Woods breaks ground on spay/neuter clinic


ATASCADERO – Woods Humane Society held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday for its new high-quality/high-volume spay and neuter clinic at the North County Woods adoption center site at 2300 Ramona Road in Atascadero. Construction by Kimbell & Brown Construction has already begun. The building has been dedicated in memory of Daphne Fahsing, an Atascadero resident who cofounded Action for Animals’ Rights, which began the first local spay/neuter program and evolved into the North County Humane Society.

The groundbreaking was well-attended by the public and local leadership including Atascadero City Council Member Charles Bourbeau, Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin, and County Supervisors John Peschong and Debbie Arnold.

“We are thrilled to be on our way to opening SLO County’s first public high-volume, high-quality spay/neuter clinic,” said Jill Tucker, Executive Director of Woods Humane Society. “Ensuring that spay/neuter services are both accessible and affordable is a critical component to creating a humane community. This new clinic will positively impact thousands of animals and the residents who care for them for years to come.” 

Dr. Leslie Sklena, Woods’ Director of Veterinary Services, spoke at the groundbreaking about what high-quality/high-volume spay and neuter clinics actually are, what the new clinic will be providing, services which have spread over communities all throughout the state. 

“Our clinic team includes our veterinarians, registered veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants, who have collectively decades of experience in providing these types of services,” Sklena said, adding that many of her staff have advance training and experience working under mentors at spay/neuter clinics.

Sklena added, “While we perform surgeries on a high number of patients each day, we do treat each animal as an individual. Each patient receives comfortable housing, an appropriate preoperative screening by a veterinarian, comprehensive anesthesia and multimodal pain control, and attentive monitoring throughout the entire process.” 

The spay and neuter clinic will enable Woods Humane Society to meet the pressing needs of dogs and cats in the North County. Upon completion, the new clinic will include a fully-functional spay and neuter surgery suite that can accommodate up to 20 or more surgeries per day. Additionally, the new clinic will alleviate surgery space at Woods’ San Luis Obispo surgery center. This will increase Wood Humane Society’s ability to offer more public spay and neuter appointments for dogs and cats in southern SLO County. 

“The need here is urgent,” said Tucker. “Last year at Woods I thought our staff might actually drown in kittens.” She said they saw more than 600 kittens come through their program, most of which went through their foster care program. “In addition to that we had hundreds go through our spay/neuter clinic from Animal Services and we also partner with a number of rescue organizations.” Last summer, she said, her staff was exceeding a tasking 30 surgeries per day. Tucker said she was excited to finally meet her promise of meeting the capacity after much pressure from a community that really cares about animals. Year round, Woods performs about 4,000 surgeries in their SLO clinic. She said people sometimes have to wait for months for an appointment because they can’t afford to do the surgery at a veterinary practice. 

Currently, Woods in the North County serves only cats, but at the groundbreaking ceremony Tucker announced the big picture goal for the North County is to expand sheltering and adoption services for cats and dogs, as well as to offer humane education services for children. 

You may reach Reporter Beth Giuffre at [email protected] for questions and/or feedback. 

Photos by Beth Giuffre of the Atascadero News

Woods key players broke ground on Ramona Road Wednesday, including Steve Kragenbrink, Director of Marketing & Community Programs (far left), Jill Tucker, Executive Director of Woods Humane Society (second from left) Dr. Leslie Sklena (second from right), Woods’ Director of Veterinary Services and Dr. Eric Anderson, Director of SLO County Animal Services (third from left).

Jill Tucker, Executive Director of Woods Humane Society at the podium, speaking at the groundbreaking.

Dr. Leslie Sklena, Woods’ Director of Veterinary Services, speaking at the groundbreaking.

Dr. Eric Anderson, Director of SLO County Animal Services, speaking at the groundbreaking.

Steve Kragenbrink, Director of Marketing & Community Programs, speaking at the groundbreaking.

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