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According to the Humane Society of the United States, between 6 and 8 million animals end up in shelters every year. Of that number, only half find homes. Since this summer, the Springfield Animal Advocacy Foundation, or SAAF, has been providing low-cost spay and neuter to combat that problem. As of this month the clinic has already conducted close to 1,500 surgeries. Now SAAF is beginning to partner with other animal groups to expand on its mission. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann files this report.
The SAAF clinic, which has been in operation for just over six months, is now beginning to extend into neighboring communities. A partnership between SAAF and the Humane Society of the Branson Tri-Lakes area is now underway. Janet Martin is a spokesperson for SAAF and says the details are still being worked out, but that the plan will include transporting animals from the shelter in Branson to the clinic in Springfield for surgery.
Linda Randolph works for the animal control division of the Taney County Health Department. She says that the unwanted animal population is a huge problem in the Branson area. Randolph says the seasonal employment nature of Branson may be one reason for the high number of unwanted animals they see in their shelter.
“Well we do have a lot of animals that are abandoned, especially during the fall and winter, when the service workers are laid-off from their jobs. And then we get calls from the lodging facilities where they have stayed when they have left, and left their pets there,” said Randolph.
Randolph says that approximately half of the animals that end up in their facility are adopted. She adds that many are also transported by various rescue groups throughout the country, even as far away as New York and Wisconsin. However, those animals that do not find homes are euthanized.
“We had about 1300 animals that came into our facility in 2010, and of those I would say about 90 percent were dogs. The cat population, the animals that we pick up in Branson and Forsyth, we have the feral cats spayed or neutered and released,” Randolph said.
Shelters are not the only places adversely affected by the large homeless animal population. Many local residents have taken on the responsibility themselves, and at their own expense. Jeannette Hyams is from the Branson area and has dealt with this growing problem. She says that she already spayed or neutered as many as 15 homeless cats and found homes for countless others. Hyams says she’s thrilled to learn of the partnership and is convinced that this is a much needed resource in the community.
“My husband and I have an office that backs up to the woods. And from the very beginning, about three years ago, we constantly had feral cats that would come to our back door for food. And I bought a cage. I have a hard cage. And I began to trap them and have them spayed or neutered, because the overpopulation is overwhelming,” said Hyams.
The cost for spaying or neutering feral cats at the SAAF clinic is a flat fee of $20, regardless of income. Additionally, these cats will receive vaccinations and have their ears clipped to mark them. SAAF has cat traps available for a refundable deposit. For all other animals, SAAF provides spay and neuter services for low income residents on a sliding scale. You can find a link to more information below.For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.
Click here to learn more about SAAF