For Community Leaders    For Vets    For Pet Owners    For Volunteers

For Community Leaders

How many events has the Task Force done?
Since its creation in 1996, the Montana Spay / Neuter Task Force has helped create 50 pet care events in host communities in Montana and South Dakota, and sterilized over 20,000 animals!

How will a visit from the MTSNTF improve our community?
A visit from the Montana Spay / Neuter Task Force is meant to be the centerpiece of a community-wide “Pet Care Week” educational celebration. The entire community will be involved, including schools, Senior Citizen groups, and civic clubs. By including the traditions and uniqueness of your community, your town will own the event and become empowered while learning about pet care and humane solutions to pet over-population. Not having to kill healthy, adoptable pets and demonstrating caring creates a more civil society. After a Task Force visit, local shelters experience a reduction in the numbers of animals taken in, which saves money for the community and improves the quality of life for everyone.

How can we get the Task Force to visit our community?
With assistance from a local event coordinator, the city council or its equivalent must invite the Task Force. Arrangements will be made according our schedule and the availability of your local Fairgrounds or other public or private facility. If we are unable to visit your community that year, we will put you on the list for the next year.

What do we need to provide?
The community provides a building with lights, warm and cold water, tables, chairs, and electrical outlets. Clinics are usually held at the Fairgrounds, but they can also be held in school gymnasiums, civic centers, or fire stations. A letterhead from the community with which to invite the vets will also be needed. The local event coordinator will make arrangements to provide food and lodging for the vets and out-of-town volunteers. These are usually donated by local businesses.

For Veterinarians

How can I help?
There are many ways to participate in your local “Pet Care Week” event. Local vets are always invited to join MTSNTF vets at the demonstration Clinic, to observe or to participate. If you don’t have time to visit the clinic, perhaps you would like to share your knowledge of the importance of fixing pets with a classroom, or a civic group like the Rotary Club, or Kiwanis. If you have a dog scale you could lend to the event, that would be very helpful too!

How will this affect my business?
Your local “Pet Care Week” will be an educational event for the entire community. The project will involve the schools and community and civic groups. The focus will be pet care and animal over-population issues. The MTSNTF demonstration clinic will be the centerpiece of “Pet Care Week”. The clinic is targeted to assist people in your community who don’t normally visit veterinarians. The majority of the clients have never had a pet fixed before. While at the event, they see the entire community volunteering together for the benefit of the animals. They usually gain an appreciation of their own pets, and are more likely to visit a vet in the future. Local vets are highly visible during the event. It is a wonderful public relations opportunity. Your presence will be greatly appreciated and remembered by the local volunteers (who are already your customers) and by the pet owners, who may become your customers.

For Pet Owners

Are the surgeries performed by real vets?
Yes. Most of the MTSNTF vets travel to several events like this each year. They are an excellent team, and have lots of experience at these kinds of events. Local vets often participate as well.

Do I have to make an appointment?
Yes! When you call, we will take down the information about you and your pets. (Since they are fixed in order of special-needs animals first, we need everyone’s information before we can schedule appointment times.) Two weeks before the event we will call you with your appointment time. One week before we will call again to remind you!

How many animals may I bring?
There is no limit. Appointments are made first called, first served. Do not wait to call -get your name on the list!

Can you do barn cats?
Yes, our vet techs have lots of experience with feral cats. It is OK if they don’t have any shots. If you can trap them, we can fix them. Ask your local animal shelter, or animal control if you need to borrow a trap. Remember, your barn cats must be kept warm and indoors after the surgery.

Can you fix pregnant animals?
Yes. Please make sure the person taking your information knows your pet is pregnant, as special needs animals are fixed first.

My pet has nursing babies — can you fix her?
Yes. Make sure the person taking your information knows your pet has nursing babies, as special needs animals are fixed first. Keep the babies with the mother when you bring her in. Depending on the age, the vets may be able to fix the babies as well. They are experts at early age spay and neuter. Do not take food or water away from nursing mothers or the babies before the surgery.

How old does my pet need to be?
Puppies and kittens are routinely fixed at these clinics. The American Veterinary Medical Association endorses early-age spay/neuter. A number of studies show that cats as young as eight weeks have no problems later in life due to early age spay/ neuter. Young kittens bounce back faster from the procedures than older kittens or cats do after the alter. Some veterinarians may not be familiar with the procedure, but MTSNTF vets have a lot of experience performing surgeries on very young kittens and puppies. Our vets will determine whether animals under 6 weeks of age, or over 10 years of age should be fixed.

How do I prepare my pet for surgery?
Very important: No food after 6 pm or water after 10 pm the night before. Unless they are nursing mothers or are younger than 8 weeks of age.

Should I bring anything for my pet during the clinic?
All dogs need to be on a leash, and should have a crate they can wait in while they are in line. All cats need to be in crates or a box with holes punched for air flow. A towel in the crate would make your pet more comfortable. If you don’t have a crate, try to borrow one. If you can’t bring a crate, the Task Force will have holding crates for pre and post-surgery. Bring a blanket to keep your pet warm during the trip home.

