Tina Parra's surprise when her teenage son brought home a boxer turned into shock when the Windsor waitress contacted veterinary clinics to see about getting the puppy spayed.
"It was going to be $250. I couldn't afford it at the time," said Parra, a single mom.
For a mere $30, Sonoma County's new mobile spay and neuter clinic performed the same service Wednesday inside a van parked at the Western Farm Center in Santa Rosa.
"It's a huge help," Parra said.
The debut of the mobile clinic, dubbed the Love-Me-Van, marked the county's latest attempt to utilize the specially equipped vehicle, which was purchased 12 years ago with dreams of bringing low-cost spay and neuter services to the masses.
That vision mostly went unrealized, but that has not deterred Animal Care and Control Director Amy Cooper from trying again to cut down on unwanted cat and dog births in Sonoma County by going to where the need for sterilization is greatest.
Among the 13 animals waiting their turn Wednesday to go under the knife was Mary Jane, a Maltese mix brought in by Dovie Camacho, who is homeless and found the dog.
The dog, who is about 3 years old, already has given birth to two litters of puppies. But Camacho could not afford the cost of having her spayed at a private clinic, said her daughter, who lives in Windsor and gave her first name as Desirea.
She predicted the county's service "is really going to help a lot of people."
The outreach service, which is being marketed as "Love Me, Fix Me," replaces a voucher program at the county shelter that Cooper said was "cumbersome" and "confusing."