Tails from APS-FH
February 23, 2021
It’s World Spay Day
APS-FH Celebrates with Exciting News!
What is World Spay Day?

World Spay Day is a global campaign to encourage the spay and neuter of companion animals and community (feral and stray) cats in an effort to save and significantly improve their lives.

World Spay Day was first started as Spay Day USA by actress/singer Doris Day and the Doris Day Animal League. It was initiated in 1995 when the estimated euthanasia rate in overcrowded shelters was between 14 and 17 million dogs and cats each year – today the rate is estimated to be 1.5 million. This annual event has grown across 74 countries, resulting in the spay/neuter of millions of animals.

World Spay Day is celebrated on the last Tuesday in February each year. Here, within our San Juan Island Community, APS-FH traditionally celebrates World Spay (and Neuter) Day by hosting its annual “Spay-ghetti” dinner to bring attention to the importance of animal birth-control.

Unfortunately this year, due to COVID-19, we are not able to acknowledge this important work together. However, we are not letting that stop us. We have some exciting spay/neuter-related news to share. So, this year, we are celebrating virtually through this newsletter!
Photo credit: Diana O'Brian
APS-FH’s Capital Campaign Sets the Stage

APS-FH’s capital campaign to build a new animal shelter on San Juan Island was completed and doors opened in September, 2018. The state-of-the-art shelter included a two-room suite for surgeries and exams, but the suite lacked the medical equipment and supplies required to provide medical care to animals.

In 2019, APS-FH raised funds to complete the suite and hired Dr. Merriss Waters as the shelter’s part-time Veterinarian. On February 5, 2020 Dr. Waters, with APS-FH staff, completed the first surgery in our Surgical Suite.

Having the capacity to provide shelter animals essential medical care within our own facility has significantly reduced our medical expenses and has helped decrease the average length-of-stay (arrival to adoption) for shelter animals.
No animal was actually spayed or neutered during this photo shoot!
Photo credit: Diana O'Brian
With a fully equipped clinic and our own dedicated vet, APS-FH has increased our TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) Program activities - with the goal of reducing and eventually eliminating feral or “community” cat over-population on the island.

In 2020, APS-FH provided medical care to almost 300 shelter animals, plus 70 TNR cats from feral/community cat colonies.

APS-FH felt great about this accomplishment, but had another goal in sight…
APS-FH Celebrates World Spay Day with exciting news - New Spay/Neuter Clinic for Low Income Families!

Today, on World Spay Day, APS-FH is excited to officially announce the launch of the “APS-FH Spay/Neuter Clinic.”

According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: “cost is the reason most often cited by owners for not having their dogs and cats spayed or neutered. People with low incomes are nearly as likely to own pets as are people with high incomes, indicating that many animals live in households that simply cannot afford full-service veterinary care.” On San Juan Island, 10.2 percent of people live in poverty.

To address this need, APS-FH has historically provided vouchers ($50/dog and $25/cat) to help low-income residents spay/neuter their pets. But even with this voucher, the additional cost of spaying or neutering a pet can be prohibitive for people living below the poverty line.

The APS-FH Spay/Neuter Clinic will expand our current services to provide in-house, high quality spaying and neutering of dogs and cats to qualifying low-income residents. This will make it more affordable for our low-income residents to spay/neuter their pets; improving pet-health and reducing the number of abandoned, homeless, and surrendered pets. (Clinic information will be available in both English and Spanish.)

We will ramp up slowly to ensure the highest level of services, starting with one appointment per week for public animals. We hope to quickly increase the number of procedures: look for information in future newsletters or our website.  If you or someone you know could benefit from our services, please call the shelter. As the program grows, more information will be available on our website at www.apsfh.com.

We at APS-FH are dedicated to support our community in the spay/neuter effort. To further assist our low-income residents, APS-FH is actively raising funds for those who need additional financial assistance. If you would like to help us in our efforts, please click on the button below.
A word from our new veterinarian, Dr. Merriss Waters...
Happy World Spay Day! 

