Having no air conditioning in Houston can suck, but not having it during surgery can be potentially fatal. That’s the problem facing the Spay-Neuter Assistance Program in Houston. They are currently raising money to replace their malfunctioning HVAC in their clinic.
“Each of SNAP’s clinic facilities requires multiple Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioning (HVAC) units in order to keep the internal building temperatures controlled,” SNAP says in their online appeal. “At our Houston Clinic, we have three HVAC units. One unit specifically covers the surgery area in the clinic where our fur patients are housed. Over the last few days, the HVAC unit that provides temperature regulation for this area of the clinic has been malfunctioning. It is imperative that the temperature in this area be regulated to ensure patient safety and comfort.”
Thus far the organization has been able to continue as normal thanks to the (mostly) low temperatures in late February. However, as any Houstonian is aware that could change at a moment’s notice and bring potentially deadly heat into the operating room. SNAP is desperately seeking a way to avoid that and continue their mission.
“No animals have been injured due to the failure of our HVAC system at SNAP,” says Dr. Mary Kate Lawler, Executive Director at SNAP. “We are lucky actually that it failed now, when the weather is mostly cooler. If the temperatures became too high outside then we would just cancel surgery until we could get the HVAC fixed. The wellbeing of the animals in our care is always our first priority.”
At this time SNAP has raised roughly half of its $5,000 goal. Interested parties can donate at the link above.
SNAP began in 1994 as part of The Fund for Animals, and was incorporated as its own non-profit in 1999. Their pioneering mobile spay and neuter clinic system has been emulated all over the country as a way to help control the homeless pet population. As of 2015 they had performed over 500,000 surgeries on animals, with Lawler herself performing over 100,000 in her career.
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The homeless pet population in the Greater Houston area has been estimated to be as high as 1.2 million, but that number is likely exaggerated. Regardless, there are a lot of them in the city, and SNAP is one of the organizations attempting to limit this by reducing their ability to breed. They can’t do that in unsafe temperatures brought about by malfunctioning equipment.
Outreach programs, such as the upcoming World Spay Day on February 26, are an essential part of reducing the number of homeless cats and dogs. Laws requiring animals to be sterilized by their owners have been unsuccessful according to Friends for Life executive director Salise Shuttlesworth in 2018.
"It is time to realize that animal welfare and social welfare are connected,” Shuttlesworth told KHOU. "Do we create a penal structure that punishes people who don’t have funds or transportation or time from their job and spend tax money impounding their animals and charging them fees they can’t pay, only to result in killing the unclaimed?”
SNAP, like Friends for Life, offers free surgeries to low-income pet owners. Another reason to help them continue their mission.