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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Valley Humane Society set to open its new clinic

Uploaded: Dec 29, 2022
January is shaping up to be a great month for Melanie Sadek and the Valley Humane Society.
After a challenging year of construction on its operating room in an old home on Spring Street in downtown Pleasanton, the organization will move into the refurbished structure in the first quarter (updated from earlier). It’s a project that they thought would be about $600,000—it soon doubled to $1.2 million once the architect saw it and will hit $1.8 million when it’s finished this quarter-- the funds were raised for the facility in addition to the normal operating budget of about $1.3 million and there's still a shortfall that needs to be closed.
The opening will fulfill a vision and a need that Sadek identified for the board four years ago.
The organization had relied on local vets, one in particular, for spay/neuter services because they will not allow an adoption until the pet has been fixed. She’s led the 35-year-old organization for 11 ½ years and seen the situation evolve to where she once might have 10 animals fixed in a week, it fell to five and got more expensive.
Once the new clinic opens, volume will not be an issue. The staff veterinarian has been on board for three years and already is using the valley SPCA facility once a week to prepare for the high-volume that Sadek plans on Spring Street. She said the typical vet might do 4-5 procedures a week—the Spring Street clinic will be doing 35-45 daily. It will handle Valley Humane’s animals and also cover services for other rescue agencies. She noted that cooperation between the rescue agencies is a strong point and there are about 175 such organizations in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
The new facility will join the headquarters on Nevada Street and provide more space for staff that has grown from 5 to 25 over Sadek’s time.
She said California euthanizes about 40,000 animals each year, second only to Texas in that sad category. The state struggles with a shortage of veterinarians and the transformation of the business. Only two California universities have programs to train vets and more people are applying than they can accommodate. And there’s the trend of corporations buying up practices when owners are ready to retire or heavily in debt after finishing school. The corporate-owned clinics have sent prices for services soaring.
Those prices have resulted in pet owners of lesser means turning in their animals for adoption because they could not afford the vet services. Charging a fee for services at the new clinic will result in a fund to provide those services so people can keep their pet.
Another challenge is that the pandemic shutdown all spay/neuter procedures to preserve protective gear for hospitals—dental offices were closed for that same reason.
She estimates that there are 3 million animals making babies that would have been fixed before the shutdown. That’s meant an explosion in the population of feral cats, a problem we will live with until nature takes its course and that will take a while in the suburbs with few natural predators other than the occasional coyote. My bride saw a coyote early one evening this month in the parking lot of Resurrection Lutheran Church on Amador Valley Boulevard in Dublin—presumably it accessed the area from the nearby drainage canal.
When asked if supported a mandatory spay/neuter law, she said she did not because there wasn’t vet capacity to achieve it. She know the Sacramento scene well because she serves on the legislative committee for the state association of rescue clinics.
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