yearly rabies shot. It just so happens that Spay Neuter Charlotte has a Pet Wellness Day – Wednesdays in NoDa and Fridays in Pineville. On that day, you can make an appointment for your pet to have a $20 office exam, or you can skip seeing a doctor and choose a la carte from a range of services offered – like a heartworm or parasite test, rabies or other vaccinations, and microchipping.
Now, when my elderly poodle Muggsy was alive, I always wanted full blood workups and everything else done for him, but for two young, exuberantly healthy, indoor only cats I felt all the tests my regular vet would want to run would be a bit unnecessary. Plus I’d have to pay $10 more for each rabies shot and extra for the office exam. I’d be looking at a bill of over $100. My choice?
Schedule the rabies shots and a microchipping for Prince Harry at the Spay Neuter Charlotte Pineville location!
I have to say, I think I like the Pineville location even better than the NoDa!
It’s in Bradford Downs Business Park …
But the location almost looks like a little house.
Being a non-profit, it’s not as cushy and posh as my regular vet, but it’s clean, bright, and cheerful. Extra effort has been made on inexpensive welcoming touches, like the cheerful planters by the entrance and the doormat that says Wipe Your Paws.
And this chalkboard that has WELCOME! and the names of every patient visiting that day.
It’s an inexpensive but no doubt time consuming little gesture, and yes, it did bring a smile to my face when I saw my pets’ names!
The staff was friendly and professional, and I had no doubt that these people really do love animals. (You can always tell when you’re at a vet place where some workers just consider them … well, animals.)
The procedure was extremely efficient. You walk in and fill out a form verifying what procedures you want done, and if you have any health concerns. A veterinary technician then comes out, speaks to you briefly again confirming the procedures and checking that you do not need to speak to the vet, then walks off with your cat carrier (or your leashed dog). Five minutes later, they’re back, the technician gives you an update (“He’s a big boy – 15 pounds! We gave him his shot and microchip on his right leg. Keep an eye out for any swelling and these symptoms…”) And then you’re done and you can check out.
My cost for two rabies shots and a microchip? Only $55.
Services are available to anyone – you don’t have to live in Charlotte, NC or Mecklenburg County to take advantage.
I can hear some of my readers saying, “Well, that sounds GREAT – but I don’t live anywhere near Charlotte! What do I do?”
Check to see if there are any non-profit spay/neuter clinics in your area. Do your online research and/or make a wellness exam appointment before surgery – I’m sure not all low-cost clinics are of the same quality as Spay Neuter Charlotte!
Google for “pet health fairs” and “adoption events” in your area. These often offer low-cost rabies shots and microchipping.
Inquire at your local pet stores (like PetSmart) and Humane Societies. These places may also sponsor (or at least have knowledge about) low-cost pet clinics and/or vaccination/microchipping events.
Do you have to live in Mecklenburg County to use this service?
No, it’s open to anyone!
Gosh $300 for a spay seems ridiculously expensive to me! Wow! Sounds like a great place you’ve found!
I think the actual “cost” of a spay is less – but then they charge you extra for the bloodwork, the overnight stay, the pain medication, etc. etc. I had my Scruffy neutered at the vet which was supposed to cost around $179 and wound up costing about $325.
Woah! Mine cost about £60 including everything here in the UK, which is about $100. Glad you found this affordable place!
Thanks for the reminder about this. I’ve been thinking of getting a second furbaby. Besides current furbaby being an only child for 14 years, the other thing that has held me back on getting a second furbaby was the thought of vet costs for two.
Oh, I know … the vet bills for that first year are so high! If you do decide to get another furbaby be sure you sign them up with the Puppy & Kitten plan.
When you are at Petsmart, donate a small amount each time you visit. This helps to fund this fabulous place.