“Do you use real veterinarians?”

That’s the kind of question that the staff at the Spay Spa & Neuter Nook, a low-cost, high-volume clinic, gets every now and then from people skeptical of the affordable price for these services.

“Yes, of course we use real vets!” says Kathy Rude, president of the animal rescue group that operates the Spay Spa & Neuter Nook in Davidsonville, Maryland. She says the staff performs more than 7,000 such surgeries each year.

“This is what we do, day in day out,” she says. “We’re really good at it.”

Like Rude’s team, many veterinarians around the country are saving animals’ lives at high speed with high-volume spay and neuter clinics. A six-year study of more than 100,000 spay and neuter surgeries performed at a high-volume clinic in Florida found that the mortality rate for cats and dogs was 0.03 percentcomparable to human surgeries. The study addressed concerns that high-volume spay and neuter facilities were linked to a lower quality of care.

Study co-author Karla Bard, director of Medical Operations at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, presented the findings at the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners at an annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. She also said high-volume clinics save lives by reducing the number of animals admitted to and euthanized in animal shelters.

“The results of our study confirm the absolute safety of these clinics and offer further evidence to support aggressive spay/neuter initiatives,” Bard said.

It’s not surprising that the extreme focus by veterinarians on high-volume spay and neuter surgeries leads to the proficiency of these specialized skills, says Robert Knox, director of business development at the Texas Coalition for Animal Protection (TCAP), which runs six low-cost spay and neuter clinics in Texas.

“Full-service veterinary practices may service fewer animals per day, but they must also provide a very wide variety of services,” he says. “When your focus is on one service, it is easier to increase your volume without sacrificing safety.”

Low-cost, high-quality, high-volume spay and neuter clinics are an important part of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs for their ability to meet the high demand for these services. The clinics also provide access to affordable surgeries for residents in low-income areas.

Kathy Rude says she and other leaders at her animal rescue organization decided to open the Spay Spa & Neuter Nook in 2012 after people in the community asked for help with community cats and TNR. Rude is president of Rude Ranch Animal Rescue, which operates the Spay Spa & Neuter Nook.

“We were getting enough calls for help with spay and neuter, especially with [community] cats, that the full-service vets we were working with couldn’t keep up,” says Rude. Community cats make up 70 percent of all cat surgeries performed at the Spay Spa & Neuter Nook.

In February, the Spay Spa & Neuter Nook expanded its clinic, thanks in part to a $50,000 grant from Alley Cat Allies. The expansion will allow the clinic to increase its spay and neuter capacity from 7,000 surgeries each year to an amazing 20,000 surgeries!

The veterinarians “have had specialized training and learned the techniques so that there’s a minimum of complications,” she says. “For some of these people it’s a passion. They’re here because they want to be here.”