January 13, 2012
Pasco creates low-income pet spay and neuter program
Lee Logan Tampa Bay Times In Print: Friday, January 13, 2012
Pasco officials are rolling out a new spay and neuter program they hope will curb animal overpopulation and ultimately reduce the number of dogs and cats that are put down.
Targeted at low-income pet owners, the program allows people to spay or neuter their dog for $20 and get a similar procedure for their cat for $10. Fees cover an examination, sterilization surgery, a rabies shot and a county registration tag. Other states with similar programs have seen sharp declines in the number of animals brought to public shelters, said county Animals Services director John Malley. "The less animals that come in, that means less euthanasia," he said. "I'd be happy with a 25 percent decrease in intake. That would greatly help us." County commissioners approved the program Tuesday. Residents can immediately begin applying for the spay and neuter discounts through the nonprofit Spay Pasco that administers the program.
The new effort complements an existing rebate program that has not worked as well as expected. Animals Services gives all registered pet owners a $40 rebate off a typical $150 fee for a spay surgery. Only dogs are eligible, and owners must pay up front and wait up to six weeks for a rebate check. Those rebates will remain in effect. The existing rebate "helps for the middle-income family or people who just wanted that incentive to spay or neuter," said San Antonio veterinarian Diana Mattox, who is also president of Spay Pasco. "It didn't work for truly low-income people." Malley said it can be hard for a family to pay for a spay or neuter surgery "when that means the difference of putting food on the table or clothes on your children."
Spay Pasco in 2007 launched a scaled-down version of the low-income pet sterilization program with grant money, but the grants ran out a little more than year ago. Mattox said the grant program helped reduce the number of animals brought to the county's shelter. Here's how the program works: People apply to Spay Pasco, which checks their information and issues a certificate. That usually takes about two weeks. Owners can then schedule an appointment with one of 12 participating clinics and use the certificate to get the discount. The veterinarians, in turn, collect a set amount for each procedure from Spay Pasco, which has received county funding for the program. To be eligible, pet owners must receive benefits under one of several government assistance programs like food stamps or Medicaid. People can also provide pay stubs or a tax return showing their household income falls under state low-income limits.
The program is similar to a statewide low-income spay and neuter program in New Hampshire that began in 1994. According to research from Mattox, that state put down 70 percent fewer animals after the program's first seven years. Pasco also joins several other Florida counties that provide low-income spay and neuter services. After Hillsborough adopted its program in 2002, it saw the number of euthanized animals drop from about 30,000 in 2005 to a little less than 20,000 by 2009. "It absolutely is something that has been valuable for us," said Hillsborough animal services spokeswoman Marti Ryan. "We highly recommend it." If Pasco sees similar success, Malley expects it will boost employee morale at Animal Services. "It gives them a ray of light for what has traditionally been for years an unwinnable battle," he said.
The program will cost $45,000 the first year, which will cover 450 dogs and 450 cats. By the third year, the program is expected to include 2,000 animals. Money for the new program comes from pet registration fees currently set aside for the rebate program. That program has been running a surplus for several years. Two years ago, it took in $160,000 while issuing $60,000 in rebates. Malley said the county expects to collect enough fees to pay for both programs for at least the next seven years.
Lee Logan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6236.
March 11, 2011 - Spay Pasco receives donation from Pasco Middle Schoolers.
Lynne Rosseger¡¯s 4th period Civics class at Pasco Middle School, participating in the program "Project Citizen", presented their class project to the Pasco County Board of Commissioners on March 11, 2011. The class raised over $700 which they donated to Spay Pasco. Their donation was matched by an anonymous donor bringing the total to over $1,400.
PetSmart Charities Awards Spay Pasco $5,000 Grant.
(San Antonio, Florida) Spay Pasco received a $5,000 grant to help increase the number of sterilization surgeries for feral cats. The organization¡¯s 2-year-old feral cat sterilization program successfully alters an average of more than 400 cats per year, to proactively fight the area¡¯s dire homeless pet overpopulation problem.
