Thursday, April 3, 2008
County spay/neuter clinic closing
By SUE WATSON
Marshall County’s spay/neuter clinic closed last week after the cost of renovating the existing space to meet standards became prohibitive for the Humane Society.
The clinic has been held for the last four years in the old Colonial Building owned by Marshall County.
George Khars, Sherry Janssen, Carmen Marlin and Melissa Chipman, society president, thanked the board of supervisors for use of the facility and support it has given for animal welfare.
But in doing so, Chipman said the burden of control of animal populations and stray animals is not the problem of the board of supervisors or the Marshall County Humane Society.
“This is a people problem,” she said. “It comes down to people being irresponsible with their pets, letting them multiply. We can’t do all this on our own.”
She said the society is lucky to have an operating budget of $20,000 a year and is run by a group of 30 volunteers and on donations and fund raisers.
“I’ve been very disappointed in the people of Marshall County,” she said. “It’s everyone’s problem and everyone expects the Humane Society to fix it. The people truly don’t understand what we need. It’s overwhelming. It’s taken 10 years to get as far as we have.”
The Humane Society’s main thrust in the county has been to reduce stray animal populations of dogs and cats by offering reduced prices for spay/neutering of animals to those who cannot afford it. The society also operates an animal shelter and animal adoption program. Members had kept homeless pets in their homes awaiting adoption and some still do. A new facility north of the city of Holly Springs was built with a private donation but funds to operate the shelter and adoption program are meager.
There has been insufficient money to finish out the inside portion of the building that is used for storage of pet food and supplies. Finishing the interior, non-kennel space is going slowly due to lack of funds, building supplies and labor, according to the society members.
The money taken in from obligatory spay/neutering, shots, and medicines at the shelter to get animals ready for adoption is a break-even deal with the society charging only $75 to prepare a 45-pound dog for adoption, Janssen said. The society does not release fertile animals for adoption.
“The spay/neuter program is the top priority of our program and always has been,” she said. “If we don’t spay/neuter all they do is multiply. And we see more road pizza on the road.”
Khars said the society had been receiving broken bags of pet food until suppliers packaged food in bags that don’t break. Now the food has to be purchased. And costs for everything are escalating.
Supervisors grappled with ideas of a new home for the spay/neuter clinic.
Willie Flemon asked if a portable building would do.
Marlin said it takes about 1,000 square feet for the clinic proper.
The building has to be supplied with water, a laundry room and autoclaves to sterilize surgical instruments. The space has to be cool to keep down excessive bleeding during surgery.
The spay/neuter program performed 550 operations in 2002 and the last reporting year conducted 897 surgeries, Marlin said. The clinic has charged $5 to $15 less - prices better than afforded by other counties - when Dr. Isis Johnson operates, she said.
The Humane Society hopes to do limited spay/neuter clinics this year with a target of 96 surgeries, she said.
Khars offered appreciation to the board of supervisors for its efforts to provide clinic space, the work to get ordinances in place to mitigate animal abuse and neglect, and the construction of a holding area for dangerous/vicious animals.
“We are not here to give you a hard time - just to go over some things,” he said in opening remarks. “We feel you guys are doing a very good job running the county. We have a good quality of life and a safe place to live. We are very fortunate you have let us use the old Colonial Building for a neuter clinic.
“We intend to go back to the community and ask for help. We have to keep unwanted animal populations down to a minimum. We hope you will continue to support us.”
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