Today marked the beginning of our spay/neuter efforts for 2009. We had essentially shut down our trapping and transport operations for December of last year and January of this year - it's hard to do this in the depths of winter plus, after doing 526 cats last year, we needed a break...
We were supposed to bring in 12 cats to PAWS today, but due to some cats being ill and others 'belonging' to a caretaker who just didn't get it together in time, we only brought in 3 cats on this trip. It's a long trip and a lot of work for just 3 cats, but still worth it.
For those of you who don't know the process, here's a brief summary. Some days before we are scheduled to go into PAWS (the clinic in Chicago we use for nearly all of our Spay/Neuter operations) our president, Tammy McAuley, puts out the word to her various contacts. There's a delicate balance that goes on between what people want to do, what they actually can do, and how many cats we can transport at once. Tammy does this balancing act, coordinating all of the trapping activities. In the day or two before the trip to PAWS, the cats start arriving at Tammy's. She keeps them in their traps either in her garage, if the weather permits, or else in her basement. The transport driver (usually me, but now we have some other volunteers helping now too) arrives at Tammy's at 6:00am on the morning of the transport. It takes 5-10 minutes to load the cats into my car and to get the paperwork, the checkbook and microchips (we provide our own microchips as we can do it more cheaply than if we buy them from PAWS).
Then the drive to PAWS - about 45 minutes to an hour in the morning, depending on traffic. Once at the PAWS clinic, I bring the cats into the clinic and then sign in at the desk and wait for my name to be called. I can wait from anywhere between 10 minutes and 30 minutes, depending on how many people have signed in in front of me. Once my name is called, the ladies at the front desk (wonderfully efficient and friendly people) process the paperwork for me and then I write them a check (or give them Vouchers) for all of the scheduled surgeries. If I have no 'friendly' cats (i.e., the trip is ferals only) I can then leave. If I do have friendlies (as I did today), then I have to wait for the vet to exam them. This usually takes another 15-30 minutes before I'm called. Once done, I then leave PAWS. I left my house at 5:30 this morning and arrived back home about 9:00am - about 3&1/2 hours for the morning process.
I leave for PAWS to pick up the cats at 4:00pm and get to the clinic about 5:15pm. This hour and 15 minutes is a typical afternoon drive time. I sign in, again, to let them know I am here to pick up the cats. Usually I have the cats and am out the door in 15-20 minutes, but today I stayed to visit with Rochelle Michalek, the Executive Director of PAWS, and Sue Robinson, the Community Outreach Director of PAWS. During our conversation, they learned that we had just received a large donation of Sheba wet chicken cat food from PURRS Naperville (more about this later). They were short on wet cat food, but had plenty of dry, so we arranged a swap which I'll be doing on Saturday. This is the way it should work - everyone helping each other.
By the time I got back to Tammy with the 3 cats, it was about 8:30pm - an hour later than normal. Tammy had alerted the people who had brought the cats to Tammy and they came to her house to pick up 'their' cat.
So, my morning time spent on this was about 3&1/2 hours while the afternoon time was about 4&1/2 hours (an hour longer than normal) for a total of 8 hours today. A successful start to the 2009 Spay/Neuter season...