If the whole house is on fire, you might not think a single bucket of water would do much. But if you could save one homeless, hungry puppy, by making sure it was never born, how would that make you feel?
The spaying and neutering of dogs and cats is a cause for Dr. Pam Carpenter and her allies at the Brother Wolf Animal Rescue. Carpenter travels to the Brother Wolf (Soon to be "Heart Of The Foothills") in Gilkey, just north of Rutherfordton twice a month.
Low cost spaying and neutering has touched the lives of 193 animals and their owners in recent months through the mobile clinic which travels in a donated bus that is brightly painted and outfitted for surgery.
Karen Parker, who runs the local rescue praises the service and the volunteers who help year-round and especially during special events.
Dr. Carpenter had a private practice for many years, but decided she could do more good by preventing the births of unwanted dogs and cats. She said, "I have been a veterinarian for 39 years, and specifically a spay/neuter surgeon for the last 13 years. Being committed to the pet overpopulation problem and its impact on our overcrowded shelters, I was thrilled to join the Brother Wolf team as they embark on their mobile spay/neuter program. Preventing unwanted dog and cat births is the best use of my skills to make a significant impact in animal welfare."
Holly Amann, who manages the mobile unit, has worked for Brother Wolf for three years and loves her job. "I see it as helping people as well as helping animals." She sees the heartbreak of unwanted animals as a pain she hopes to relieve as much as she can.
Brother Wolf takes animals from the local shelter and transports them north, as well as does local adoptions. Karen Snyder, who has volunteered for three years with Brother Wolf, says there are very few puppies in the north because spaying and neutering is more common there.
"There is a demand for puppies in the north," Snyder said. Agreements are signed among adoption agencies and other animal rescues in places like Buffalo, New York, from which she moved. She came here because of affordable land prices and proximity to three airports: Asheville, Charlotte and Greenville. And animal rescue was a big draw.
There is a network of drivers and contacts that help with adoptions and relocations all over the country.
In addition to Armann, the mobile clinic uses two vet techs, Brianna Marshall and Josh Ledford.
Marshall said of her work, "I've always loved animals, but didn't have the chance to work with them until the past two years. At this point, I don't think I could ever leave animal welfare. When I'm not working, I'm at home taking care of my personal jungle. I've got too many plants, two bearded dragons, a leopard gecko, and a dog. They take up all of my time. I wouldn't have it any other way."
Ledford said, "Joining the clinic has been one of best learning experiences I've ever had. My animal welfare career started in a pet store and I have been slowly working up the ladder."
The crew of four is enthusiastic and ready to help.
If you need a dog or cat neutered or spayed, the cost is $50 for male cats, $60 for male dogs, $55 for female cats and $65 for female dogs. Call Holly Armann at 828-490-1578 to make an appointment or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. The group also offers vaccines, heartworm tests, microchipping and deworming.
Amann said of her involvement with the project: "I joined Brother Wolf two years ago as the foster program manager. That position required me to find temporary homes for animals who were not ready for adoption, often due to an outstanding medical need, or because they were puppies or kittens who were too young yet to be adopted. This past September, our director of animal care approached me because a new spay/neuter clinic was being rented to us through a generous donation from Fido Fixers. It was at that point that I took over building a mobile spay/neuter program to serve communities in Western North Carolina. My passion is for helping pets and their humans, and especially for helping animals stay in their homes and outside of the shelter system."
In 2018, Rutherford County Animal Control took in 1924 animals including wildlife and only had to euthanize 344. That means many animals were adopted, transported or returned to owners. The 344 figure may feel high to some readers, but the figure includes animals who were too sick to recover or too seriously injured. Adoptions, rescues, transfers and having animals returned to owners are all good signs of an overall sensitivity to animal welfare in Rutherford County.