San Antonio’s Animal Care Services and half a dozen veterinarians are preparing a makeshift operating room at Millers Pond Community Center Saturday afternoon.
The second annual Big Fix already has 300 pets signed up as of noon Friday for the free program.
City Councilman Rey Saldaña said said he saw a need for thinking outside the box when he was knocking on doors during his first campaign for city council.
"I would run into as many residents as I ran into stray and homeless pets walking around the streets in the neighborhoods," he said.
Once he realized the stray problem was a people problem, Saldaña said the city needed to work with residents in a way that made it easy for them. One big stumbling block was the cost, so tomorrow’s service is free, thanks to volunteers, SNIPSA and a grant the city is using to fund the effort.
"Either we're paying for the spay or neuter, or we're paying to pick up these animals, and we're paying the price in terms of the public safety concerns that this causes," Saldaña said.
Another stumbling block was getting people to drive their pets to a clinic, which Saldaña said has been eliminated by doing the Big Fix at the Millers Pond Community Center on Old Pearsall Road.
Saldaña believes reducing the number of stray animals in neighborhoods gives residents a greater sense of pride that translates to quality of life.
"Just like a broken window or graffiti is an indicator of neighborhood decline, I see stray animals in the same light," he said.
The District 4 Big Fix free spay and neuter also will send pet owners home with vaccinations, micro-chipping and a pet license, all free of charge.
Saldaña says the city's live-release rate is now at 83-percent, surpassing the rates of other major Texas cities.