Mountaineer Spay Neuter Assistance Program was awarded a $50,000 grant from The Peterman Foundation.
The program — known as M-SNAP — has a mission to eliminate euthanasia as a means of pet population control in Monongalia County, said Nancy Young, treasurer and chair of community outreach.
“We know that spay and neuter is the only viable solution to pet overpopulation,” Young said. “We don’t rescue, foster, transport or adopt. We just fix them.”
Euthanasia at shelters is the number one killer of unwanted dogs and cats in West Virginia, she said.
Residents of Monongalia County can call M-SNAP and request a voucher for a free spay or neuter at one of 13 area veterinary clinics, Young said.
There are no income requirements to receive a voucher, but the program asks people requesting one “honestly need help,” Young said.
The nonprofit organization sent out its first voucher in 2009 and issued more than 10,500 since, Young said. In total, M-SNAP spent more than $700,000 fixing pets in Monongalia County.
The Peterman Foundation issued its first series of grants in 2011, said treasurer Sheri Smith. The private foundation was established by Morgantown locals Richard and Margret Peterman to provide free spaying and neutering to cats and dogs in Monongalia and surrounding counties, she said.
Grants from The Peterman Foundation are directly responsible for 569 animals getting fixed, Young said.
Young said M-SNAP had a noticeable reduction in the number of pets killed each year. In 2009, the Monongalia County Canine Adoption Shelter — the county’s animal shelter — euthanized 1,349 cats and dogs.
In 2018, the shelter killed just 609 cats and dogs.
Education is the second component to eliminating euthanasia in Mon County, Young said. The organization attends Kid’s Day, Mountaineer Week, the Pet Expo, Women’s Expo and WVU’s Freshmen Welcome Week.
“You can’t do one without the other,” she said of the education.
Fixing offers many benefits to both owner and pet. Spaying before a female cat or dog before its first heat virtually eliminates breast cancer and uterine infections, Young said. Additionally, fixing an animal helps reduce many, but not all, behavioral problems.
Pets should be fixed early, Young said. Cats can reproduce as young as four months and dogs as young as six months. Cats can have up to three litters a year and go into heat for four or five days every three weeks during breeding season.
Grants aren’t the only source of money for M-SNAP. Retails, a thrift store in the Mountaineer Mall, also raises funds for the program.
Young said the staff at the store is all volunteer.