Pet Responsibility Panel Plans Mobile Spay/Neuter Program
The Citizens Pet Responsibility Committee will make an official report to the county commissioners that includes plans for a temporary mobile spay/neuter program in coming months.
In its first report, the pet panel may also ask the Moore County Board of Commissioners for financial assistance to keep the program afloat until the nonprofit Companion Animal Clinic can become operational later next year.
Angela Zumwalt, who chairs the committee, is expected to ask for a place on the Sept. 5 agenda of the commissioners.
Dr. Tom Daniel told the committee at a Wednesday night meeting that the mobile unit needs to perform 30 procedures a day to make the operation cost effective. He estimated that $2,100 a day would be needed to cover the cost.
Regular fees for spay/neuter procedures are $90 for a dog and $60 for a cat. The cost could be reduced by offering financial assistance to low-income pet owners, perhaps through an allocation from the county.
The fee includes the surgery and a rabies shot but not microchip implantation. Daniel said chips could be provided for as low as $8, the minimum expense for the chip and registration in the national identification network.
In some cases, he said registration could be delayed, if the animals will be controlled at home by the owner. The county's animal control center maintains a database on pets that are microchipped, making identification available at the local level without national registration.
A veterinarian would travel to Moore County in a mobile unit and would need volunteers for reception and dealings with the public but not for the procedure itself, Daniel told the committee. He said volunteers in the operating room are often more trouble than help but are welcomed in other aspects of the program.
Daniel, a veterinarian, is spearheading the movement to establish a Companion Animal Clinic for Moore County and several neighboring counties that should offer spay/neuter services by next summer.
Zumwalt displayed a list of people who signed up to have their pets spayed or neutered if a special emphasis can be held in Robbins. The committee was represented at Farmers Day festivities in Robbins early this month.
The list was long.
"It looks like we have enough business in Robbins to keep us busy till the Companion Animal Clinic opens," Daniel said.
Meeting at the Agriculture Center in Carthage, the committee discussed measures to ensure sufficient participation on the days the mobile unit comes to Moore County, including establishment of a fee system that will cover costs and still be reasonable to the public.
Funds will be needed to cover feral cats, animals that live in the wild and have no owners to pay their fees.
Corky O'Connor, a leader in the Humane Society, said that about 80 percent of the callers complaining about the presence of feral cats do not want the cats killed, they just want them spayed or neutered to prevent the birth of more feral cat litters.
Zumwalt said she would make a presentation to the commissioners at the Sept. 5 meeting and encouraged committee members to join her. The report is among the stipulations set by the commissioners earlier this year when the committee was appointed to work on the county's growing problems with dog and cat overpopulation.
"The county -- the taxpayers -- pay the price ultimately," said committee member Mary Jo Morris. "We all pay for it."
Her comment came after some members asked if they should seek contributions from the public rather than asking the county for help.
Under state law, counties are required to administer animal control programs as a public health measure.
Focus group leaders gave reports on the work of their teams, including communications, education and adoptions.
For the communications team, Zumwalt showed clips from computer-generated shows that can be used to educate the public about the spay/neuter program. One set features work at a spay/neuter clinic for cats.
Beverly Lashley, speaking for the education team, gave an update on efforts to introduce the benefits to children in K-5 grades. A teacher, Lashley is working with Linda Hubbard, the school system's volunteer coordinator, in planning appropriate projects for children.
Florence Gilkeson can be reached at 947-4962 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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