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The Mountain Press

Article by Juli Neil, the Mountain Press June 22-23,2019

April holding Jelly the shepherd mix. Photo by Jason Davis/The Mountain Press

April Stone holds Jelly, a young shepherd mix dog, at Kindness Counts’ newly opened clinic
on Thursday in Sevierville. Stone and her husband, Bill, started the nonprofit in 2004.

New spay/neuter clinic opens

BY JULI WATSON NEIL
Staff Writer

SEVIERVILLE — April Stone will no longer have to ferry pets on a 100-mile, round-trip excursion just to get them ready for adoption.

The founder of Kindness Counts, a nonprofit established in 2004, recently opened a low-cost spay/neuter clinic that’s available to the public and to animal rescue organizations. Stone was busy coordinating the 31 surgeries that were scheduled for Thursday, but welcomed the diff erent type of activities she’s been doing since opening the doors in May.

“I spent 16 years driving animals down there,” Stone said of People Promoting Animal Welfare in Greenback. That’s where she took most
feral cats and rescue pets for their spay/neuter procedures.

She and other volunteers drove some of them to surgery providers in Knox and other East Tennessee counties, which she said is stressful for many of the animals.

Dr Julie Bowling, DVM performing surgery. Photo by Jason Davis/The Mountain Press
Veterinarian Julie Bowling takes care of a patient at Kindness
Counts’ spay-neuter clinic on Thursday in Sevierville.

Stone credited PPAW with getting her interested in animal rescue work, which began for her with taking feral cats for their spay/neuter procedures. Her nonprofit’s new clinic off Chapman Highway is capable of performing the surgeries on cats, dogs and rabbits.

“We couldn’t help people with big dogs,”Stone said of the nonprofit’s first years transporting surgery cases in private vehicles.

Now, Kindness Counts is helping animals of all sizes that are brought in by rescue groups and by community members.

“We’ve used them for hundreds of our animals since they opened,” Sevier Animal Care Center Director Ashley Thomas said. “We are very relieved to see a low-cost spay/neuter in this area.”

Thomas explained that only larger shelters such as Knoxville’s Young Williams Animal Center can afford to have in-house veterinarians perform the procedures in a space dedicated to surgeries.

Thomas praised Sevier County’s new clinic. “Citizens should not be nervous,” she said. “That’s basically all they do. They’re good at it. …I would trust these people with my own pets if they weren’t already spayed and neutered.”

Stone said that Kindness Counts currently has two veterinarians and three assistants on staff. They’re hoping to increase their business operations from three to four days per week.

“I’ve been working for 12 years to open a clinic,” Stone said. “There were donations from other people, a PetSmart grant for equipment and kennels.” In addition to offering its services to individual pet owners on a sliding-fee scale, Kindness Counts is able to give bulk discounts to rescue groups and shelters.

“Sevier County has needed a spay/neuter clinic for a very long time, and we appreciate April’s hard work bringing this to fruition,”  Cheri Hagmeier, a board member of the Sevier County Humane Society, said. “This will cut the drive time for shelter pets to less than half. … (The) Kindness Counts clinic will also make it possible for SPOT (Stop Pet Overpopulation Today) clients to drop their pets off directly at the clinic rather than being transported to Alcoa, Knoxville or Greenback for procedures.”

So far this year, the nonprofit’s SPOT program has spayed or neutered more than 700 pets. Hagmeier said the SCHS shelter will likely pass 2018’s record of 1,359 surgeries.

“Spay/neuter is not just about controlling the population,” Stone said. “There are health benefits for pets. As they get older, animals that haven’t been spayed or neutered are more likely to have mammary tumors, testicular cancer and other issues.”

Stone encouraged even those who live outside Sevier County to utilize the services of Kindness Counts.

“We don’t have an income limit,” Stone said. “We work on a sliding scale. If somebody brings us a pet, we’ll fix it. Dogs having puppies don’t have borders.”

Kindness Counts is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 240 Pleasant Hill Road in Sevierville. An appointment must be made for spay/neuter. Prices vary according to ability to pay and the animal’s species and gender.

Information is available at https://kindnesscountstn.org or by calling 865-500-5508.

Spay Neuter Surgery Kindness Counts Clinic. Photo by Jason Davis/The Mountain Press

Kelly Hendrickson (right) and her daughter Taylor Hoffman work to move
a patient to a gurney for movement to the recovery area of the Kindness
Counts clinic on Thursday in Sevierville.

Contact Juli at jneil@themountainpress.com or on Twitter at @Neil-WatsonJ.

 

 

The Mountain Press

 

Editorial by Jason, the Mountain Press June 25,2019

 

Kindness Counts putting its name to action

 

Nonprofit owner saw a problem, sought solutions

 

When April Stone moved to the area with her husband, Bill, more than 30 years ago, she knew she had to do something to help the stray, homeless and unvaccinated animals of the Smokies.

This spring, the culmination of decades of ideas and planning came to fruition with the opening of the Kindness Counts low cost spay/neuter clinic, which also provides vaccination services.

“When I was a young adult I discovered the harsh reality of how expensive it can be to properly care for our pets, even when it was just the basics of spay/neuter and vaccinations,” Stone said her nonprofit’s website, kindnesscountstn.org. “Due to our own need for affordable pet care I started searching for low cost options. I ended up finding affordable pet care through low cost spay/neuter clinics in other counties.

“Although this was helpful to me and anyone willing to drive the distance, I knew the majority of pet owners were unaware of this option,” Stone said.

Also noting the overwhelming free-roaming cat population, she set her sights on a way to help.

Kindness Counts was established as a nonprofit 15 years ago, with Stone transporting many animals on a 100-mile, round-trip excursion to Greenback for medical treatments just to get them ready for adoption.

“All of these experiences have led my desire to open a low cost spay/neuter clinic in Sevier County,” Stone said. “My goal is to reduce the homeless pet population and control the breeding of free-roaming (pets) so that no dog or cat is left homeless due to overpopulation or because basic health care is nonaffordable.”

The clinic, located off of Pleasant Hill Road, conducts low-cost spay and neuter services for both individuals and animal shelters. It is operated, primarily through donations from the community and a recent grant from Pet Smart.

Anyone can use Kindness Counts’ services.

“We don’t have an income limit. We work on a sliding scale,” Stone told our reporter, Juli Neil, last week. “If somebody brings us a pet, we’ll fix it. Dogs having puppies don’t have borders.”

Joining Stone in the effort are the clinic’s staff — veterinarians Julie Bowling and Carson Hutchison, veterinary technician Kortnee Wise and veterinary assistants Kelly Hoffman and Taylor Hendrickson.

Kindness Counts is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 240 Pleasant Hill Road in Sevierville. An appointment must be made for spay/neuter. Prices vary according to ability to pay and the animal’s species and gender.

When we witness the inner workings of the clinic last week, we were struck by the new facility’s order, its cleanliness and the care the staff provided animals that many may consider little more than nuisance stray animals.

Our hats go off to Kindness Count’s board, staff and Stone for all the work they’ve put into making it so that no pet should have to go without having its basic needs met. Good work, and congratulations on opening your new clinic.

Contact Juli at jneil@themountainpress.com or on Twitter at @NeilWatsonJ.