Nationwide shortage impacts local pet populations as low-cost spay/neuter clinics scramble to staff veterinary teams

SAN LUIS OBISPO — February is National Spay/Neuter Awareness Month, yet San Luis Obispo County, like many counties nationwide, is struggling with a severe shortage of veterinarians to perform these important procedures that help manage local pet populations.

Woods Humane Society has searched near and far for nearly a year to hire a full-time veterinarian to help them meet the high demand for affordable spay/neuter surgeries in SLO County.

“Our nonprofit operates the county’s only two low-cost spay/neuter clinics and we perform an average of 5,000 of these surgeries per year for locally-owned pets as well as for shelter animals at Woods, SLO County Animal Services, and other rescues,” explains Woods Humane Society CEO Neil Trent. “In 2022, even without being able to staff full veterinary teams as we’d hoped, we still managed to perform 5,456 spay/neuter surgeries. However, in the last few months, we have not been able to keep up with demand and have had to temporarily postpone taking any new appointments from the public.”


Trent says that the nonprofit organization is desperately in search of qualified veterinarians to help them continue offering a high volume of sterilizations in order to manage pet populations and reduce the instances of unwanted litters of puppies and kittens in our county.

“A slowdown of any kind in spay/neuter efforts can have a significant ripple effect on our local pet population. With shelters full across California and with spring kitten season on the way, the veterinary shortage and the resulting restrictions on spay and neuter surgeries will only negatively impact an already dire situation. It is our top priority to recruit and hire veterinarians so that we can carry out the Woods mission and keep the SLO County shelter from experiencing the same overcrowding and unnecessary euthanasia that many other county shelters in this state are experiencing.”

To learn more about applying for the open staff veterinarian position at Woods Humane Society, visit

Woods is located at 875 Oklahoma Ave., San Luis Obispo, and at 2300 Ramona Road, Atascadero, and is open to the public daily from 12 to 5 p.m., with adoption hours from 12 to 4 p.m. For more information about Woods, visit or call (805) 543-9316.