We at the shelter are very excited to celebrate this year! We have a fully staffed and operational surgery suite and we are ready to make a difference in our community.

Raising awareness about and providing access to spay and neuter makes for a happier community and healthier pets. Aside from decreasing the population of unwanted pets and saving millions of lives on the global scale, spay/neuter has benefits to individual animals:

Neutering your male companion:
  • Prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems
  • Decreases unwanted behaviors such as roaming and marking

Spaying your female companion:
  • Prevents diseases such as uterine infections and breast cancers which are malignant in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats

Spaying and neutering also decreases the spread of communicable diseases such as FIV (feline HIV) and FeLV (feline leukemia) in outdoor and community cats.

In other words, by spaying/neutering, your pet will live a longer, healthier life.

On top of all that, anytime we prevent an unwanted litter through spay/neuter, we potentially open up the homes that litter would have gone to for existing homeless pets.

Euthanasia in animal shelters is still the leading cause of death for dogs and cats in the US, and we still have work to do. However, euthanasia is down from 20 million/year in the 1970’s to 1.5 million today thanks in huge part to spay/neuter!

If we continue down this path and every community does its part, we will see a day, and soon, when we are no longer taking animals’ lives simply because they have no home to call their own.
The Talk
Video credit: Diana O'Brian
Math Catics
An unspayed female cat, her mate and all their kittens, if none are ever neutered or spayed, can result in up to:
1 year = 12
2 years = 67
3 years = 376
4 years = 2,107
5 years = 11,801
6 years = 66,088
7 years = 370,092
8 years = 2,075,514
Math Dogics
An unspayed female dog, her mate and all their puppies, if none are ever neutered or spayed, can result in up to:
1 year = 16
2 years = 128
3 years = 512
4 years = 2,048
5 years = 12,288
6 years = 67,000
APS-FH is excited to introduce Dr. Merriss Waters, our Senior Clinician
Dr. Waters has always felt a deep connection with animals and has been volunteering with animal welfare organizations since she was eight years old. After graduating with honors from veterinary school at UC Davis, and completing her internship, she worked as an emergency and critical care veterinarian at Seattle Veterinary Specialists while also volunteering at local shelters and traveling with non-profit animal welfare organizations.

She moved into shelter medicine full-time in 2013 with Spay Neuter Project of LA (SNP LA) and then on to Seattle Humane Society. At SHS, she ultimately held the position of Lead Veterinarian and head of the WSU program, where she instructed senior veterinary students in high quality, high volume spay/neuter (HQHVSN) techniques and the importance of caring for our homeless pet population. During that time, she studied and gained her certificate in Nonprofit Leadership as well as a Master’s Degree in Shelter Medicine from the University of Florida.

Dr. Waters moved on to accept a position as Medical Director of Feral Cat Spay Neuter Project where she oversaw their surgical clinic and developed their mentorship and transportation programs. She later accepted a position as Adjunct Professor with the University of Florida where she developed and now teaches a (virtual) Master’s level course on designing and implementing HQHVSN programs.

Currently, Dr. Waters works as a shelter consultant, serves on the board of directors for Animals Balance, and is actively building her family business. She lives on beautiful San Juan Island with her husband, their two young daughters, their American Shelter Dog, and four ridiculous rescue goats. In her spare time she loves to run, hike, mountain bike, cook, drink wine, and take the goats for walks.
Furry Factoid
Cats are the sleepiest of all mammals. They spend 16 hours of each day sleeping. With that in mind, a seven-year-old cat has only been awake for two years of its life!
Save the Date!
Thank you for celebrating World Spay Day “virtually” with us this year. Next year, we hope to be able to celebrate together at the “Spay-ghetti” dinner.

So, save the date - February 22, 2022! 

APS-FH relies solely on donations from the community and grants to complete its mission to help our four-legged-friends. Donations of any amount are greatly needed and appreciated. If it is in your budget and you would like to help, your donation can help all our animals. Simply click the donate button below.
Thank you!
shelter@apsfh.com • (360) 378-2159