Lois Henry

Tuesday, Oct 16 2012 10:30 PM

LOIS HENRY: Kern's new spot for spaying and neutering

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    By Shelby Mack / The Californian

    Vicky Thrasher and Joann Keller check on dogs in the kennel at Critters Without Litters, a spay/neuter clinic that recently opened on Stine Road.

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    By The Californian file photo

    Cindy Stodola picks up her 7 and a half month old dog Makita after he was neutered at Critters Without Litters in this file photo.

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    By Shelby Mack / The Californian

    Joann and Larry Keller pose for a portrait in the sugery room at Critters Without Litters. The Kellers recently opened the high colume, low cost spay and neuter clinic to make an attempt to do something about the pet overpopulation problem in Bakersfield.

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By Lois Henry

This is the absolute best news I've heard in a long time.Bakersfield now has its own low-cost, high-volume spay/neuter clinic.


Related Info

4300 Stine Road, Suite 720


Appointments required

Vouchers accepted from recognized Kern County animal agencies and nonprofits.

Female dogs: 60 pounds and under -- $70; 61 pounds and over -- $80.

Male dogs: 60 pounds and under -- $65; 61 pounds and over -- $75.

Female cats: $50.

Male cats: $40.


KC Animal Control:

Voucher program for low-income (proof required) Kern residents. Cost $20 each, covers entire cost of spay/neuter. Specified vets and clinics only. Max. 4 per household. Limited number available each month. Can be purchased in person one Saturday per month throughout the county, usually at vaccination/licensing clinics. Call Ellie for more info.

* For dogs: Accuracy of dog's weight is essential when purchasing voucher.




AngelDogs Foundation:

Mobile s/n unit that is in Bakersfield frequently. Works with all voucher and grant programs. Fee includes microchip. Vaccinations available, $10 each.





Kern Humane Society:

Worth $10 to $15 to help with s/n cost for cats, $20 for dogs. Available in person on the first Saturday of each month, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. only. Max. 2 per address. Can be used at Mountain Communities SPCA, any AngelDogs clinic, Critters Without Litters, or local vet. Call for info in outlying areas. Can be combined with other organizations' vouchers.


Shop Hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday


Friends of the Kern County Animal Shelters Foundation:

Limited number available each month for $40 to offset cost of s/n. Limit 2 per household per calendar year. No income requirements. Send name, mailing address and number requested to fkcasf@gmail.com. If the month's allotment has been reached you will be put on a waiting list. Can be used at any AngelDogs clinic, Critters Without Litters and combined with other vouchers.

PO BOX 11494, 93389



Happy Kern Cats:

Two-year project (beginning fall 2011) of semi-monthly clinics to alter feral cats from the 93306 ZIP code.



Alpha Canine Sanctuary:

Have been funding periodic free or low-cost clinics at various locations. May be restarting vouchers for low income. Call for current details.

P.O. BOX 5517




Bakersfield SPCA:

Periodic low cost s/n clinics for cats in town at specified locations.


661-323-8353 ext2


Tehachapi Humane Society:

Free vouchers for varying amounts for residents of Tehachapi, Keene, Hart Flat, Caliente, Mojave, California City, Rosamond, Boron and North Edwards areas. Can be combined with Friends vouchers and used at most vets in Kern. Call first to confirm. Also fund $30 to $50 for feral cats.



661-823-0699 ext 1 for vouchers; ext 2 for feral cat program


Mountain Communities SPCA:

Cats: Transport cats to Valley Vet Non Profit Spay & Neuter Clinic in Simi Valley every two weeks for residents of 93222, 93225, & 93243 ZIP codes. Cost $47.50; vaccinations and testing also available for $10 each. Kern Humane and Friends vouchers accepted. Contact Becky at MCSPCA.

Dogs: Free vouchers for varying amounts based on income, for residents of 93222, 93225, & 93243 ZIP codes. Used with AngelDogs. First schedule with AngelDogs, then call MCSPCA for the voucher.



661- 245-3035


It's called Critters Without Litters and it's on Stine Road just south of White Lane. It opened Oct. 1 and the staff is raring to go.