The grant will allow Spay Pasco to offer feral cat surgeries at a discounted price of $15; the program also includes a rabies vaccination. The cats can be taken to several participating clinics throughout the county to be spayed or neutered. Spay Pasco¡¯s goal is to eliminate homeless pet overpopulation in Pasco County. <pasco.¡¡ mattox, are excited be able offer for discounted price $15 (normal cost $25). hope that this will increase total number spay neuter surgeries preformed. one female cat and her offspring have the potential to produce thousands additional feral cats, every sterilization surgery truly does make a difference in our community," said president of
"We are excited to be able to offer feral cat surgeries for a discounted price of $15 (normal cost $25). We hope that this will increase the total number of spay/neuter surgeries preformed. Since one female cat and her offspring have the potential to produce thousands of additional feral cats, every sterilization surgery truly does make a difference in our community," said Diana Mattox, president of Spay Pasco.
"Spay Pasco is an excellent example of a spay/neuter program that is taking the initiative to improve the local community" said Mary Andrews, treasurer for Spay Pasco.
"We are now working with even more organizations and hope to see even better results in 2010" remarked Carol Comer, vice president for Spay Pasco.
Our agency was founded in July of 2007 by Diana Mattox, DVM. Her aspiration is to help end the homeless pet overpopulation in Pasco County by spaying and neutering companion animals and feral cats. Dr. Mattox, along with a small group of volunteers with a passion for animals, joined together to create Spay Pasco.
To date Spay Pasco works with numerous veterinary hospitals and other organizations to make this program the success that it is. No one could do this job alone; it takes the collaboration of our many partners to make it victorious. For more information on our feral cat program, please call 352.585.6205 or visit our Web site at www.spaypasco.com.
Spay Pasco loves cats, wants fewer of them
By Erin Sullivan, Times Staff Writer
Published Thursday, March 20, 2008 7:28 PM
SAN ANTONIO ¡ª Becky Jones is so passionate about reducing the feral cat population in Pasco County that she found herself coercing her nearly 70-year-old mother to sit in a dog cage.
It's one of the plans that Jones, practice manager for the San Antonio Animal Hospital and a board member for Spay Pasco, has to raise money. Her mom ¡ª who also dressed as Santa at the animal hospital this year ¡ª and the aforementioned cage will be at Spay Pasco's booth at the Dade City Cruise-In on April 5.
Jones had the idea that people could donate money to the nonprofit organization, with the crux that her mom won't be let out of the cage until they reach a certain amount of donations, say, 100 bucks or so. It's like a PBS telethon, except with Charlie Rose locked in a booth.
"Who could walk past and let an old lady stay in a cage?" Jones said, jokingly and with affection. She and her mom choose to find the good in life and are up for anything, if it saves the lives of animals.
This will be Spay Pasco's first time staffing a booth at the Cruise-In, which has antique cars and food and vendors from 3 to 8 p.m. the first Saturday of each month in downtown Dade City. Spay Pasco, which began last summer and has a goal of spaying and neutering all the feral cats in eastern Pasco, is gaining force. It has more volunteers (though it always needs more) and its own building on the grounds of the animal hospital. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the building will be at noon Tuesday, with light refreshments served.
Dr. Diana Joyner-Mattox founded Spay Pasco and she volunteers her time every Friday to do the spay and neuter surgeries. Volunteers trap and transport the cats to the hospital. Though Spay Pasco, right now, focuses on feral cat colonies in eastern Pasco, it will later include cats and dogs across the county and will work toward legislation aimed at getting the stray animal population to zero.
Joyner-Mattox said more than 10,000 cats and dogs are euthanized in Pasco County each year because there is no place for them. And the veterinarian can't stand it that healthy animals are being killed just because they don't have a home. Spay Pasco offers low-cost spay and neutering for the animals of people who otherwise couldn't afford it. The fee is $25 per cat, which barely covers the cost of the procedure ¡ª not including time spent catching and transporting the kitties.
Since December, Spay Pasco has spayed or neutered 60 cats, which has saved thousands of lives, if not millions, because of the frequency with which cats reproduce.
"We are reducing the euthanasia rate in Pasco County," Jones said.
Erin Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 909-4609.
Having kitties nevermore
A veterinarian's nonprofit group offers a low-cost spay/neuter program for feral cats.
