SARANAC LAKE - Since October 2010, the Tri-Lakes Humane Society has been distributing spay and neuter assistance vouchers to low-income families. A $10,000 grant from Friends of Animals initiated the cause, but after two-and-a-half years, the money is beginning to dwindle.
A recent $5,000 grant from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will extend that.
Shelter manager Lena Bombard said last week she is "excited to keep the program in operation.
Shelter manager Lena Bombard poses with two spayed kittens at the Tri-Lakes Humane Society in Saranac Lake.
(Photo — Caleb Combs)
"The statistics for animal populations are way too high, and they need to be taken care of," she said.
There are more than 100 animals currently being cared for at the shelter, and the number continues to increase. The shelter is a no-kill facility, so the most effective measure to prevent animal overpopulation is spaying and neutering.
Animals can undergo the surgery as young as six months. The procedure is quick and leaves only a small cut that heals entirely in a just few weeks.
"Some owners fear the thought of their pets having to go through a surgery, but I assure you, it's for the best" Bombard said.
The vouchers only discount the cost of the operation to spay or neuter a pet - they don't cover it fully - and are accepted at nine participating veterinary clinics. They are sent to pet owners who cannot afford the full cost of the surgery.
Funding for the shelter's spay and neuter program comes primarily from grants, but small portions of adoption fees, along with other donations, keep the program operational. (Editor's note: The prior sentence has been corrected; no dog license fees go toward this program.)
Bombard believes the ASPCA grant will ensure another five to six months of assistance vouchers. The shelter has already given out 140 vouchers this year, but in 2011 the shelter handed out its highest total of 256 vouchers, equivalent to $13,550 altogether.
The shelter averages around $1,000 in vouchers a month.
Every animal that passes through the shelter has to be spayed or neutered.
"If we can keep the population of these animals down, we can also keep the costs of operating this shelter down" Bombard explained. There are donation canisters available in businesses located within the four counties the shelter covers. All of the collected donations go directly to the cause.
(Editor's note: This article has been corrected to delete a sentence that said a license must be obtained for a dog or cat that has not been spayed or neutered. The license must be obtained regardless of the animal's reproductive status.)