The Kitsap Humane Society (KHS) has received three grants in support of its spay/neuter programs. The Handsel Foundation, a private family foundation, awarded $10,000; The Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island awarded $6,987.75; and the Bainbridge Community Foundation awarded $5,000.
“Kitsap Humane Society veterinarians completed a record 3,700 spay/neuter surgeries in 2012 and are working to increase that number by 10% in 2013,” said KHS Executive Director Eric Stevens, a Bainbridge resident. “So far they have performed almost 1,900 surgeries. These grants will enable us to make continued progress in the prevention of unwanted litters that invariably end up at the shelter in great numbers, especially kittens.“
The Bainbridge Rotary grant specifically provides for 15 large and small spay-neuter packs that include specialized forceps, needle holders, surgical towels, and other equipment that must be individually sterilized and wrapped for each surgery. Dr. Jennifer Stonequist, director of shelter medicine at KHS, said, “We are able to complete each spay/neuter surgery within a few minutes depending on the type of animal and size, but when all the spay/neuter packs are used up, we have to wait while the used ones are being re-sterilized and wrapped, which is the time-intensive part of the process. Having more of these packs will allow us to complete significantly more surgeries.”
The spay/neuter program is a priority of KHS, because it reduces pet overpopulation and lowers costs of caring for homeless animals that come through the KHS system. “When you consider that an unaltered female cat and her offspring have the potential to produce 17 cats in two years, 55 in three years, 175 in four years until the number reaches over 5,000 at seven years, it becomes clear why there is a crisis in the overpopulation of companion animals in the United States,” said Stonequist. “We are committed to reducing the population and relieving the strain on shelters like KHS.”
Kitsap Humane Society spay/neuter programs include partnerships with other rescue organizations such as PAWS of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap and PAWS of Bremerton.
KHS Spay/Neuter Programs
- Low-Income-Household Services. KHS offers ongoing, low-cost spay-neuter services, including Cat Fix Days every second and last Tuesday of the month, to pets of low-income residents of Kitsap and Mason counties. “Low-income” is defined as an annual income of $51,750 or less in a 3-member household and $57,500 or less in a 4-member household.
- Free Spay/Neuter Services for Litters. KHS will fix litters (at least 2 months old) and find them forever homes. KHS will also spay/neuter and return the parent(s) free of charge.
- Free Pit Bull Spay/Neuter Services. KHS offers a no-cost spaying/neutering for low-income owners of pit bulls or pit bull mixes. KHS offers this service because pit bulls are currently the most common breed or mixed breed surrendered in the nation’s shelters. More and more pit bulls are bred each year, adding to an already staggering pet overpopulation crisis.
- Free Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Services. Community Cats Program funded by PetSmart Charities® is underway this year at KHS. The program’s goal is to trap, spay/neuter, and release 600 feral cats in Bremerton. Four months into the program, KHS has altered 167 feral cats. For more information, visit kitsap-humane.org/community-cats.
For more information on all of Kitsap Humane Society’s spay/neuter programs, visit kitsap-humane.org/low-cost-spay-neuter-program-0 or call 360-692-6977.
Spay/Neuter Frequently Asked Questions (courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society)
What is spaying and neutering? The words “spay” and “neuter” refer to the surgical sterilization of female and male pets by removing reproductive organs.
Why so young? Because pets can get pregnant much sooner than most people think—kittens and puppies as early as two months, and over half of the more than 70,000 puppies and kittens born every day are the result of accidental litters mostly due to the confusion over when to spay and neuter.
Isn’t two months too young? Pets can be fixed safely as young as eight weeks. And younger pets tend to bounce back quicker from the procedure. Because pet health may vary, please check with your veterinarian to find the best time to spay or neuter your pet.
Is fixing my pet dangerous? While both spaying and neutering are major medical procedures, they are also the most common surgeries practiced by veterinarians. Your pet should have a thorough examination before undergoing the procedure to make sure they are healthy enough for surgery.
Will my pet be in a lot of pain? Your pet will be under anesthesia for the procedure, and usually mild pain-control medications easily manage any discomfort resulting from the procedure. Recovery from the surgery is surprisingly quick. In fact, most dogs and cats are back to normal within 24 to 48 hours.
Is spaying or neutering a pet expensive? Costs vary by community, but you can usually find a veterinarian who will fix your dog for less than $150 and your cat for less than $50. That’s much less than the costs of properly caring for a pregnant pet and the resulting litter of puppies or kittens, or the cost paid by taxpayers to support shelters that must care for and kill homeless animals if an adoption family cannot be found.
Will my pet get fat? Just like people, pets become overweight from improper nutrition or lack of exercise. Good diet and exercise can help keep your pet healthy.
Will my pet’s personality change? Spaying or neutering is unlikely to change temperament, basic personality, or levels of playfulness and general activity. However, it can have a positive effect as some behavioral issues, especially sexual behaviors such as mounting, howling and the urge to roam, which are reduced following surgery. And despite what some believe, pets show no signs of “missing” mating or breeding.
If only female pets can get pregnant, why should I fix my male? “It takes two to tango,” as they say, so males are every bit as much a part of the problem as females. Plus, male pets are more likely to run away in search of a mate, which puts them at a much higher risk of disease and injury.
Will my male pet feel emasculated? This is a human feeling, not one that your dog or cat experiences. They may, however, be less likely to exhibit sexual-related behaviors such as marking, howling, and roaming.
Do I need to wait for my pet to go into her first heat? There is no medical research that proves it’s healthier to wait until your dog or cat has gone into heat. In fact, spaying before their first heat greatly reduces the risk of mammary cancers and reproductive-related diseases. And, if done properly, spaying and neutering at any age can eliminate or reduce the development of reproductive organ tumors.
How old is too old to spay or neuter my pet? Dogs and cats can be fixed at any time during their life span. Your veterinarian can address any concerns there might be about performing the procedure on an older pet.
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Photos courtesy of Clevergrrl and KHS.