Bending over cat after dog after cat, Dr. John Sheard worked steadily through dozens of animals Saturday.
The medical director of Cherry Bend Animal Hospital was donating his Saturday to help area animal lovers and pet owners care for their charges.
He and the other two veterinarians from Cherry Bend Animal Hospital in Traverse City were hosting the second annual Spay and Neuter-a-Thon.
With just three or four minutes between patients, the vets, staff members and volunteers spent 12 hours straight treating 55 cats and dogs for free.
Other services provided included rabies vaccinations and flea and tick prevention. The hospital's two operating theaters and a makeshift third were constantly busy as staff and volunteers kept everything running smoothly.
"It's kind of like a MASH unit," said Sheard of the tightly choreographed progression from intake, evaluation, sedation, operation, recovery and follow up.
"We've had 100 percent participation of our staff, that says a lot to me about them, it means a lot to me," he added of both the 2011 and 2012 Spay and Neuter-a-Thons. "It's really about giving back to the community."
Each pet goes home with pain medication. Owners will receive a follow-up call today and any complications will be treated for free.
Area nonprofit agencies provided the referrals, including the Women's Resource Center, Goodwill, Cherryland Humane Society, Community Mental Health and Department of Human Services.
The Spay and Neuter-a-Thon's services allow people to have a pet who might otherwise not be able to afford necessary vet treatment.
After a neighborhood stray adopted her, Gayle Bartlette brought a cat to the 2011 event.
"I was trying to find a good home for her but she hadn't been spayed," said Bartlette, who subsequently found "Lucy" a home and this year decided to volunteer at the Spay and Neuter-a-Thon.
Launched by Dr. John Sheard, last year's effort treated 45 animals in eight hours. Statistics for both years have been consistent: about two-thirds of the patients are cats and a third are dogs. In both cases, about half are spayed and half neutered.
The focused effort of the event helps prevent pet overpopulation. Sheard cites statistics that 8 million pets enter animal shelters annually, with half that number euthanized.
Each spayed or neutered animal no longer contributes to the problem.
"I just felt (those statistics) were atrocious," said Sheard, who participated in similar efforts at his previous home in Wisconsin. "We have all these people out there trying to do the right thing but they don't have the financial wherewithal to do the surgery. We want to help them out."
"If it means we can get a pet into a good home, let's do it," he added.
The three vets were supported by licensed veterinary technicians, veterinary assistants, other staff volunteers plus nearly a dozen community members like Bartlette.
"I love to be a part of this, it's a fun opportunity to help," said Dr. Leslie Littlefield, one of three vets at the hospital.
Sarah Higgins volunteered her day because she loves animals and is considering a career path in the field.
"I'm thinking about being a vet technician," she said after a stint cradling and comforting "Venus," a cat waking from a spay procedure.