Updated: Mar 19, 2019
If Bo, a Portuguese water dog, is America’s “First Dog,” then certainly Gabbygirl, a pitbull, must be Fox Valley’s “First Dog.”
But Gabbygirl, whose picture now hangs prominently in the lobby of Fox Valley Animal Welfare League’s (FVAWL) new state-of-the-art low-cost spay/neuter clinic, wasn’t necessarily destined for greatness.
Gabbygirl’s owner, Scott Miller, says he got her from a buddy “who didn’t know what he was going to do with her because no one wanted her.” Gabbygirl was the last of the litter—and female, Miller said.
Miller, a construction worker instrumental in building the new North Aurora clinic, was more than willing to give the young pitbull pup a chance, however.
“Everybody says you have to watch out for pitbulls,” Miller said. “You really don’t. It all has to do with the owners. My dog doesn’t have a mean bone in her body; she doesn’t know what ‘mean’ is.”
Miller, who previously had been laid off from his construction job, said he planned to get Gabbygirl, and his other dog Minniejewel, spayed, but the weak economy intervened.
Ellen Wullbrandt, FVAWL president, estimates at a veterinary clinic, a dog neuter, without blood work, could cost almost $300; a cat spay with blood work could cost more than $400.
“I was going to bring her to be the first dog [to be spayed/neutered], but prior to me doing so, Rich [Glessner, clinic director] called me and said he’d like to do [the surgery] at no charge.
“He saved me a lot of money,” said Miller, who plans to give Glessner a donation for the clinic. “For [FVAWL] to do what they did for me right off the bat just tells you they’re here for the people, bottom line.”
Glessner says Miller did a lot of the work at the clinic, and therefore, “[giving Gabbygirl the clinic’s first spay surgery] had a special meaning.”
And Miller admits that, in a sense, his name is all over the clinic. “I put up the walls, did the drywall, the painting, installed and painted the doors—just about everything,” he said.
The Grand Opening
Thanks to the handiwork of Miller and others, the clinic will officially open its doors with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Feb. 28, “World Spay Day,”
Glessner says no great change will occur after the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “We could have done a ribbon cutting already because we’re operational,” he said, “but I wanted to do what is called a ‘soft opening’ [first] to make sure everything is working.”
The clinic, the first of its kind in the Fox Valley area, has performed low-cost spay/neuter surgeries and offered two wellness cinics since its “soft opening” in mid-January.
“We’re just tweaking little things right now,” Glessner said. “It’s coming together very nicely.”
Additional wellness clinics will be held March 3 and March 24. “We’re trying to [offer] them every three weeks,” Glessner said. “As they grow [in popularity], we’ll bump them up to every two weeks.”
The clinic director says the surgeries have been approximately half from rescue groups and half from animal owners. “Every single day the phone is ringing more and more,” he said. “Almost every time the phone rings, it’s someone calling to inquire about the services and schedule appointments.”
In addition to wellness clinics and surgeries, FVAWL will offer low-cost care for exotic animals, such as reptiles, birds, rabbits, gerbils and hamsters.
“We’re pleased to announce that Dr. Susan Brown, a nationally respected authority in exotic animals, has joined our team,” said Glessner, adding that Dr. Brown will perform exotic surgeries at least two days a month and exotic wellness one day a month. She will also teach exotic animal owners how to care for their animals and how to recognize if their animals are ill.
Once the clinic is smoothly up and running, March’s main project, Glessner says, is to work out the logistics of the pet food pantry.
“[FVAWL] is still coming up with the procedures,” he said. “We’re trying to tie it in with the clinic so your animal has to be spayed or neutered. In other words, ‘We’ll help you [feed your animal], but you have to get your animal spayed/neutered.’”
In the meantime, Glessner said the clinic is officially open, accepting appointments and scheduling surgeries weekly.
“They are the nicest people in the world,” said Miller about Glessner and the clinic’s staff. “I couldn’t have asked for better. They helped me so much.
Fox Valley Animal Welfare League Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic Vital Statistics:
Ribbon Cutting: Tuesday, Feb. 28
Location: 11 John Street, North Aurora, 60542
Director: Richard Glessner, firstname.lastname@example.org
President: Ellen Wullbrandt, email@example.com