The Thunder Bay and District Humane Society says it's pushing for a local spay and neuter clinic because it says Thunder Bay needs a more affordable spay and neuter service.

CBC News reported on Tuesday some local pet owners are driving to Duluth to get their pets fixed at cheaper prices.

At the Humane Society shelter on Rosslyn Road, executive director Melanie Blanchette sees the consequences when people don't have their pets fixed.

Melanie Blanchette

Melanie Blanchette, executive director of the Thunder Bay Humane Society, says a local vet clinic gives the group discounted services for animals in their care, but it's still costly for the charity. The Humane Society spays and neuters all pets before allowing them to be adopted. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

"We get a lot of abandoned animals that are pregnant and carrying.  So we have litters due in the back any day now.”

Blanchette said the solution is a spay and neuter clinic that offers the procedures at lower prices.  

“There's such a need, we would make the room to have it happen here on site or have a mobile clinic on site.”

What's also needed to make it happen, she noted, is for veterinarians to volunteer their time.

"The thing is that we need to get the vet clinics on board,” she said.

“What we need is the veterinarians who are willing to do the work [and] who are willing to volunteer their time to be able to do these mass spay and neuters — even if it was once a month."

'Major capital project'

Thunder Bay and District Humane Society chair Judy Decicco — who also co-chairs the Ontario SPCA's service to the north committee — noted a spay and neuter facility could take up to five years to get up and running.

"We have to determine which is the best type of spay-neuter clinic for our area," she said, adding that options could include a mobile unit or using space at the Humane Society.  

"If we did ... open one ... at our facility on Rosslyn Road, that's a major capital project," Decicco said. "Funds would have to be raised, we'd have to do some renovations and hire a veterinarian."

Decicco said the Humane Society approached local vets several years ago to discuss spay and neuter options, but the idea "just didn't get off the ground" at the time. 

But Decicco noted that was before spay and neuter clinics opened elsewhere in the province, and the Humane Society did not present a full business plan back then.    

Thunder Bay’s manager of licensing and enforcement who oversees Animal Services said spay and neuter clinics work well in southern Ontario. Ron Bourret said he believes that, if the infrastructure is in place, veterinarians in the city will help out.

Ron Bourret

Ron Bourret, Thunder Bay's manager of Licensing and Enforcement, says local vets have been very helpful working with the city's Animal Services department and provide spay or neuter services at a discount to animals in the department's care. (CBC)

“If the Humane Society gets something going ... I don't think the vets ... would buck it, as long as it was well-organized and set up for them,” he said.

From his perspective, Bourret said the need for a spay-neuter clinic is clear. Last year, Animal Services euthanized 800 cats.