BROOKSVILLE — Celebrating 20 years of service in September, PetLuv, an affordable spay and neuter clinic for cats and dogs, has performed 150,000 surgeries over its two decades.
"I can't even conceive of that number," admits executive director Richard Silvani.
One sexually active dog or cat, with its own unfixed offspring giving birth in due time, can produce 6,000 of its species in a year, said practice manager Jennifer Hill. Thus, PetLuv essentially has saved between 8 million and 12 million potentially unwanted pets from euthanasia.
Preventing unwanted animals from being born "only to suffer and die," Silvani said, has been the clinic's aim since its inception. Having figured that cost is the primary deterrent to spaying and neutering, he set about making the procedures affordable.
PetLuv's rates: for cats, $25 to spay a female and $20 to neuter a male; for dogs, $35 to spay and $30 to neuter, with a rising scale based on weight.
Silvani said a full-service veterinary practice charges "at least double. Two hundred dollars wouldn't be out of the question (for cats). You can spend easily $400 to $500 to get a dog done."
"One of the things I'm most proud of," he added, "we have not raised our surgery prices over 20 years. Our goal is to keep our prices low enough to just cover expenses."
That doesn't always work out.
"We're losing money on every surgery in terms of supplies and materials," he said.
To offset some of the loss, there's a differential price scale for vaccination and testing services, under which owners of unaltered pets pay more.
From their own pockets, Silvani, 67, who retired young, and his wife, Veronika, make up the difference between financial loss and break-even.
The staff of 28, including three full-time veterinarians and five relief vets, attests to the clinic's busy schedule. They share a common trait: a love of pets, hence the clinic's name.
As if on cue, receptionist Amanda Crawford passed by Hill's office with a 3-week-old kitten she's bottle-feeding as a foster for Hernando County Animal Services.
The county previously euthanized all underage kittens, due to a lack of space and limited personnel. For the past year, PetLuv has taken 215 such kittens, caring for them through weaning, vaccinating, spaying and neutering, then returning them to Animal Services or the Humane Society of the Nature Coast for adoption.
Also fostered by friends of PetLuv, the Silvanis pay for any associated costs.
"PetLuv can't afford it," Richard Silvani said. "I can't let this organization go under financially. I'm (personally) in a position to take care of this."
The clinic is seeking foster caregivers, the only requirement being "an animal lover."
The business does not receive government funding. Donation jars sit on the reception counter.
"I'm not very good at asking people for money," Richard Silvani said. "We've been fortunate that two people have bequeathed to us. It would be nice if other people would think of nonprofit animal places when they die."
The Silvanis grew up without pets, adopting their first cat in 1982 and more wherever the Air Force assigned him. From his last assignment in Japan, the couple brought home to Brooksville their accumulated hoard of 24 cats, later adding two dogs.
"We'd rescued these guys," Richard Silvani said, "and when an animal comes into our home, we're responsible."
Contact Beth Gray at [email protected]