Tell a friend. Tell 20!

Anyone can use Critters' services regardless of their income level.

Dogs cost between $65 and $80 depending on sex and size. Cats are $40 for males, $50 for females. (Vouchers from local organizations can bring down costs even more.)

For those not familiar with what it costs to fix a dog at regular vet offices, let me tell you, Critters' prices are far lower, in some cases less than half the going rate.

That's because they use a combination of grants and community donations, and they focus on one thing only -- animal sterilizations.

Using state-of-the-art equipment and techniques, their vets can work on a large number of animals.

At full throttle, they hope to do about 35 animals a day, said Larry Keller, who along with is wife, Joann, brought the clinic from a dream to a reality.

The Kellers' goal is to fix 8,400 Kern County cats and dogs in their first 12 months.

These people are very goal-oriented, so I have no doubt they will meet or exceed that number.

The Kellers, involved in animal issues for many years, started the "Fix Your Pit" voucher program a few years ago and ultimately gave out 2,000 vouchers.

They subsidized the vouchers through their business, Fortress Self Storage.

But working with veterinarians was complicated, it was getting expensive and they both realized the program was a drop in the bucket compared to the need, Larry Keller told me.

They decided late last year to simplify their lives and discontinue the program.

But then the county's euthanasia rates came out in the paper. It was depressing, as usual. Kern was forced to kill 19,797 animals in 2011. So far this year, the number is 15,202.

Joann and Larry went to a meeting of the county Animal Control Commission and asked about a low-cost spay neuter clinic.

"We were told, 'Great idea, next topic,'" Larry recalled.

Many animal advocates have longed for a low-cost clinic as the best option for reducing our animal population in order to keep cats and dogs from going to the shelter in the first place.

The county and several organizations have started voucher programs (see info box) but those have been the equivalent of a Band-Aid on sucking chest wound.

For a while, we also had HOPE, Fresno's low-cost, high volume spay/neuter clinic, which made two trips a month to truck Kern animals north. But, again, it just wasn't enough.

Larry and Joann talked about the possibility of opening their own low-cost, high-volume clinic. They decided to think on it.

But then things started to happen. Larry got in touch with Marvin Mackie of Long Beach, the grandfather of fast, safe, spay/neuter techniques and who has been helping start similar clinics up and down the state.

It so happened, a national veterinarian show was coming up in Las Vegas and Mackie, who owns a time-share there, persuaded Larry to go.

By the time Larry drove home a few days later, Joann knew they were no longer "considering" the clinic. It was a go.

From there, things moved fast.

The Kellers already owned the 2,600-square-foot building on Stine. It had been vacant awhile. Then they went after grants through Petsmart charities and training through Humane Alliance of South Carolina, which specializes in helping establish spay/neuter clinics.

I first wrote about Humane Alliance back in 2008 when I was trying to convince our board of supervisors to look at a mandatory spay/neuter law. The big obstacle, I was told, is that fixing animals is too expensive for many families. I researched Humane Alliance and felt it would be the perfect resource for our county to change direction.

My enthusiasm thudded up against the usual wall of governmental silence. So many others had hit that barrier over the years, we all thought maybe it just couldn't happen here.

But the Kellers don't understand the words "can't be done."

"I'm the kind of guy who just jumps off a cliff," Larry said, with his signature ear-to-ear grin.

Meanwhile, Joann did the paperwork, the logistics and the fretting.

By the end of summer, they were Humane Alliance's 111th approved clinic.

So far, they have one vet, Cattrina Lucas, and hope to get a second vet a couple of days a week.

"I'm hooked," Lucas said of the operation and its mission. She said the training at Humane Alliance was incredible.

"This is not a 'chop shop,'" she said.

For Kern's animal advocates, Critters is somewhat of a miracle.

"It's amazing!" gushed Marilyn Stewart, director of Alpha Canine. "Thank God!"

Now we have to do our part.

Get your animals over there and get them fixed.

Opinions expressed in this column are those of Lois Henry, not The Bakersfield Californian. Her column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. Comment at http://www.bakersfield.com, call her at 395-7373 or e-mail lhenry@bakersfield.com.

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