Sometimes those of us in rescue make it more complicated than it needs to be.

And then, sometimes, the answer is right in front of us.

Take the case of Kathryn Finlayson, the veterinarian who owns East River Animal Hospital in New Glasgow.

When she opened her first practice in Pictou in 2009, she was struck by the number of people who asked her to euthanize cats. The requests came from rescue organizations as well as private individuals.

“I had a small, rural practice and people were asking us to put their cats down over and over and over again,” she remembered.

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Finlayson, who has since opened a larger clinic in New Glasgow, said cats were being destroyed to tackle overpopulation and due to a lack of money.

“I became frustrated when people were coming in with all these cats and it was just so unnecessary,” she said.

So where some veterinarians might shake their heads and move on, three years ago she decided to do something about it.

“I thought, we can start off doing one or two spay days a week. So we did. On the first day, no word of a lie, we had 17 cats show up.

“Word of mouth spread. We didn’t advertise, we didn’t post it, we didn’t go to the papers or anything. We went from doing just Tuesdays and Thursdays to almost every single day of the week.”

She said the first spay day was a bit chaotic, but she and her staff of six now have a system that sees them doing up to seven spays or neuters a day, four or five days a week.


You heard me: Up to 35 spays A WEEK. All year long.

Finlayson said she’s fixed more than 2,000 cats in just over three years.

You heard me: 2,000 cats IN THREE YEARS.

And here’s the best part. She took away the financial barrier by charging $99 to spay a female cat and $58 to snip the boy bits.

They also offer the service for dogs, at a higher but still reasonable rate, a few times a week.

The veterinarian charges everyone the same price and doesn’t require blood work, vaccinations or testing. Her only requirement is that animals are treated for fleas.

She will do surgeries on owned, stray or feral cats, and the clinic doesn’t require appointments for feral cats.

“If a person catches a cat, we say bring it in and we’ll fit it in where we can because they may never catch it again.”

Not surprisingly, people have been coming from far and wide the last few years to have their animals fixed.

“We have people who drive here from New Brunswick to have their cats spayed.”

She still makes money at it, even offering the procedure at a reduced rate and working on her own.

“We are succeeding and we’ve expanded,” she said. “We have it down to a T.”

The only outstanding question now is how do we clone Finlayson?

Pat Lee is an editor at thechronicleherald.ca and a volunteer with various animal rescue organizations, including the Nova Scotia SPCA. She freelances this column.

(plee@herald.ca)