Valley pet owners brought their cats and dogs to the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control mobile clinic Saturday to be spayed or neutered.
The clinic opened at 7 a.m. in Phoenix, but medical outreach coordinator Mark Soto of Tempe said many people started lining up as early as 12:30 a.m. to take advantage of the free service for their pets or other animals they have decided to help.
The mobile clinic is part of a program called Uno Por Uno that started in July 2006. Soto said the clinics provide pet licenses, rabies vaccines, and spay or neuter services at no cost and microchip implants for $25.
The program focuses on servicing one ZIP code each year. This year, the focus is 85008, which includes the area around Loop 202 in east Phoenix.
But Soto said the program is open to all Maricopa County residents. He said staff members spayed or neutered about 65 cats and dogs on Saturday, and many came from the East Valley.
"It is on a first-come, first-serve basis," Soto said.
For those who missed the event, another clinic will take place Saturday at the same location.
Despite the popularity of the program, Soto said nobody is turned away. If the staff cannot see an animal brought in on the day of a clinic, he said pet owners are given an application for a voucher to receive a free spay or neuter at a later time.
Soto said more than 1,800 animals were able to receive free spay or neuter surgeries in January, out of about 2,500 applications submitted.
"People are really taking advantage of it," Soto said. "We receive 200 requests for vouchers every day."
Eileen Wells of Tempe brought five feral cats Saturday that have taken refuge in a shed on her property. She said she received information on her water bill about a number she could call to receive free spay and neuter services.
Mimi Winters, a Phoenix cat owner, said she was so impressed with the clinic on Saturday that she will start making donations.
"This is such a wonderful service," Winters said.
Soto said donations to the facility are put into one fund, which is then divided to support all of the center's programs.
"Other counties are looking at this program as a model," Soto said.
For information, call (602) 506-7387.