Remembering a Pioneer in Spay/Neuter: Elaine Adaire

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As those of you who worked with Elaine — locally or from afar — already know, she was an extremely bright and focused person.  She had a razor-sharp mind, and the ability to stay on topic, do a prodigious amount of work, and never complain. Remarkable.

I first met Elaine in New Orleans about fifteen years ago at one of our conferences.  These were regional meetings (Southern Regional Leadership Conference in this case) set up by SPAY USA to provide inspiration and information to people in the area who were interested in what we call Public Health for Companion Animals (or spay/ neuter information and assistance.)   One of our key goals was to facilitate networking among people who understood the need for this work. We often seated people by their home state at lunches and dinners, offered special workshops, and then set aside time for them to meet and plan.

I still remember the ‘Mississippi room!’  Elaine was there with a whiteboard, figuring out how best to maximize spay/neuter services in her state.  There were 82 counties, high poverty rates, no action plan, little or no communications between regions of the state, no census of what was available, no single point for referrals and information and no one exclusively focused on spay/neuter.  By the end of the day, a plan had been worked out and within a year she had developed a survey, action plan, and planned a statewide meeting. Groups from northern, central, and southern Alabama convened in Jackson. 

At the conference, each participant received a directory, information on delivery systems, and a worksheet.  Goals and strategies were established for each region. Later, meetings were held in each region in order to determine needs and select appropriate delivery systems. Plans were made to start and run programs tailored to each region.  Prior to this,  the groups from the north, south, and central regions of the state had never met or planned as a group.

The delivery system they developed under Elaine’s leadership included a large mobile clinic (the Big Fix) which could do 60 spay/neuter surgeries per day,  a smaller mobile clinic (the Little Fix) which could do 30 spay/neuter surgeries a day, Shelter Outreach Services in conjunction with the two clinics, a high volume spay/neuter clinic in Gulfport, and a voucher system.  All 82 counties were covered. Within a year Mississippi Spay and Neuter had a toll-free statewide hotline with a counselor to help with the difficult cases and a board of directors was established representing the three regions of the state.

Elaine had a way of organizing details without losing sight of the goal and without losing the hospitality that made all of us feel right at home at her meetings.  Hers was a life WELL-LIVED and she left Mississippi a better place.  We will miss her greatly.

 

Esther Mechler

United Spay Alliance

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