Humane Society Director Candy Bacon said the first priority of any pet owner should be spaying and neutering. The Humane Society operates several low cost spay and neuter programs ranging from a voucher cost of $20 to $77.
Each voucher entitles the owner of a pet to transportation of the pet to and from the Spay Neuter Veterinary Clinic in Vass, a pre-surgical examination, surgery, a one year rabies vaccine and pain medication as needed. There is no additional cost if the female dog or cat is in-heat or pregnant; dogs 51 pounds or more cost an additional $10.
Richmond County households receiving Medicaid, Food Stamps, WorkFirst, Health Choice, adoption or foster care assistance, or Medical Qualifying Benefits, through the Department of Social Services can purchase a voucher for $20 for the Local Cost Public Assistance (LIPA) Spay/Neuter Program — making spaying and neutering accessible to all income levels.
Proof of public assistance, a picture ID and a copy of a utility bill showing name and a Richmond County address are needed at the time of voucher purchase.
If an animal has a current rabies vaccine and the pet owner can show proof with a valid rabies certificate at the time the voucher is purchased, there is a $2 discount. The total cost would then be $18.
Bacon said there are no residency or income restrictions to purchase what she calls the “full price” vouchers.
With these vouchers a male cat neuter costs $57, a female cat and a male or female dog voucher costs $67. If the male or female dog is 51 pounds or more, there is an extra $10 charge.
If an animal has a current rabies vaccine and the pet owner can show proof, with a valid rabies certificate, there is a $7 discount. Vouchers costs would then be $50, $60 or $70, respectively.
Typically, a pet owner would pay an additional $50 to $200 more for the spaying or neutering services at a veterinarian’s office. Pet owners can read more about the Spay Neuter Veterinary Clinic in Vass at http://www.companionanimalclinic.org.
The Richmond County Humane Society is entering its third year of working with the Spay Neuter Veterinary Clinic.
Bacon reports that from Dec. 13, 2007 to Feb. 10, 2009, 625 shelter animals and 1,160 public animals have been transported to the clinic for surgery. The surgical cost savings to the public for their pets is $160,070. 604 animals received their rabies vaccines through this program.
Bacon said for every child born today, 65 puppies and 85 kittens are born. Two cats and their offspring can equal a total of 80,399,780 cats at the end of 10 years.
In Richmond County alone, more than 2,500 animals are euthanized each year simply because there are not enough homes. The savings in unwanted births and unnecessary euthanasias are reasons enough to take advantage of these low cost programs, Bacon said.
Microchip implantation is also available at the Spay Neuter Clinic in Vass for an additional $20. With this chip, if your pet is lost or stolen and ends up at an animal shelter, it will be scanned for the Microchip.
Bacon said collars, tags and microchips are life savers — 30 percent of the euthanasias that occur at the shelter are due to no identification available.
The Humane Society will have one its representatives in the lobby of Richmond County DSS Thursday, Feb. 18 and 25 from 8:30-11:30 a.m. Vouchers are always available at the animal shelter at 529 Business 74 West, on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 12-4 p.m. and Sunday, 1-4 p.m. The shelter is closed to the public on Wednesday.
Cash, local checks, debit cards, VISA, MasterCard and Discover are accepted. For more information, contact the animal shelter at 895-0335 during the hours listed above. Information is also available in the lobby of DSS or from individual social workers.
Bacon said the surgical appointments for March are already 75 percent full, so pet owners are urged to purchase their vouchers as soon as possible.
“Take a little bit of that income tax refund and be a responsible pet owner,” Bacon said. “Spay or neuter your furry family friends while updating their rabies vaccines and see a veterinarian for a deworming, vaccines and heartworm prevention.”