Fixing the problem in Connecticut

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1999:

WESTBROOK, Ct.––If the
Guinness Book of Records had a line for
most animals fixed in a year by a mobile clinic,
the Vernon A. Tait All-Animal Adoption,
Preservation & Rescue Fund’s TEAM
Mobile Feline Unit would be in it––twice.
Put into service on March 1, 1997,
the TEAM unit had by March 1, 1998 fixed
8,000 cats, at $35 each including all standard
vaccinations. That shattered the old mark of
just over 6,000 animals fixed set by Jeff
Young of the Denver-based Planned Pethood
Plus mobile clinic back in 1992.
Then, from March 1, 1998 to
March 1, 1999, the TEAM unit fixed another
10,000 cats, for a two-year total of 18,200:
more low-cost neutering operations than the
six Connecticut Humane Society facilities
appear to have done in the past five years,
and more than all but a handful of the biggest
and busiest fixed-site clinics anywhere.

TEAM president John Caltabiano,
DVM, thinks the TEAM unit can fix 12,000
cats from March 1, 1999 to March 1, 2000.
To do it, Caltabiano told A N IMAL
PEOPLE, “We just bought a new
unit, a 28-footer, with space to hold 100 cats
at a time in prep and recovery. We were
much more limited in the old 22-footer.”
Equipment, however, is only part
of the TEAM work. Cooperative arrangements
with 155 Connecticut veterinarians and
most humane organizations in the state are
also part of it. A great surgical record fends
off the criticism often directed at mobile clinics
by fixed-site vets: of the 18,200 cats
altered, only nine died of complications, for
a 99.6% success rate. The apparent national
average success rate is 96%.
There are also the “cat captains,” a
corps of local rescuers who are paid $5.00 for
each cat they bring in.
“In parts of Connecticut, people
now have to buy kittens,” Caltabiano claims.
“Vets and adoption shelters are bringing them
in from upstate New York. That’s helping
New York, too, because when those kittens
come here, they get fixed, and don’t join
the upstate New York breeding population.”
All of this is happening because 19
years ago Caltabiano, a native of Trumbull,
Connecticut, started the first mobile veterinary
clinic for small animals in the state. His
methods were soon emulated by another
Trumbull vet, Arnold Brown. As friendly
rivals, they competed to perfect the mobile
vet concept––and promoted low-cost neutering,
working closely with Spay USA founder
Esther Mechler, also of Trumbull.
Brown in 1992 relocated to
Vermont. There, he helped Peggy Larson,
DVM, whose mobile unit was already on the
road, in extending low-cost mobile neutering
service to the whole of that state.
Caltabiano, meanwhile, started his
own animal protection charity, initially just
called All-Animal Adoption. It ran an adoption
advice hotline, helped to place several
hundred pets, struggled to make ends meet,
and somehow caught the attention of 71-yearold
New Haven resident Vernon A. Tait.
Later in 1992, Tait drowned in
Lake Zoar, near Southbury, Connecticut.
He left All-Animal Adoption half of his
multi-million-dollar estate.
Between probate and delays associated
with restructuring All-Animal Adoption
to deliver low-cost neutering throughout
Connecticut, getting the TEAM unit on the
road took five years. Caltabiano and staff
have been making up for lost time ever since.

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