POPP buys building, aims to end pet overpopulation

Source: https://www.tricitiesbusinessnews.com/2020/09/popp-new-building/
Wendy Culverwell
Published: September 2020

A Tri-City nonprofit aims to turbocharge its efforts to end pet overpopulation after buying a former dental office in Pasco to serve as a spay and neuter clinic.

Pet Overpopulation Prevention Tri-Cities, or POPP, paid $325,000 for the medical building at 1506 N. Road 40 in a deal that closed Aug. 17. It is converting the space to a clinic focused on spaying and neutering cats and dogs.

It recently completed a donation drive to pay for the cost of a chute-shaped surgical table. Supporters can help out by going online to sponsor specific items such as scissors, forceps, clamps, IV stands and other surgical items through a bridal registry-style link at popptricities.org.

With the new clinic, POPP flips its old model of subsidizing the cost of spaying and neutering pets for those who couldn’t afford the $200 and more that local veterinarians charge.

Instead of providing vouchers to pay for private services, POPP and its staff veterinarian will do the work themselves, said Christina Coughlin, office manager and veterinary assistant.

Dr. Ashley Rice, who has a background in high volume spay and neuter programs, has joined POPP as its new veterinarian.

With the new approach, POPP aims to beat the 700 spay and neuter procedures it underwrote last year, Coughlin said.

“Our focus is always going to be spay and neuter,” she said.

Erin Vasquez, development and community outreach coordinator, said the clinic has been a dream since the nonprofit launched in 1995 to combat pet overpopulation.

The former dental clinic must be refitted as a veterinary clinic before it can operate. Wave Design Group in Kennewick donated design services for the project, and POPP is looking for a contractor to put in walls and other upgrades.

When it opens, the POPP clinic will serve local animal shelters and rescue operations. That’s partly because the Covid-19 pandemic restricts how many people can visit at a time. With rescues, a single person can bring in a group of animals at the same time.

In time, it will be open to the public. POPP has not set prices, but they will be “reasonable,” it said.

POPP runs on a modest budget. It raised $182,000 in 2017, about half from contributions and the balance from services and government grants, according to its most recent report to the IRS. Expenses totaled a little more than $200,000. It ended the year with a little more than $600,000 in assets.

POPP spent two decades raising money to buy a building. A state grant helped push it over the top.

POPP also organizes yard sales, lemonade stands, a car raffle, its annual FurBall and Santa Paws and other events which, coupled with the grant, made its dream a reality. The 2020 FurBall has been scrapped because of the pandemic.

It is also a member of the WoofTrax community, a charitable app for dog-owners and walkers that directs donations to animal-related causes when they exercise. It is available on the Apple and Android platforms.

POPP was set up in the mid-1990s to tackle the growing problem of cat and dog overpopulation by organizing affordable spay and neuter services to help pet owners who couldn’t afford it otherwise. It also organizes adoption events and promotes pets available for adoption on its Facebook page.

“There are only so many homes for these pets,” Coughlin said. “Spay and neuter is an easy way to stop euthanasia.”

POPP is separate from the Tri-Cities Animal Shelter and Control Services facility at 1312 S. 18th in Pasco, which serves as the home for animal control services for Kennewick, Pasco and Richland, as well as a nonprofit shelter. It is slated for replacement but has been delayed several times.