Spaying or neutering pets in Hollister can be a financial burden for many local residents, but it doesn’t have to be anymore.
That’s because the nonprofit SNIP Bus is making regular stops in town with its offering of low-cost spay/neuter services.
The bus was at the Veterans Memorial Building for two days last week, servicing dozens of animals each day it comes. Its Monterey County team comes about once a month and has been doing so since December.
Melanie Scherer bought the SNIP Bus in 2016 and now runs several chapters in the state, with the first one in La Quinta.
“I started it because I’ve been rescuer for so many years,” she said. “We were just band-aiding this problem.”
She said many people simply can’t afford the hundreds of dollars it costs to spay or neuter their animals.
“Even if they can, and I hear these stories every day, that is not the priority,” said Scherer, who has a home in Carmel.
Scherer isn’t alone on this mission, though.
Inside the SNIP bus last Tuesday, Dr. Jeff Fankhauser shared insights on the organization while performing surgery on a male dog. He’s been in practice for about 12 years, and said the first place he worked he gained a passion for the importance of spaying and neutering animals.
“I think spay-neuter is a good thing to do in general,” he said. “We’re just trying to prevent unwanted litters, which unfairly burden our shelters.”
Inside the bus, Fankhauser works efficiently, allowing him to perform as many surgeries as possible each day. On a daily basis, he said he can do about 30 procedures, whereas a shelter might do about 20. Depending on the size and type of animal, a surgery can take as few as a couple minutes, he said.
“There’s really not a lot to it,” he said.
He said it’s nice that SNIP is a nonprofit and noted how the organization generally takes a loss on each procedure. It’s a grassroots organization that relies heavily on donations for support.
Sherer said Hollister’s Police Chief David Westric, who also oversees animal control, has been very supportive. She said she uses Hollister as a positive example when talking in other communities.
She and others have pointed out how the Hollister shelter has seen vast improvements in the past year, after it became known that the facility was putting down a large volume of animals.
“Shelters were not designed to be killing machines,” she said.
SNIP has received crucial support from community members like Susan Dommert Hilden, who was volunteering outside the bus last week.
She mentioned how the bus costs about $3,000 per day to have it in Hollister. She credited public officials like Mayor Ignacio Velazquez, along with Supervisors Jim Gillio and Mark Medina, for embracing the concept.
Support has mounted since a 2017 county grand jury report found the Hollister shelter had put down about half of the animals it brought in the prior year.
“It’s different than it was a year ago,” she said about the number of animals put down. “A year ago, it was ugly.”
BY THE NUMBERS:
The number of animals impacted by SNIP in Hollister is 873, including shelter animals from the local shelter. In Hollister alone, SNIP has hosted 23 clinics, seven of which were for feral cats. The organization has snipped over 350 feral cats, while SNIP has spayed or neutered over 10,700 animals.