A Day at the Spay-Neuter Clinic

by Lee Chambers

Dakin’s Community Spay/Neuter Clinic offers high-quality, affordable spay/neuter surgery for dogs, cats and rabbits.  Our two veterinarians and their supporting teams follow the Humane Alliance Model for spay/neuter surgery (a nationally-recognized, efficient process that provides guidelines for high-quality surgery performed compassionately, quickly and effectively).  In a typical day, we can perform 35 surgeries.

Come behind the scenes and check it out...

The lobby is pretty busy when clients (and their pets) look over the paperwork after doors open at 8am.

People answer questions about when their pets ate their last meal, what medications they’re on, when they had their last vet visit and other information that helps us provide the best care.  Pets are then led to the back rooms off the lobby to begin the preparation for surgery.  First step is an examination to check their overall condition, and they are weighed, which will determine the correct level of anesthesia they’’ll get.

Medication is given to one of the first patients of the day

The first surgery happens around 9:45am.  Dogs are prepared for surgery first.  They are intubated, which involves inserting a tube into their trachea to provide oxygen and administer anesthesia in the safest way.  This pup is being shaved for surgery.

And it’s off to the operating room!

We have two veterinarians working in the Spay/Neuter Clinic, and each has a team of veterinary technicians supporting them.  In this photo Amber (on the left) is scrubbing this dog to prep for surgery while Jamie (in black) is checking the anesthesia to ensure a proper level.  Dr. Sherri (at right) is neutering a patient.

The vet techs bring in the biggest dogs first, and alternate male and female patients, a process that keeps the surgeons working at maximum efficiency (it takes less time to perform neuter surgery than spay surgery). Typically, three animals at a time are under anesthesia for the two surgeons working simultaneously. All eyes stay on the animals to be sure they're doing fine.

After surgery, patients recover at the beach.  We’re not talking about Cape Cod…this is a special section in the Clinic where patients regain consciousness.  They are placed on an anti-fatigue mat on the floor that is covered by an electric blanket with a sheet over it. There are also bear hugger machines that blow warm air in between layers of bedding.  Keeping animals warm is critical, since anesthesia impairs their ability to regulate body temperature (there’s a heating apparatus built into the operating table too!)  Staff monitor them closely as they “come to” after surgery.

Dog surgeries are usually completed by 11:45am.

At that point, male cats are examined and undergo prep for their surgeries.

Volunteers are vital to the work flow in the Clinic.  Every time a doctor operates, they require a sterilized pack of instruments.  Volunteers sterilize and wrap packs in advance, as well as countless other tasks to keep everyone working at maximum efficiency.  Thank you, volunteers!

The administrative staff keeps busy in-between pet intake and discharge by creating cage cards for each patient with treatment details on them (this keeps vets and vet techs up to speed on each patient's needs), answering lots of phone calls, returning messages, filing paperwork and keeping track of upcoming appointments, among other things.

At left, male cats are being readied for neutering.  To the right, Dr. Sherri and other staff members tend to some female cats recovering on the beach.

Sleepy kitty, post-surgery.  Three female cats are under anesthesia at the same time to keep the vets on an efficient schedule, but the staff is always alert for potential problems in case a patient needs extra attention.

At 3pm the administrative staff starts the discharge process by showing a video with post-surgical care info.  The moment that video ends, at 3:07pm, pets start being brought out to the lobby for a very happy reunion with their people.

Here's Rose, cuddling her pup, Princess.

All patients and their families have left by 3:30pm (unless a few are designated to recuperate overnight), so the staff tackles the less-than-glamorous end-of-day duties like cleaning the exam areas, cages and floors, taking out the trash and restocking supplies, while veterinarians finalize the day's paperwork.

Thanks for joining us for a day in Dakin's Community Spay/Neuter Clinic.  And thanks to the more than 90,000 patients (and their humans, of course) who trusted us to take good care of them.

If you'd like more information about booking an appointment, hours, location and more, click here.  


Many thanks to the terrific photographers whose work is included here.


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