We’ve never gone looking for a cat; they’ve always found us. Tovah, along with her four siblings, was delivered to our door by a starving mama cat. Louie was taken in when no one else would step up to adopt him. Jack and Sparky simply appeared at my shop, hungry and flea-infested.
They all had happy endings, becoming integral members of the Glazer household, each filling their own special niche in the family pecking order.
Our dogs, too, have always been rescues, glorious mutts who are the embodiment of the best of no telling how many different breeds.
And what do all of these animals with happy endings have in common? They never should have been born.
Just consider our dog, Ginger. She’s a loving, goofy amalgam of retriever and spaniel. She was picked up in the eastern part of the county by animal control when she was half grown, running loose with no collar or microchip. She’s curled up at my feet as I type, patiently waiting for me to scratch her ear or simply speak her name.
Now, big dogs like Ginger have big litters. So what happened to her innumerable siblings? Some probably never made it across White Sulphur Road. Perhaps a few were picked up by animal control and were not lucky enough to be adopted. Some ran loose, hungry and unloved until they finally became feral. And through it all these intact animals have continued to reproduce.
Statistics from Spay USA reveal that for each kitten or cat spayed, the number of unwanted felines is reduced by 12 per year; for each puppy or dog spayed, the number of unwanted puppies is reduced by 16 per year.
Let’s do the math. An unspayed female cat, her mate and all of their offspring, producing two litters per year, with just three or fewer surviving kittens per litter can total 66,088 cats in six years. An unspayed female dog, her mate and all of their puppies, if none are ever neutered or spayed, can add 67,000 dogs to the animal population. More than 12 million cats and dogs are euthanized every year in America.
There will never be enough happy endings to absorb a bourgeoning population like that.
What more compelling case can there be for spay and neuter surgeries? These unwanted animals would never need to be captured, housed and euthanized. They would never suffer abuse, starvation, neglect and death on the streets.
The Humane Society of Northeast Georgia on Ridge Road offers a low-cost spay and neuter clinic, basic wellness services and preventative treatments for cats and dogs. There are no residency or income restrictions. To date, they’ve performed almost 40,000 surgeries.
Sadly, these are challenging economic times. Every family is forced to make tough financial decisions and sometimes budgets can’t be stretched to accommodate even low-cost services.
Enter Helenya Gradiage, founder of Nuvo Visage, a Hall County-based business that markets heating and cooling full face gel masks.
After she discovered a litter of abandoned puppies in a field, Gradiage and her company offered to underwrite the SNIP (Spay/Neuter Incentive Program) fund at the HSNEGA. It covers the cost of one surgery and a rabies vaccine per week at the Spay/Neuter Center.
HSNEGA President Rick Aiken says in a press release: “We hear from pet owners almost daily who really want to do the right thing for their pet by having it spayed or neutered, but they simply do not have the money. This program will give us a way to try to help some of these owners and their pets and, in turn, impact the tremendous pet overpopulation problem in our area.”
Aiken says the program is intended to specifically help “at need” pet owners, such as seniors on a limited income, or disabled or low-income pet owners, who cannot afford surgery for their animals.
Anyone interested in a free surgery can pick up an application at the HSNEGA or download it at the shelter’s website, www.HSNEGA.org. Surgeries will be performed at HSNEGA’s Spay/Neuter Center by appointment; other rules for approved surgeries also will apply.
Businesses and individuals can underwrite SNIP services, too. A $50 donation covers a surgery and, if needed, rabies vaccination. The program, which began in May, has so far approved 15 SNIP fund surgeries and has received $300 in other donations—$100 from a business and $200 from an individual.
Spay and neuter services also are offered at the Hall County Animal Shelter, 1688 Barber Road in Gainesville, for $50, by appointment; call 678-450-1587.
I know the next time I need to select a gift for an animal-loving friend, a SNIP donation in his or her name makes a lot more sense than yet another dog mug or cat sweatshirt.
Teressa Glazer is a Gainesville businesswoman. Her column appears biweekly on Fridays and at gainesvilletimes.com/viewpoint.