Maximizing In-House Spay/Neuter Services
Amanda Dykstra - Wessel, DVM
Jefferson City, Missouri Animal Shelter
UC Davis Loren Eslinger Fellow
Sandra Newbury, DVM
Koret Shelter Medicine Program
Center for Companion Animal Health
U C Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
Evaluating what you have
Does an in-house program benefit you?
What do you / would you pay now per outsourced cat surgery?
What do you pay now per dog surgery? ______________
How many cat surgeries do you/would you perform per month / year?
How many dog surgeries per month / year? ___________
What will the cost be per surgery in-house? _____________
• For help determining this, use resources available online
Figure the difference and determine if it is worthwhile to invest in the start-up
• Cost savings per dog/cat _________
• Cost savings per month/year_________
Would it be more cost effective for cats or dogs? _______
Could you also offer low cost spay/neuter to the community to bring in
Do you have an appropriate space?
Do you need a premise permit/facility license? ________
• Would you qualify for a premise permit? _________
Would you require other licensing? (eg. DEA) _______
Would a current space be appropriate or will you have to add on to a building?
• ability to disinfect
• work flow
• space for O2 tanks/other anesthesia equipment
• appropriate housing/recovery
• separated room for surgery
• separation between public / private animals
• scrub sinks
• storage for packs/suture/other surgery supplies
Do you have the staff? __________________
How much staff do you need?
• Vet assistants, office staff, other unlicensed _______
• If you are considering low cost spay/neuter, that will require more staff.
What qualifications / training level do you need staff to have?
Can your organization provide additional training? _______
Will you be able to make this work with the current staff you have or will you
have to hire more? ________
Can you hire or contract a part time veterinarian or will you need full time?
Will your insurance cover liability? ___________
If you choose to hire only part time, is there a pool of qualified veterinarians in
the area? ___________
• Many people will not relocate for a part time position.
Can you get volunteers to help? ________
Do you have ability to provide emergency care for surgical patients during surgery? ________
Do you have ability to provide emergency care / triage for surgical patients post-operatively or
after returning to their owners? ______________________________
Do you have access to start-up funds? ______________
Can you get grants or will the shelter fund this? _______________
Determine cost of start-up.
• Humane Alliance has many resources available to provide assistance
with this, especially when considering low cost spay/neuter
• Start up costs will vary greatly depending on what supplies you currently
have and if you need to hire staff or remodel.
• Higher price items include the table, anesthesia machine (think about
O2 and scavenging system), instruments, a surgery light, and an
Improving Efficiency or Building an Efficient In-House Program
Start with scheduling
Review the many models of shelter scheduling and determine which would
work for you.
“Points” systems, block scheduling, defining a set number of surgeries,
Remember to avoid burn out and staff injuries.
Determine if it is more efficient for you to schedule surgery pre- or postadoption.
• Look at your euthanasia rate and local laws.
Reconsider all job duties
Do you have veterinarians performing RVT and lay staff duties?
Are they performing unnecessary job duties during surgery time?
Evaluate and minimize interruptions and distractions
Would training improve efficiency?
Consider the benefit of paying to send staff to Humane Alliance training.
If another shelter or clinic in the area operates more efficiently, will they let a
staff member observe?
Look at every step performed to determine if protocol could be changed to improve
speed without effecting outcome.
Could you use an injectable protocol?
Do you need to intubate cats?
Can you use two surgery tables per surgeon?
Have someone not directly involved with surgery observe the flow to find
Look at anesthetic protocols.
Could another combination be used that would improve efficiency?
Consider reversals when appropriate