Thunder Bay·Audio

Thunder Bay vet costs drive pet owners to Duluth clinic

Some Thunder Bay pet owners say veterinarian prices are so high they're going to Minnesota to have their cats and dogs fixed.
The Thunder Bay Humane Society says an over-abundance of kittens in the city is compounded when cats aren't spayed or neutered. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

Some Thunder Bay pet owners say veterinarian prices are so high they're going to Minnesota to have their cats and dogs fixed.

A Duluth clinic offers spaying and neutering for a fraction of the price charged by veterinary hospitals in Thunder Bay.

Pet owner Kim Murley said high vet costs contribute to the problem of abandoned cats in Thunder Bay.   

"There's a lot of seniors out there. There's students [who] are living in apartments that have cats,” she said.

“If it was more affordable, you wouldn't be seeing all these animals abandoned on the sides of the road. In apartment buildings, people are moving out and there are cats left."

Murley took in a stray cat last fall and is now getting her pet fixed.

"I know Thunder Bay has an overpopulation of cats and I don't want to contribute to that at all,” she said.

However, she will take the cat to a spay and neuter clinic in Duluth, where she says it’s relatively inexpensive to have the procedure done.

"It's $49 to have your cat fixed ... The lowest vet here in Thunder Bay was $239."

Hospital vs. clinic

The demand is so high for the Duluth clinic that Murley said she has found a woman in Thunder Bay who, for a donation, will take her cat to the clinic on her behalf. The woman routinely travels to Duluth and often takes people's pets with her.

Ontario Veterinary Medical Association president Dr. Robert Van Delst says the availability of follow-up care close to home is something to consider before taking a pet across the border for surgery. (Supplied)

The Ontario Veterinary Medical Association said it doesn't have a position on spay and neuter clinics, but president Dr. Bob Van Delst said he urges pet owners to consider the services offered at a veterinary hospital versus a clinic. 

"There may be some ... injections given before surgery that are going to help minimize ... pain,” he explained.

“There's also the consideration of 'is there intravenous fluids ... given during the surgery?'"

The availability of follow-up care close to home is something else to think about, Van Delst said.

The provincial association said vets are independent and set their own fees, but it does publish a suggested fee guide.

Spaying and neutering prices in Thunder Bay appear to be consistent with those suggested fees.

Some Ontario cities have spay and neuter clinics, but Thunder Bay does not. On Wednesday, CBC News in Thunder Bay will hear from the Humane Society on its efforts to bring one to the city.

Below, Ontario Veterinary Medical Association's estimated costs for spaying and neutering.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story contained a photo caption stating that kittens at the Thunder Bay and District Humane Society shelter would be euthanized if they were not adopted. However, the shelter is a no-kill facility and does not euthanize animals.
    Apr 23, 2014 11:06 AM ET

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