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If you grew up watching “The Price Is Right” when home sick from school, you know how important it is to get your pet spayed or neutered. However, like most surgeries, these procedures can cost a paw and a leg, preventing many pet owners from seeking this service.
That is, unless the Spay Waggin’ rolls into town.
Founded in 2000, the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Spay Waggin’ is a high-quality veterinary facility on wheels offering low-cost spay and neuter surgeries to dog and cat owners across the South Shore, South Coast, and Cape Cod.
The ARL’s Lead Veterinarian of Community Veterinary Services, Dr. Kyle Quigley, and Associate Director of Community Services, Cheryl Traversi, run the mobile surgical unit.
“The rising costs of veterinary care have really prevented people from being able to afford surgical services,” said Dr. Quigley. “So being low-cost and mobile allows us to come to the communities where the people and animals need us most.
And their strategy of meeting up with pet owners for less has paid off. Since the ARL’s Spay Waggin’ first hit the road, it’s performed over 46,000 surgeries for pets across Massachusetts, 25,000 of which have been since 2010 when they started servicing the South Shore, South Coast, and Cape Cod exclusively. The newest on their route: New Bedford.
The importance of getting pets spayed or neutered can’t be understated, for reasons beyond lowering pet’s reproductive urges. These surgeries also reduce the risk of certain types of cancers, specifically mammary cancer in female breeds and testicular and prostate cancer in male breeds. They also make things more convenient for cat owners by taking female breeds out of heat and keeping males from marking their territory, therefore eliminating the need for their owners to put them outside—a step Traversi says is all too common.
“We’ve spoken to many people who have said, ‘We just couldn’t take him peeing on everything any more,’ or ‘Her howling was keeping us up all night so we had to put her outside,’” said Traversi. “We try and catch these people and tell them that it’s totally natural as they go through adolescence, but if you spay or neuter them you can eliminate this behavior.”
Plus, the benefits of stopping pet owners from putting their pets—especially cats—outside goes beyond simple convenience for the owner.
“Once cats that aren’t spayed or neutered get put outside, they reproduce. And then colonies form,” said Dr. Quigley. Luckily, the Spay Waggin’ also runs a feral cat program, offering surgeries and care that halt their reproduction and keep them healthy.
“We had one woman recently who said she was so happy she found us because the feral cats in her backyard were making her sad,” said Traversi. “What started as just a couple turned into ten. So she brought all 10 to us over two months. She’s happy to feed them and care for them, but she said she’d never be able to bring 10 cats to a vet—the cost would be too much.”
The ARL’s Spay Waggin’ also offers a range of additional services that can be done at the time of spay and neuter, like micro-chipping, rabies and feline distemper vaccines, and treatment f
or fleas, mites, and parasites. Their goal is to make sure that animals in their care leave the Spay Waggin’ as healthy as possible, and that pet owners get the most out of a single visit.
The team also encourages pet owners to develop a relationship with a veterinarian in their area. While cost-effective and convenient, the Spay Waggin’ can’t replace regular check-ups and veterinary visits.
And while the ARL’s Spay Waggin’ offers its services for less, that doesn’t mean you’re getting any less care and attention than you would at a veterinary clinic.
“There’s a misconception that low-cost means low-quality, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Dr. Quigley. “Our facility is of the highest quality, and our staff consists of highly trained professionals who all go to great lengths for our patients and their owners.”
Of all the clients that visit the Spay Waggin’ with their pets, many are elderly, handicapped, or on public assistance and wouldn’t normally be able to afford to take their pets to see a vet.
“It’s so rewarding to see them get to keep their animal who they love so much,” said
Dr. Quigley. “They’re grateful for the service and so excited to have their animal taken care of and back home with them the same day.”
In addition to overseeing the Spay Waggin’, the Animal Rescue League also has an animal rescue hotline and offers animals up for adoption to the communities of its three locations in Boston, East Brewster, and Dedham.
Dr. Quigley said that he’s wanted to work with animals for as long as he can remember. Ever since he’s realized his dream of working at the ARL, he and his team have helped thousands of pet owners affordably invest in their pet’s future and well-being.
Bob Barker would be proud.