'He's actually a pretty good surgeon'
Harold Vosko, co-founder and president of Heaven Can Wait Animal Society, contends the numbers for the just completed fiscal
year show the positive effect low cost spay and neuter can have on euthanasia in a community. They show about 3,200 fewer
animals euthanized in Las Vegas animal shelters between May 1, 2011, and April 31, 2012.
"That's a pretty amazing feat given how bad the economy is with people giving up their animals left and right," he says. "Their
adoptions didn't go up 3,200; they went up maybe 100 to 200. It's not that they've adopted their way out. If you ask me, 12
years of 75,000 surgeries had a lot to do with it. And, at least 60,000 of those animals would never have been spayed or neutered
The focus at Heaven Can Wait is on feral cats, plus the two breeds of dogs most likely to die in Las Vegas animal shelters,
pit bulls and Chihuahuas. Vosko says Heaven Can Wait subsidized about 80 percent of surgeries.
"You can say this until you are blue in the face, but 90 percent of the resources go to shelters and 10 percent go to spay
and neuter," he says. "We spend all this money on rescue and it really doesn't save a life."
Vosko lauds PetSmart Charities for what he describes as a change in focus to include grants for spay and neuter activities.
"If we get a few more national groups like that who change their ways, it will be great," he says, adding he thinks you have
to see the clinic in action to really get a feel for the value of its work. The Sunday feral cat clinic, which is 10-years-old
and never refuses a cat, is "organized chaos at its best," he says, 60 volunteers, rolling racks with four shelves and four
cats to a shelf. "We wheel them in 16 at a time and wheel them out," he says. "It's pretty amazing to see." He thinks seeing
and doing the work made Ensign a supporter.
"You take a guy like John Ensign, who does his practice, then he winds up doing animals that come from the poorest of the
poor, from people that cannot afford to get their animal spayed, and it's an eye opening experience," Vosko says. "I really
didn't think he would be affected. He called up and said, 'Hey, I need some tissue time.' I said, 'Ok, come on down.' And
we ended up paying him during the week to do surgeries for us. He's actually a pretty good surgeon."