Thursday, June 20, 2024

Big Fix is big success but animal welfare needs remain


OKANOGAN – Having a pet – or pets – rewarding as that is, can be expensive if all needs are addressed. Food, shelter, and medical care are among the most constant of those vitals, and the latter can be singularly problematic because it can occur unexpectedly and/or be an expensive budget item.

That point was brought home in a major way when Good Fix, a Greater Good Charities’ program, responded to a request from Team Okanogan Animal Rescue (TOAR) to bring its team to underserved Okanogan County. The result was The Big Fix, a free four-day free spay and neuter clinic that set up shop at the Agriplex at the Okanogan Fairgrounds from May 6-9. 

The demand for the desperately needed altering services in the state’s largest county but with the fewest animal welfare resources could not have been more evident, judged by the overwhelming public response.

“The clinic reached capacity each day by 6:15 a.m., and many people were turned away,” TOAR Consultant Jeanine Foucher told The Quad. “There were so many stories of owners going to incredible lengths so their pet could receive services. Sleeping in their vehicles overnight was standard by Day 2.”

Foucher recalled one elderly woman from Tonasket who could not get in on the first day of registration that was scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. well past the day’s capacity was reached.

“Rather than leave, she stayed the day, volunteered, slept in her vehicle overnight, and got her dog in the next day,” Foucher said. 

In Okanogan County, “there are no publicly funded animal shelters,” the TOAR Facebook site says. “Only a loose network of private rescues.”

A story that ran in last week’s Quad conservatively estimated the out-of-pocket costs The Big Fix saved pet owners was between $75,000 and $200,000. That figure is well short of the actual mark. 

“On average, private practice vet services cost anywhere from $300 - $750 dollars per animal including spay/neuter, vaccines, microchip, and deworming,” said Foucher. “In addition, TOAR distributed a significant amount of dog food, toys, and supplies. So, in my opinion, owners received $500 - $1000 worth of services for free during this event.”

In four days, the Big Fix spayed or neutered 1,027 cats and dogs.

“Many people came to us with multiple pets - sometimes 10 or 11 cats and dogs,” Foucher said. 

For those who were turned away and are hoping for another opportunity, Foucher said TOAR is in talks with the Greater Good Charities' Good Fix team to come back. 

“This is contingent upon funding both for TOAR and for Good Fix,” stressed Foucher. “If anyone wants to help make this a reality, please visit our website,, and donate. 

In the interim, pet owners seeking access to low-cost spay/neuter and vaccine services, can contact Okanogan Regional Humane at (509) 422-9960 or ORH currently has a vet onsite three days a week.

“I hope the message we can share with the public is Okanogan County is like many other places where resources are non-existent and dogs and cats pay the price,” said Foucher. “Providing access to free or low-cost spay/neuter must become part of every lifesaving conversation.

Mike Maltais: 360-333-8483 or


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