Mobile Unit Will Be Used to Help Reduce State Surplus of Homeless Dogs and Cats

UT College of Veterinary Medicine Mobile Spay NeUTer Clinic

The University of Tennessee has opened a mobile spay/neuter clinic for unowned dogs and cats with a $260,485 grant from PetSmart Charities, Inc. The Mobile Spay/NeUTer Clinic will operate in a 29-county area surrounding Knox County. Featured in the photo, from left, Dr. Amanda Dykstra, UTCVM clinical professor of shelter medicine; Teresa Jennings, CAIT program director; Jaimie Norris, CAIT, Karen Walsh, LVMT, field program manager, PetSmart Charities, Inc. Photo by P. Snow, courtesy UTIA. Download image.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. –  Officials with the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, PetSmart Charities, Inc. and other animal welfare organizations gathered at the UT Agricultural Campus on November 5 to officially open the UTCVM Mobile Spay/NeUTer Clinic.

The 36-foot unit includes three surgery tables, holding cages and an oxygenizer and was made possible with a $260,485 grant from PetSmart Charities, Inc. (PCI). Karen Walsh, LVMT, a field program manager with PCI, says the lifesaving unit will serve the college for many years.

“We look forward to a time when a lack of available locations where people can get their pets spayed and neutered is a thing of the past.  This mobile spay neuter clinic, and others like her, are bridging so many gaps by bringing spay neuter to areas where there are no veterinary hospitals and providing students with hundreds of surgical opportunities where they not only perfect their surgical skills, but save countless lives in the process,” said Walsh. She said everyone at PetSmart Charities is happy to be part of bringing the mobile unit to Big Orange Country. “We look forward to hearing about her lifesaving journey.”

Dr. Jim Thompson, dean of the UT College of Veterinary Medicine (UTCVM), says the mobile unit allows the college to provide its veterinary students with hands-on experience beyond that of the basic required curriculum. “Our students have shown great interest in this opportunity because they know it will help them develop their surgical skills and help save lives in our communities,” said Thompson. UTCVM veterinary students will receive experience in pediatric spay/neuter, and they will be exposed to animal welfare issues including an understanding of how unplanned and uncontrolled breeding produces millions of homeless animals who will end up in shelters and face euthanasia.

The focus area for the mobile unit includes the 29 counties surrounding Knox County. The estimated shelter intake for the area was more than 81,000 animals in 2012. The spay/neuter surgeries performed in the unit will only be offered for unowned animals. Teresa Fisher, program director for the veterinary college’s Companion Animal Initiative of Tennessee (CAIT), was the driving force in bringing the mobile unit to the college. CAIT’s mission is to reduce the state surplus of homeless dogs and cats. “I want UT to help reduce pet overpopulation in Tennessee, starting now and continuing into the future when our students graduate and become part of the solution in whatever community they choose to practice,” said Fisher.

The mobile Spay/NeUTer unit is dedicated to the memory of Dr. John New, a veterinary college faculty member who fought tirelessly to keep animals out of shelters and in homes. He died in October 2013. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held during Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week.

One of 28 accredited veterinary colleges in the United States, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine educates students in the art and science of veterinary medicine and related biomedical sciences, promotes scientific research and enhances human and animal well-being.


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The UT Institute of Agriculture provides instruction, research and public service through the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the College of Veterinary Medicine, the UT AgResearch system of 10 research and education centers and UT Extension offices in every county in the state. 


PetSmart Charities, Inc. is a nonprofit animal welfare organization that saves the lives of homeless pets. More than 400,000 dogs and cats find homes each year through our adoption program in all PetSmart® stores and our sponsored adoption events. PetSmart Charities grants more money to directly help pets in need than any other animal welfare group in North America, with a focus on funding spay/neuter services that help communities solve pet overpopulation. PetSmart Charities is a 501(c)(3) organization, separate from PetSmart, Inc.



Sandra Harbison, 865-974-7377,