David Matthews, an animal attendant with the Oktibbeha County Humane Society, plays with Artemis, at the animal shelter on Industrial Park Road on Monday. OCHS received a $150,000 grant from PetSmart Charities to help spay and neuter pets at discounted rates for pet owners. Photo by: Alex Holloway/Dispatch Staff
March 19, 2019 10:33:46 AM
Oktibbeha County Humane Society would love to put itself out of business.
Martha Thomas, OCHS director of development and community relations, said that's actually any animal shelter's goal. In order to achieve that feat, Thomas said OCHS is trying to decrease the animal population in Oktibbeha County. Earlier this year, OCHS received a $150,000 grant from PetSmart Charities to help fund Fido Fixers, a low-cost spay and neuter program that started at OCHS last May.
Through the program, pet owners can bring their animals to the humane society for spaying or neutering at a subsidized rate if they meet certain household income standards (for example, $40,000 or less for a single-person home and $50,000 or less for a two-person household).
"This program is trying to help decrease the amount of animals that are sheltered," Thomas said. "If everybody spayed and neutered their pets, there would pretty much not be a need for an animal shelter. We would love to put ourselves out of business. We don't think that would happened but it would be wonderful."
PetSmart Charities, a nonprofit through the chain pet store, helps fund smaller nonprofits. Last year, PetSmart Charities donated $42.8 million to about 4,000 organizations nationwide.
"PetSmart Charities' mission is to find loving homes for all pets, and we do this by supporting programs that bring people and pets together," PetSmart Charities Senior PR manager Yosha Brunson Kuhl sent in an email. "With the help of generous PetSmart shoppers who donate using the PIN pads at store registers, PetSmart Charities provides grant funding to nonprofits aligned with its mission."
With the additional $150,000 grant, Thomas said OCHS can fix up to 2,000 pets. Since May of last year, OCHS has fixed 1,600 pets. Thomas said OCHS will also purchase a "small unit" to help kennel animals before and after surgeries.
She added pet owners can contact OCHS on its website www.ochsms.org/spay-neuter/ or call 662-368-8343 to arrange an appointment for the discounted spay and neuter. As of now, Thomas said OCHS performs surgeries three days a week and is averaging about 200 surgeries a month.
"For the most part, it's done at a mobile unit at our shelter," Thomas said. "We have been taking the mobile unit to different locations as we've had interest. We've been traveling regularly to Meridian to help out over there. It has a surgical unit on the back and kennel space to hold onto the animals while they're waiting to get fixed."
On average, a spay or neuter for a cat can costs up to $100 while a dog can range from $115 to $200. Fido Fixers offers to fix a cat for $20 for and dog for $40.
"The number of animals we've fixed so far, just thinking about if each one of those had a litter, we've already made a significant impact in our community," Thomas said. "That's thousands of animals that are not being born in our community and not ending up (in) shelters. We are really excited about this program and thankful for the PetSmart Charities grant that allows to do it."
Columbus-Lowndes Humane Society
Columbus-Lowndes Humane Society also offers low-cost spay and neuters for college students, as well as anybody who is receiving government assistance. The program is geared toward helping families who are current pet owners of cats or dogs but can't afford the cost of getting them fixed.
CLHS Director Karen Johnwick said funds are raised generally through "word of mouth."
"It is pretty much for low to median income," Johnwick said. "If you can afford to take your pets to a vet, we encourage that because we want you to have a vet relationship. We want to help all the lower income areas that (are) struggling. We want our program to be geared toward that."
The low-cost spay and neuters costs $35 for cats and $45 for dogs. CLHS offers surgeries once a week on Wednesdays and can perform up to 30 surgeries a week. Johnwick said pet owners must come in, pay for surgery and get on a waiting list for surgery.
"Right now, (the waiting list is) just a couple weeks," Johnwick said. "In spring, when all the cats are pregnant, it can get up to a six to eight week wait. It's very important, not only from the health aspect but also the number of puppies and kittens that come into the shelter. If you're not going to be a legit breeder, you really want to spay and neuter. It's that time, especially for cats. It's time to get them in and get them fixed."
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