Should I stay with my pet?
Owners are encouraged to stay to take advantage of this educational opportunity while their pet is at the clinic. Dog owners especially are encouraged to be with their dog while they are waiting in line, and during recovery. If you can’t be there, it will be OK, but your dog may be more comfortable if you are there.

How long does it take?
It varies for each animal. It usually takes 5-6 hours, but some animals take longer to wake up than others. When you bring your pet in, we will ask for a phone number where we can reach you that day, so you can take them home when they wake up. Better yet, you are welcome to stay and volunteer while your pet is at the clinic!

Does my pet need special care after the surgery?
Yes. You will be given very specific After-Care instructions when you pick up your pet. For instance:
* Your animals will not be able to regulate their body temperature until the effects of the anesthetics wear off. They must be kept warm and indoors.
* For a day or two, they should be confined so they can’t jump off things like steps and furniture. It is a good idea to make a bed for them in a small room, like your bathroom. If your pet is active, they may pull loose their surgical sutures.
* For male dogs 2 years or older, or over 50 pounds, it is important that they are kept quiet and confined for 5 days. If they are active, the scrotum may become swollen, causing discomfort for the dog and concern for the owner.
* Don’t let your pet get wet for 7 days.
Make sure you understand these instructions, and keep your paperwork when you leave the clinic! The paperwork will also come in handy when you license your dog – proof of sterilization gives you a big discount in most communities.

What if something goes wrong?
Most problems occur when the After-Care instructions are not followed. In your After-Care instructions there will be a number you can call during the clinic, and another local number you can call when the Task Force has left town. If there is a serious problem, you will be directed to a local after-care vet who has made arrangements with the Task Force.

When do the stitches come out?
Our vets use stitches that dissolve, so you won’t have to take the stitches out. (Don’t let your pet get wet for 7 days!)

How can I help?
We can always use donations of blankets, comforters, and towels, and pillow cases. (no sheets) You can donate a dish to feed the vets. There are so many ways to volunteer! We always need help with laundry, crate cleaning, help in the kitchen, dog and cat recovery, set-up and tear-down, and dog and cat check-in. Contact the event coordinator if you want to volunteer in a certain area. You don’t need to make an appointment to volunteer – If you just show up, we will put you somewhere!

Is this clinic open to anyone regardless of income?
We turn no one away, but the purpose of this clinic is to assist those who really need the help, and who might not go to a vet otherwise.

How much does it cost?
Most Task Force Clinics are by donation only. Some events ask for a small fee (about $20) to help cover the cost of medical supplies. The every-day price of spay / neuter may vary widely in your town, and we encourage everyone to support their local veterinarians. No matter what the price of the surgery, the price of NOT fixing your pet is likely to be much higher:

  1. A pregnancy may endanger your pet and bring major vet bills. Also, in the long run, indiscriminate breeding of pets may cause increased feral populations and euthanasias. Remember even kittens can start mating as early as six months.
  2. Unaltered cats and dogs have urges that can make them irritable and anxious. They may yowl or whine, fight with other cats, and/or destroy objects in the house.
  3. Whole male cats and dogs are more likely to roam, fight and spray indiscriminately. Research indicates that 80% of dogs hit by cars are unaltered males.
  4. Spaying a female before her first heat protects her from risks inherent in any pregnancy and the risk of uterine, ovarian, and mammary cancers. Spaying also protects her from the stresses of pregnancy.
  5. A whole female pet may mark your home with urine when in heat.
  6. Even indoor-only house cats often find ways to get outdoors when sexual urges peak. Whether they disappear for good (due to panic, accidents, or predators) or they return home, kittens may result from the foray.
  7. Whole male cats have very potently odorous urine, which, even if they don’t mark their territory, markedly increases litter box chores.
  8. Alters tend to be less subject to “moods” due to hormone changes than whole animals.
  9. Cats who soil outside their litter box may stop soiling if spayed or neutered. However, it may take up to two months after the operation to achieve this effect, so it’s best to alter early, before such behavior can start.

What will I gain from this clinic?
Volunteers and pet owners can expect a a great education and good time. All will be rewarded with joy, friendship, a sense of teamwork and community involvement, a scratch behind the ears, and a tummy rub.

For Volunteers

Who can volunteer?
Who can volunteer?
Animal lovers of all ages. Pet owners who bring in their animals. Local medical and veterinary professionals including: nurses, massage therapists, veterinary technicians, and animal care takers. Members of civic clubs. Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, 4H kids. Teachers. Children (under 13 with an adult, please). Even lawyers and politicians are welcome!

How many volunteers will be needed?
At least 40 during the clinic. We can’t have too many volunteers.

