The Importance of Fixing Your Family Pet

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Many of us can easily remember Bob Barker closing out every episode of "The Price is Right" with his iconic saying:

"This is Bob Barker reminding you to help control the pet population—have your pets spayed or neutered."

Barker's message is one that C-SNIP, a non-profit organization providing affordable spay and neuter procedures to animals in West Michigan since 2001, is deeply passionate about. The organization began as a first-of-its-kind in the region mobile clinic performing reduced-cost spay/neuter procedures. The mobile unit eventually transitioned to a stationary clinic, with C-SNIP having now performed over 200,000 procedures to significantly drop the rate of euthanasia in the region's animal shelters.

Sharon Caldwell-Newton, Executive Director of C-SNIP, emphasized the importance of having your family pet fixed by recalling standards from decades past.

"Back in the 70s, 80s, and even into the 90s, spay/neuter was not a very common procedure. And as a result, animal shelters around the country were overly crowded; there were just far too many animals born every year and there weren't enough homes," Caldwell-Newton said.

The unfortunate reality of that overcrowding overpopulation issue led to approximately 15 to 20 million dogs and cats being euthanized at shelters every year.

"The nation and the community began to realize that there's a better way to control the population than euthanasia, and they saw spay/neuter as the most effective solution," Caldwell-Newton explained. "By embracing spay/neuter—and having it be an affordable and accessible procedure for the everyday pet owner—we're able to prevent that overpopulation issue from rearing its ugly head again."

In addition to managing the overpopulation of pets, spay/neuter procedures also come with additional behavioral and health benefits for your fuzzy best friend, including a reduced cancer risk. C-SNIP also recently opened the Community Well Pet Clinic for reduced cost wellness prevention services and treatments—from treating ear, eye and skin issues to vaccinations and overall wellness visits.

"We see about 500 to 600 Pets every month at our new Community Well Pet Clinic," Caldwell-Newton said, noting the importance of having regular preventative care before minor issues turn into larger, more costly ones.

In order for C-SNIP to offer their services at an affordable rate, the organization relies heavily on the community for volunteers and financial support. One of the ways C-SNIP engages the community is through their annual Wags and Whiskers event, which was recently held in October at Studio D2D. Tickets for the event's fourth year sold out two weeks in advance, and the organization was able to raise approximately $35,000—an amount that will help underwrite about 500 surgical procedures for West Michigan dogs and cats.


"From the standpoint of as an organization, Wags and Whiskers is both an opportunity to raise friends as well as to raise funds, spread the word about the mission of the organization and generate revenue that will allow us to have even greater impact with the pets here in the West Michigan region," Caldwell-Newton said. "Affordable and accessible pet care is the basis of our organization. No pet should be neglected when it comes to veterinary care, so we aim to be the place of choice for companion animals to be treated."

When individuals give to C-SNIP, donations go to a special Client Assistance Fund.

"Even though our regular fees are very affordable and reduced, we know there are people out there in the community who love their pet and want to take care of them, but can't afford even our reduced fees," Caldwell-Newton said. "Our Client Assistance Fund allows us to do a sliding fee scale for those pet owners who need even a little more an extra financial help in order to be to afford the cost of a spay/neuter, or another procedure we offer. And of course, we need the community as ambassadors to help educate the public about our mission and that we exist."

To put things into perspective: C-SNIP used 12,479 feet of suture material in 2020 alone—that's long enough to circle 34.3 football fields.

To learn more about C-SNIP and how you could donate and/or get involved, visit C-SNIP.

Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for West Michigan Woman.

 Photo courtesy of C-SNIP.

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