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Field Trip: Taking the Roads Less Traveled

Nonprofit battles pet overpopulation in rural Eastern Pennsylvania

They begin arriving soon after 8 a.m. on a beautiful June day when the Tractor Supply Co. in Hazleton, Pa., opens up. But these early birds aren’t birds—they’re 23 cats and three dogs.

Their owners have brought them to the parking lot for a low-cost sterilization. A volunteer registers the patients, fills out paperwork, and waits for the spaymobile to arrive.

At 8:30 a.m., the big blue truck pulls into the parking lot. Barb Loch, clinic director of the Eastern Pennsylvania Animal Alliance (EPAA), hobbles out of the driver’s seat. Just two months after having one of her knees replaced, Loch prepares for an eight-hour day on her feet.

“If you need both knees replaced, they tell you to do it all at once. Because if you do one knee first, you’ll never do the other,” she says.

Veterinarian Kim Mah speaks to all the owners when they fill out their paperwork to make sure they understand the risks of surgery. Mah left traditional veterinary practice after 10 years to focus on providing spay/neuter services for EPAA. “I like the routine of doing surgery,” she says. “Every animal is a little bit different. The veterinarian has to do anesthesia, too, and there’s no such thing as routine anesthesia.”

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