xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Davidsonville spay, neuter service hopes to tap state funding to aid low- income pet owners

The Anne Arundel Animal Control facility in Millersville and the Spay Spa & Neuter Nook clinic in Davidsonville are being considered for a grant-funded partnership to spay and neuter pets in low-income areas of the county.

"It is the first time we will be working with a government agency to help reduce shelter overpopulation," said Kathy Evans, president of Spay Spa & Neuter Nook.

Advertisement

The proposed project, Fix Anne Arundel, would be a pilot for the nonprofit Davidsonville clinic, Evans said.

Low-income pet owners often have difficulty paying for spaying or neutering pets, according to findings in a 2012 report of the Task Force on the Establishment of a Statewide Spay/Neuter Fund, published by the Maryland Department of Legislative Services.

Advertisement

According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Maryland is one of the lowest-ranking states in animal protection laws, 44th in 2013. Amy Hanigan, an attorney and animal rights advocate, said Maryland is not necessarily getting worse, but "other states are improving and Maryland is failing to catch up, just treading water."

About half of the cats and a third of the dogs in Maryland's shelter populations are euthanized for reasons other than the owner's request, the task force reported.

The Anne Arundel Animal Control facility has euthanized about 30 percent of incoming pets during the past four years because of a lack of space, according to county records. Thus far this year, the Arundel facility has euthanized 29.3 percent, down from 35.5 percent in 2011. Those percentages include animals that are turned into the facility for possible adoption.

Fix Anne Arundel would use county vehicles to transport pets to be spayed or neutered to the Davidsonville clinic from low-income areas of Pasadena, Glen Burnie, Brooklyn Park and Severn — areas that have seen high numbers of pets surrendered to Animal Control.

"For this pilot project, we concentrated on the four areas, and plan to hit one area per week so we can service each area once per month," Evans said.

The Nook is the only spay/neuter clinic in Maryland to train its staff at the Humane Alliance in Asheville, N.C., a nationally recognized nonprofit that focuses on high-volume, high-quality and low-cost sterilizations. That training provided the Nook medical staff and veterinarians with information on efficient and safe protocols. This year — the Nook's second full year of operation — the clinic expects to sterilize more than 5,000 pets and feral animals, according to Evans' husband and co-founder, Bob Rude.

"We sent the staff to train for a week, and they [the Humane Alliance] sent a vet and a tech [to] us to make suggestions and evaluate our operation," Rude said.

The partnership with the Millersville shelter would be funded by a $30,000 grant request currently being evaluated by the state's Spay and Neuter Advisory Board, composed of veterinarians and other professionals providing advice on how the state Department of Agriculture should evaluate competitive grants.

The advisory board is considering Fix Anne Arundel among about 50 spay/neuter grant proposals, totaling nearly $2 million, from clinics and shelters around the state. A tax on registered dog and cat foods has generated more than $600,000, about $300,000 of which can be used for spay and neutering programs, according to the board coordinator, Jane Mallory. The board is dividing that amount into final recommendations for approval by Agriculture Secretary Earl F. Hance this month, Mallory said.

The Nook already has a reputation among animal advocates. Kelly Gates, special programs and projects coordinator for the Washington County Humane Society in Hagerstown, said transporting dogs and cats 97 miles to the Davidsonville facility is well worth the effort.

"We can bring 30 to 40 animals a week. They are an excellent-quality facility, and the low rate makes the trip an added benefit," Gates said on a recent day as she loaded pet carriers with "fixed" animals into a truck to take back to Hagerstown.

Earlier that day, a panel truck full of cats in pet carriers arrived for sterilizations from three veterinarian clinics in Somerset County, 116 miles away on the Eastern Shore.

Advertisement

The Spay and Neuter Program grew out of the passage of 2013 legislation to fund low-cost sterilization of cats and dogs. The bills were sponsored by Del. Barbara A. Frush of Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties and Prince George's Sen. Joanne C. Benson, both Democrats.

"We want to get down to no-kill shelters," Frush said. "First and foremost, I am a huge animal rights advocate. I introduced this legislation, with the help of the speaker of the House and the chairman of the Environmental Matters Committee, because I was appalled at the number of animals that roamed freely throughout the state, that breed or starve and were subject to abuse, rabies and many other problems."

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement