TEAM today: Although the vehicle has changed, the mission remains the same. We are still driven to end feline overpopulation. Senior Vet Tech, Dina Sicuranza, has been onboard from the start.

For nearly 25 years, TEAM has been making spay/neuter and vaccination services for cats affordable so that we can prevent the birth of unwanted kittens and improve the health and well-being of all cats.

To date, we have sterilized and vaccinated more than 206,000 domestic and feral cats on our mobile clinic, and the demand for our service is still great. The office handles hundreds of requests every week from people who want to make an appointment. Some of these folks are on a fixed income or out of work, some have taken in a stray, others are repeat customers with a new kitten, but most simply want quality pet care that won’t break the bank. So, they call 1-888-FOR-TEAM.

People today probably don’t give much thought to the existence of a “low cost” spay/neuter clinic like ours; but before TEAM, needy pet owners and those caring for homeless cats had few options, if any. As a result, the number of unwanted cats and kittens in our state was high; and so were the side-effects of feline overpopulation such as abuse, abandonment, illness and injury, and crowded shelters.

TEAM knew the only answer to this sad problem was to spay or neuter as many cats as possible before they reproduced. So, in 1996, plans for the TEAM Mobile Feline Spay/Neuter Clinic took shape under the direction of John A. Caltabiano, DVM, an Old Lyme veterinarian who was then TEAM president, and executive director Donna Sicuranza.

Our first mobile clinic. Ten cats were spayed or neutered and vaccinated on-board on our first day out: March 1, 1997. One year later, to meet the demand for our services, we needed a bigger vehicle.

One year later, on March 1, 1997, the mobile clinic hit the road: the first and only of its kind in Connecticut. Although this generated plenty of excitement in the animal welfare community, there was criticism and skepticism, too– mostly from veterinarians who felt we would “take customers away” by reducing the cost of spay/neuter, or that we could not perform surgery safely on a mobile clinic.

Despite the naysayers, we successfully sterilized ten cats on our first day. Six months later, the idea had caught like wildfire, and TEAM had spayed or neutered 5,000 cats!  And by our first anniversary—8,000! We were soon recognized as a national prototype. In 1998, Animal People magazine said: “If the Guinness Book of Records had a line for the most animals fixed in a year by a mobile clinic, TEAM would be in it—twice.”

As far as we know, that record still stands. We have never stopped working on behalf of Connecticut cats. Most of us have been here from the start, and we remain dedicated to the job we began 24 years, four mobile clinics, and hundreds of thousands of surgeries ago.

TEAM has changed spay/neuter in Connecticut. Many veterinarians in our state now provide these basic services at a reduced cost or refer needy clients to us, and plenty of local pet supply stores offer them, too. We have also served as a model for other groups throughout the country. Several veterinarians who got their start aboard our mobile clinic established similar programs in California, Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island.

Despite these achievements, many people don’t realize that TEAM is a charity that depends on donations to survive. In fact, we got our start — and our name — thanks to a bequest from the estate of animal lover and businessman Vernon A. Tait. He believed in our ability to develop programs and services, like the mobile clinic, to help animals and the people who care for them. This has been the goal of Tait’s Every Animal Matters (TEAM) since we started and it hasn’t changed.