What do you need help with?
Volunteer Jobs to Cover Before the Event:

  1. People to make and put up posters advertising Pet Care Week and the clinic.
  2. An individual or committee to take the phone calls of people making appointments for the clinic. They will take down the owner and pet information, and when enough people have called to fill the clinic, the schedule will be figured out in order of special needs animals first. Then the people will be called two weeks before the event and given their appointment times. They should be called a second time, just before the event, as a reminder.
  3. Someone to send press releases to your local newspapers, TV, and radio stations, advertising your Pet Care Week, and asking for volunteers. Classified ads are also very effective. The advertising committee should also approach the local businesses that have those signs with the change-able letters. Ask them if they will put up something special during your event, like “Thanks to the Montana Spay / Neuter Task Force” or “Pet Care Week” or “To Neuter is Cuter!” (Anything to celebrate your event! It’s great to see Thank-You’s all over town!) Offer to change the letters if they don’t have time.
  4. An individual or committee to organize free lodging for the out of town volunteers. Vets and vet techs should have motel rooms (many times a local motel or B&B will donate lodging). Out of town volunteers can stay in the homes of local volunteers if you can’t get enough motel rooms.
  5. A committee to organize the meals for the vets and volunteers during the clinic. Encourage local restaurants and church groups to donate food for the event. Local grocery stores will usually donate coffee, tea,paper plates, cups and plastic silverware.
  6. An educational committee to organize school assemblies or speakers for civic groups. Encourage local school teachers to incorporate pet care and spay / neuter education in their classes during pet care week.

Volunteer Jobs to Cover During the Event:
Recommend 3 shifts: 7:30 to Noon, Noon to 4pm, 4pm to Close
(many volunteers choose 2 shifts, or all day shifts)

  1. Set Up – (2-3 people) Set up tables and get everything in position for the clinic.
  2. Greeters (1-2): Meet people in the parking lot, tell them where to go, make sure cats are in crates and dogs are on leashes. Bring owners crates or leashes if needed, make sure animals are leashed or crated in the car, so they don’t get loose in the parking lot. Kids are great at this job.
  3. Dog Check – In (3-4): sign people in, take owner’s phone # to call when dogs are ready to go home, tag and collar the dogs, weigh the dogs, put dogs in crates. A good job for community leaders, anyone can do this job.
  4. Dogs in waiting – crates (1) : Move dogs in line from check-in to pre-op, clean crates. Kids can do this job.
  5. Vet techs in Dog Pre-op (2-4): assist the vet techs, knock out , shave, and scrub the dogs. This is a good job for vet techs, nurses, people good with dogs. Need a strong guy here to carry unconscious dogs to vet tables!
  6. Vet techs in Dog Section (1 per vet): assist vets during surgery (usually come with the Task Force)
  7. Dog Recovery (lots of people): stay with dogs and keep them warm until they wake up. Good job for the Dog Owners, nurses, anyone, even kids.
  8. Dog Check-Out (1): Call owners when dog is ready. Read the after care instructions to the owners. Tell people to keep their paper work. Anyone can do this job- Someone with a cell phone.
  9. Cat Check-In (3-4): sign people up, take owner’s phone # to call when pet is ready to go home, tag and collar cats. Anyone can do this job – high visibility job for community leaders.
  10. Cats in Waiting – crates (1) : moves cats in order from check – in to pre-op. Kids can do this.
  11. Cat Pre-Op (3-4): Vet techs and assistants weigh, knock-out, tape cats to the boats, shave, and scrub the cats. Vet techs and nurses, people with experience.
  12. Cat Recovery (lots of people) : massage cats until they wake up. Great job for supervised kids. Nurses, anyone. This is the most popular job!
  13. Cat Vet Techs ( 1 per vet): assist vets during surgery (usually come with the Task Force).
  14. Cat Check – Out (1) : Call owners when cat is ready to be picked up. Read out loud the after care instructions to the owner. Tell owners to keep paper work. One person with a cell phone can do this.
  15. Autoclave ( 2 ) : collect used surgical instruments, sterilize, and return instruments to the vets. Look out for sharps! Dental assistants, nurses know how to use these machines – anyone can learn on the spot. Mature kids can also do this.
  16. Kitchen Coordinators (1-2): have food ready for volunteers and vets, make sure napkins and paper plate are always available, keep kitchen clean. Church ladies like this job!
  17. Errand Person (1): someone familiar with the area, to run errands as needed.
  18. Evening Clean-Up (1-2): empty trash, general clean -up. Anyone can do this.
  19. Last night Clean – Up (3-4) : sharps containers must be dropped off at local hospital to be properly disposed of. Crew to put away tables and clean up the building to original condition.
  20. LAUNDRY!! There are many ways to deal with the huge amounts of laundry you will have:
  1. Have every volunteer take a load home each night, wash it, and return the next morning.
  2. Have a crew go back and forth to the laundromat all day.
  3. Borrow lots of clean blankets, sheets, etc. from a local thrift shop. After the event, clean it all and return the bedding to the thrift shop.
  4. In bigger towns, the prison might clean the dirty laundry each night.

What should I wear to the clinic?
Long sleeved T-shirt, blue jeans, and comfortable shoes.

For Community Leaders    For Vets    For Pet Owners    For Volunteers

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