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People Power: Skilled with a Scalpel

A spay/neuter veterinarian takes his commitment to ending pet homelessness to new heights

When veterinarian Don Popa picks up his surgical instruments, watch out: Any intact pets in the immediate area can rule out the prospect of parenthood.

In his battle to eliminate unwanted litters and reduce pet overpopulation, Popa, who runs the spay/neuter clinic at the Ramona Humane Society in San Jacinto, Calif., has racked up some pretty staggering numbers. He’s been known to do 60-70 spay/neuters a day, though these days he’s averaging around 40. He hit his all-time high in winter 2008, when, working out of a mobile clinic, he did 106 spay/neuters—59 dogs, 46 cats, and one rabbit.

Popa, 55, keeps meticulous records of every spay/neuter surgery he does, writing them all down in notebooks he keeps at home. His monthly goal at the clinic is 700 procedures.

On Dec. 22, 2009, Popa reached a career milestone: his 100,000th spay/neuter surgery, a feat that took him 12 years to achieve. The shelter staff had a little party for him, cake was served, and a reporter from the Riverside Press-Enterprise came and interviewed him. Even his mother, visiting from his native Romania, was there to share the moment.

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