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Right now, puppies Polar Bear and Brown Cow can barely move a few feet without having to take a nap.

But, someday soon the pair will be frisky enough to sire tiny pups of their own. And when they are, SafeHaven Humane Society wants to make sure they don't.

Currently, dogs and cats at SafeHaven that need to be spayed or neutered are taken to mid-valley veterinary offices for the surgery. Animals are transported to vets in Albany, Salem and as far away as Woodburn.

SafeHaven has begun a fundraising campaign to build, equip and staff its own in-house spay and neuter surgery clinic and is seeking public help to do it.

The nonprofit, no-kill shelter estimates it will need between $375,000 and $445,000 to create the surgical center inside one of its current buildings, a giant, kennel-filled structure with a rolltop door known as the warehouse.

The plan is to start work this calendar year if enough money can be raised. SafeHaven is seeking funds through local donations, grant applications and Crowdrise, an online site that works specifically with nonprofits.

While it will take thousands to construct the center, SafeHaven officials say the ultimate goal is to save money.

The shelter spent more than $180,000 in 2017 to spay and neuter 2,720 animals, not counting staff costs, travel time and stress on both vehicles and the animals themselves. 

An on-site clinic, staffed by its own vet and vet tech, should save SafeHaven between $50,000 and $60,000 a year, said Sara Girres, marketing and communications coordinator.

The shelter spent $322,107.59 last year on all medical/veterinarian care, Girres said. If the spay and neuter clinic can be established, the hope is to expand that to a full onsite medical clinic at some point.

"This is kind of part one of the whole medical center," she said.

SafeHaven already does medical care in-house whenever possible, said Jerry Morris, president of the shelter's board of directors and himself a foster care provider (Polar Bear and Brown Cow are living at his house until they are old enough for adoption some five weeks down the road). 

A vet who sees an animal for, say, ringworm might then send it back to SafeHaven for regular applications of medicine, and the animal would then stay in quarantine there until it is cured.

But even to get a diagnosis involves someone staying at SafeHaven to prep the critter for travel the day before, getting up early to get it crated up, making the trip to the available vet, waiting with the animal or coming back later for the pickup, then carving out extra time to make sure it's on track for recovery.

Having an on-site clinic with regular staffing would reduce both time and pressure, especially on animals already stressed and bewildered by their situation, Morris said. Plus, whatever savings the shelter would realize can then be applied to saving other animals.

SafeHaven works regularly to find new homes for animals from New Mexico, California, Arizona, Oklahoma, Hawaii and Mexico, most of which are sending animals from shelters that euthanize to make room, Girres said. Of the animals who arrived to SafeHaven via transport last year, 72 percent were not spayed or neutered, and all of them needed some form of medical care, if only to make sure they were healthy.

Polar Bear and Brown Cow came to SafeHaven last week as part of an 80-animal "Fetch Fido a Flight" transport from Oklahoma. Of that group, 50 were puppies and another eight or so kittens, all too young for neutering — and all on the "hit list," Morris said.

"We can now bring in these dogs, we can get them fixed, and we can stop the process — at least with that dog," he said.

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