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Nearly 20 dogs were spayed or neutered at no cost to their owners Thursday during a clinic for Detroiters’ pets.

The program, Project GRACE, is one of more than a dozen planned for this year as local dog nonprofits work to reduce overpopulation in the city. The effort is a collaboration between Dog Aide Community Awareness Program and Bark Nation.

“We saw a need in the city,” said Rachel Beno, director of operations for Dog Aide. “People want their dogs spayed or neutered. They just don’t have the funds for it. It helps with overpopulation. The less unwanted litters, the less dogs there are in the shelter.”

In its first year in 2016, the program served 108 dogs. This year, the goal is to serve 350 dogs through events every other Thursday from April through October, Beno said. Dog owners must register in advance. The next spay or neuter day open for registration is July 13.

Veterinarians with All About Animal Rescue perform the altering services in a motor home surgical unit set up in the parking lot of Detroit Animal Care and Control in Detroit. The dogs also are vaccinated, microchipped and licensed.

Project GRACE is funded through donations eliminating costs of at least $140 for services for dog owners, Beno said.

Detroiter Jessica Lett, 27, said she was amazed she was able to have her 10-month-old pit bull Bella spayed for free during an event in April.

“I looked at four or five different veterinarians I was going to take her to,” Lett said, adding that she was quoted a $200 fee. “People can’t afford it.”

Lett said she was anxious when she arrived that April morning to have Bella spayed. Dog owners are asked to line up in their cars in the parking lot and fill out paperwork. Then, they bring their dogs into the surgical unit. They recover before being reunited with their owners later in the afternoon.

“I was nervous and crying,” Lett said. “She was shaking. They talked to me telling me it was going to be OK.”

Lett said she’s already referred the services to others, including her neighbor, who recently had her dog spayed.

“I was happy overall with my experience,” she said. “With it being a free program you don’t really expect too much, but they were really personable making sure you were OK with the situation. I was really happy with that.”

For information or to schedule an appointment, call Dog Aide at (313) 855-5866 or visit www.dogaide.com.

cwilliams@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2311

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