PORT ANGELES — A group of animal welfare advocates has banded together to start a service offering low cost spay and neuter clinics for the pets of low income residents in Clallam County.
Spay to Save held an informational meeting last week in the Raymond Carver Room at the Port Angles Library to raise awareness and funds for the clinic they hope to open in Port Angeles by next November.
Close to two dozen animal lovers, advocates and government officials mingled and gathered information about the group last Thursday.
Port Angeles resident Barbara Offerman attended in support of the group’s goal.
“We have too many animals running loose,” she said. “This is something that is very much needed in the area. It will help people who can’t afford it [spaying and neutering].”
Offerman has firsthand experience in cats gone wild. She has adopted three feral cats that moved onto her property from a neighboring feral cat colony.
She has had two of the cats spayed and neutered, and will neuter the third cat in the spring. She has also provided them with outdoor cat houses.
Not all stray or feral cats and dogs are that lucky.
Spay to Save President Sue Miles noted that the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society shelter takes in about 3,000 animals a year. One-third of those are euthanized.
“That’s why we’re addressing the pet overpopulation,” she said. “We hope to reduce the number of pets going in to be put to sleep — or left to die on the streets.”
She said the clinic will be able to offer spayings and neuterings in the $35 to $65 range, considerably lower than most veterinarian clinics.
Spay to Save hopes to raise $100,000 in the coming year in order to open a spay and neuter clinic in the Port Angeles area. A location has not been chosen.
The group has achieved 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, and has already received one hefty contribution.
She said the group recently received a $25,000 matching donation from an anonymous source. All funds received up to $25,000 will be matched by this donor, bringing the total to $50,000.
“That’s halfway to our goal,” she said. “It’s just fantastic.”
Karen Goschen, finance director for the city of Sequim, became involved with the group because of her interest in animal welfare.
“Spay to Save’s goal is to reduce the pet overpopulation, instead of just treating the results,” she said.
The group is working with the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society, Peninsula Friends of Animals, Friends of Forks Animals and the Olympic Animal Sanctuary in Forks.
Miles said these organizations, some of whom perform spaying and neutering on adoptable animals, will be able to use the Spay to Save clinic, as well as referring low-income clients.
Some of these groups offer spaying and neutering funding assistance, but in limited amounts.
‘It’s really important’
“I think it’s really important that we are partnering together,” she said. “We all agree we have to try to control the pet population through spay and neuter.”
Spay to Save plans to employ a veterinarian and staff at the clinic, and will provide free transport for animals to and from the clinic.
County residents who wish to use their services will have to apply, and show proof of income. Eligibility will be determined by income, according to state guidelines.
Kathy Ninneman, Spay to Save treasurer, said the group has held one fundraising garage sale so far, and has a grant writer assisting in securing funding.
She said in the near future the group plans to provide transportation service from local animal assistance shelters for animals in need of specialized vet care.
What donations buy
The group offered a list of what donations at different amounts would buy.
For example, $25 will fund vaccines and a microchip for one animal, $50 will pay for one spaying or neutering operation, $500 will purchase vaccines and medicines, while $2,500 will purchase surgical supplies and $10,000 will fund the purchase of surgical instruments.
The nonprofit status means donations will be tax-deductible.
Patt Doyle, from Friends of Forks Animals, attended the event in a supportive role.
The group has been working for 15 years in Forks to place animals in rescue programs, she said, adding that the city of Forks technically has no animal shelter.
The city holds abandoned or surrendered pets for up to a week, then turns them over — up to 100 a year — to the Friends of Forks Animals.
Doyle is looking forward to Spay to Save reducing those numbers.
“It’s what we need to get done,” she said. “It’s one way to put me out of business. I think if we can get people educated enough to think spaying and neutering is the norm, it will reduce the number of animals in shelters by half.”
Also in attendance were representatives of several branches of local government, including Port Angeles Chief of Police Terry Gallagher, Forks Chief of Police Mike Powell, Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict, Port Angeles City Councilwoman Cherie Kidd, Clallam County Commissioner Mike Doherty and County Administrator Jim Jones.
“They were all so supportive,” Miles said. “They all said we need to do this — it will help everyone.”
‘Win, win, win situation’
Controlling animals uses taxpayer money, she said, and reducing the number of pets will reduce the money spent on that endeavor.
“It’s a win, win, win situation,” she said.
Donations may be made to Spay to Save by mail to P.O. Box 2453, Port Angeles, WA 98362.
For more information, phone Miles at 360-928-2501.
The group has a Web site at www.spay2save.org, but it is not fully operational yet.
________Features Editor Marcie Miller can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at marcie.miller@peninsuladaily news.com.