By ERIN SULLIVAN, Times Staff Writer
Published February 5, 2008
SAN ANTONIO - It was starting to get dark and cold, a strong wind blowing through the trees and old shed, but the women wouldn't leave. They had flashlights and huge nets and metal traps, laced with good-smelling food. They wanted at least one more, so they put on jackets and waited.
"I see an ear," Carol Comer said, shining a light into the shed's rafters.
They already had two oatmeal-and-chocolate Siamese cats and two black-and-white tuxedo kittens in cages in their vans, covered with soft blankets and given bowls of food. As night closed in, they got one more: a black-and-white tomcat, probably the kittens' father.
The women are volunteers for Spay Pasco, a nonprofit organization that offers low-cost spay and neutering for the animals of people who otherwise couldn't afford it. The fee is $25 per cat, which barely covers the cost of the procedure - not including time spent catching and transporting the kitties.
It was Thursday night at the home of an elderly couple who have been feeding a colony of feral cats. The couple live off a dirt road in Trilby, their land small and quiet and full of kumquat, grapefruit and orange trees and rusting tractors. They don't have much money, but the cats were hungry so they've been feeding them dry food. They aren't spry enough to trap the cats to bring them to a veterinarian's office to get them fixed - not that they could afford it, anyway. The cost for these surgeries can range from $90 to hundreds of dollars, depending on where you go.
A friend contacted Spay Pasco to see if it could help. And it could - though normally, people are asked to trap the cats themselves and bring them in for surgery.
These volunteers work and have busy lives, but they care about reducing the feral cat population and making sure these kitties are healthy.
Comer, a dog trainer, drove from her home in Brooksville to Trilby to catch these cats. Trapping feral cats is not easy. One time, she tried to catch a male cat outside her house so she could get him neutered. The first night, she caught a raccoon. The second night, she caught her own cat three times he couldn't stay away from the canned food, which he normally doesn't get.
"On the third night, I finally got that tomcat," Comer said.
At the Trilby house, after hours of enticing the kitties with canned food and sardines, they captured five. A trip back that night got one more. They aren't giving up on the other cats who live there, and will keep trying.
The cats were taken to the San Antonio Animal Hospital and spayed or neutered Friday morning. They also were de-wormed and given rabies shots. The cats' stitches will dissolve with time. Soon they will be released back on the couple's land. Most feral cats cannot be adopted - they've grown up wild, with a distrust of people.
Spay Pasco has been an idea in Dr. Diana Joyner-Mattox's mind for a few years, but it became a reality last summer. It is still gaining momentum and has about 10 volunteers. At the moment, Spay Pasco is focusing on reducing the feral cat population on the eastern side of Pasco County. Later, it will include cats and dogs across the county and will work toward legislation aimed at getting the stray animal population to zero.
More than 10,000 cats and dogs are euthanized in Pasco County each year because there is no place for them, said Joyner-Mattox, of the San Antonio Animal Hospital and founder of Spay Pasco.
"I don't have all the time in the world. I don't have all the money in the world," Joyner-Mattox said. "But I know I can make a little bit of difference here."
Her long-term goal is for Pasco County to never have to euthanize healthy animals just because they don't have a home. Instead of focusing on adoption, Joyner-Mattox is going to the source: making sure animals can't have the litters of babies that are unwanted and not cared for. Spay Pasco was recently approved by the state as a nonprofit, so money donated to the cause is tax-deductible. The organization is looking for an executive director, who will organize outreach projects, advertise, network, apply for grants, do the scheduling, create coalitions with other agencies and do other work with Spay Pasco.
"We are euthanizing these animals as a convenience," Joyner-Mattox said. "And that is not acceptable."
Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 909-4609
Low Income Spay/Neuter
Funding from Pasco County Pet License Fees along with the support of participating Veterinarians allows us to assist low income pet owners in Pasco County with spaying and neutering their pets.Read More
Trap Neuter Return
Feral, un-owned cats are spayed / neutered at participating veterinary hospitals by appointment. The cost is $10 per cat and includes rabies vaccination and spay/neuter.Read More
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