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October 14, 2010

 

Spay-neuter clinic hopes to avoid cutbacks

Program that conducts thousands of surgeries annually trying to raise money

ClinicBob Ellis/staff photographer
Emily Tomak fills out paperwork as veterinarian Mike Greenberg neuters a small cat Saturday morning at the CNY Spay Neuter Assistance program on Central Avenue.

By JEREMY HOUGHTALING
Staff Reporter
A local nonprofit clinic that has spayed and neutered cats and dogs in Cortland over the last seven years needs more funding or it could be forced to cut back on the number of clinics it holds.
The Central New York Spay and Neuter Assistance Program has performed over 13,500 surgeries to date, 2,000 of which took place this year.
Known as SNAP, the program provides volunteers and a building at 178 Central Ave. to Shelter Outreach Services of Ithaca, which performs the surgeries on the animals.
“Right now it seems like this is insurmountable,” Janice Hinman, president of SNAP, said about the current animal overpopulation problem. “We can make a difference, but we have to be aggressive.”
The cost for a day’s worth of surgery is over $1,000, which doesn’t include about $15,000 annually in overhead, such as phone lines, supplies, and rent. Clinics are held at least once a week, and in the past six months, there have been about two clinics a week.
Each clinic day begins around 7 a.m., when the animals arrive and are prepared for surgery. Operations continue throughout the day, and generally all of the surgeries are complete by 7 p.m.
SNAP performs surgeries on about 25 to 30 animals in each clinic.
“To keep up with the demand, we either need more money or we need to cut back,” said Hinman.
Pet owners pay $80 for a female dog, $60 for a male dog, $50 for a female cat, and $30 for a male cat. Additional costs, if needed, are $5 for rabies or distemper shots and $3 for ear mite or flea treatments.
The group subsidizes costs for anyone who can’t afford the surgery, and sometimes will subsidize the entire cost after a verbal interview.
“Money and volunteers are the biggest challenges,” Hinman said.
She said the group has about 20 volunteers, many of whom help after the operations, by taking out tubes and monitoring the animals. They also help feed the animals, clean cages and various other tasks.
Hinman says SNAP does not get much in the way of individual donations, and instead relies mostly on numerous grants that have kept the program running, including $8,500 total over the past three years from the Cortland Community Foundation, $5,000 from PetCo, and $1,000 from NASCAR driver Greg Biffle.
“Most grants are now asking how much of an impact you are making, but it’s hard to quantitate,” Hinman said.
To measure its impact, SNAP has begun to target certain areas instead of a more widespread approach. Hinman estimates the number of animals in a certain community, like a mobile home park, then focuses on solving the problem for just that area.
One example of the targeted approach was a mobile home park in Homer about three years ago. A woman was feeding stray cats, and contacted SNAP to get the cats spayed and neutered. Over 100 cats were brought in. SNAP made sure the cats were fixed, vaccinated and healthy.
The woman now helps monitor the park, and tells people who move in with animals about the program.
“That’s not normal,” Hinman said of the woman’s effort. “That’s what we need.”
Other than funding, Hinman said the program is in need of towels, sheets and blankets, which it uses to wrap the animals with after surgery, as well as bleach, laundry and dish soap.
“Those are the things that nickel and dime us to death,” Hinman said.
Although it is not their main objective, SNAP also keeps some of the stray cats that it has room for, in hopes that it can find the cats a home. Hinman estimated the organization has enough space for about 30 cats.
“If you look at the number of animals, it’s staggering,” Hinman said of animal overpopulation. “I don’t think anyone realizes how big this problem is.”
According to the Humane Society, the United States’ largest animal protection agency, between 6 million and 8 million animals enter shelters every year. It estimates about half of those are euthanized. Hinman said there are no estimations for Cortland or the Central New York area.
“If we can show people this works, the numbers go down and the animals are healthier, people will be able to see there is help,” Hinman said. “Low-cost spaying and neutering is the answer.”
For more information contact SNAP at 607-756-2561.

 

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