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Animal welfare orgs wrap up spay/neuter awareness month

Throughout the year, animal welfare organizations in the area work to reduce the number of homeless cats and dogs in Monongalia County and to promote appropriate care for homed pets.

Because February is spay/neuter awareness month, nonprofits make extra efforts to spread the word about the importance of the procedures, not only as a way to cut down on stray animals, but also for the health of the animals themselves.

Every year, to help combat the overpopulation of homeless animals, several organizations distribute spay/neuter vouchers to those who may not otherwise be able to afford the often-expensive procedure.  The vouchers are accepted at many local veterinary offices and can be used for no-cost or reduced spay/neuter surgeries.

Local nonprofit organization M-SNAP (Mountaineer Spay Neuter Assistance Program) held an event at the Morgantown Mall on Sunday, where they were prepared to distribute 100 of the vouchers, but the event was not as successful as it had been in the past.

M-SNAP Treasurer Nancy Young said they have held the event for several years and have always had long lines, but this year, for some unknown reason, only 21 people came to cash in.

Young said the group was fairly disappointed with the turnout, but hopes the advertisements that were run for the event may inspire people to get the surgery on their own.

“It would be great if it is because there isn’t a need for them, but I don’t think that is the case,” she said.

M-SNAP Volunteer Teddi Lester said there is a definite need for the vouchers as so far in 2023, her group alone has distributed over 360 vouchers to the community and averages around 1,500 each year.

“One unspayed cat can produce 20 kittens a year, so if they are not spayed or neutered it’s exponential how the population grows,” Lester said.

Numbers at the Monongalia County Canine Adoption Center (MCCAC) rose last year for the first time in several years and center Director Dana Johnson said she posted 10 of the spay/neuter vouchers on social media and they were claimed within 10 minutes.

“I was like, wow, that shows a real need in this community that in 10 minutes I filled up all 10 vouchers that I had,” Johnson said.

To finish out the month and celebrate World Spay Day, Spay Neuter Incentive Program of West Virginia (SNIP WV), the area’s first low-cost, high-volume spay and neuter clinic, held a “Feral Free Day” where they spayed or neutered 84 feral cats in one day.  

Earlier this month, SNIP WV collaborated with MCCAC for two “Dog Days” and 47 dogs got spayed or neutered. 

In total, the center performed 415 surgeries during February and has performed over 3,000 since they opened in July of last year.

Even though spay/neuter awareness month has come to a close, the problem exists year-round and so do the surgery vouchers.

Young and Lester said M-SNAP will still have the approximately 80 vouchers not distributed at Sunday’s event and will continue to have others available throughout the year, however it will not be as easy to get one as it would have been in person.

The all-volunteer group works to respond to phone calls and requests for vouchers as quickly as it can, but it does take a little time and patience to get through the process.

In addition to M-SNAP, Mon County Humane Society, Animal Friends of North Central West Virginia, Mountaineers 4 Mutts, Morgantown Stray & Feral Cat Rescue, Appalachian Peace Paws Rescue and Homeward Bound all offer spay/neuter assistance for pet owners.  Contact the individual organizations for information on eligibility requirements and how to apply.