We spent all day Tuesday, February 22nd (for Wendy it was 20+ hours, the rest of us about 18!) traveling to Asheville NC to spend 5 hours with the Humane Alliance.
First we have to thank Allison Burgess and John Hirsh MD, for going through this ordeal of travel: 4 planes, about 8 hours and a reroute through Houston TX?
The facility that the Alliance has built is truly remarkable, 13,000 square feet, one level and all glass walls in the interior. As you walk in you are faced with surgical suites, each with a “team” and 2 operating tables. Hanging from the ceilings are flexible collection tubes that are used to aspirate the pets as they receive their carefully monitored oxygen and isoflurane anesthetic. Everyone is in scrubs with the vets having colorful skull covers. They do about 120 procedures daily! With as many as 80-100 trucked in with special vehicles from as far away as 150 miles. They are usually done with surgeries by late-afternoon and then hold the pets overnight before being released to owners the next day.
We were privileged to have 5 hours with the key directors there, including the executive director, the key administrator and the chief vet, all are impassioned, dedicated remarkable individuals directing the clinic and training new teams to go to other cities (they have trained over 90 teams!).
After the meeting, we came to the following conclusions relative to our clinic in St. Louis:
We will initially not bus but work diligently to get the word out about what we do, and who we are targeting.
- Target market low-income households, shelter pets and rescue pets
- We will, early on, advise the vet community that we are not competing with them and are after low-income families who cannot afford to get it done through normal veterinary channels. Working to build relationships with the local veterinary community.
- We believe that if we can do 40 procedures daily, with fees ranging between $30 and $65 per surgery, we can break even in our operations.
- We would like to conduct a wellness clinic on one weekend day a month and use a vet from the community to service it.
- Reach out to contacts provided by HA regarding the veterinary community, insurance needs, location and marketing.
- We are currently looking for about 5,000 sq ft space, possibly in a strip center with adequate parking.
- After securing a building, we will begin to work on PetSmart grant application and other available grant application(s)
- After securing space the HA will lay out an ideal diagram, we will then get bids for the build out.
- About 30 days before the space is ready we will advertise for the team: a special vet, 2 techs and 2 assistants.
- 2 weeks before opening the team will go to HA for training.
- We intend to do a “soft” opening hoping to do about 15/day the first month and ramping up to 40/day in approximately 6 months.
We have a great team of advisors and board members that we feel insure our success.
We welcome any input and/or pledges of funds.