North Carolina Cats Benefit from Targeted Spay/Neuter Grant, Hard Work

Rural shelter exceeds goal in just 14 months

grey kittenYancey County Humane Society (YHS), in rural Burnsville, North Carolina, is a small shelter run by a dedicated, passionate team. It’s open admission, meaning no pet from within its service area is turned away.

PetSmart Charities® grant sets the stage for new strategy

As the end of 2010 approached, YHS was enjoying increasing adoption rates. But when the shelter team looked at the high number of cats and kittens who arrived at the shelter — known as “intake” — they sought help from PetSmart Charities.

PetSmart Charities awarded YHS a 2-year targeted spay/neuter grant for just over $25,000. Their goal was to spay or neuter 526 owned cats in 1 target ZIP code that was a main source of their cat intake.

Program gets up and running quickly

Following the Humane Alliance model, YHS set up a spay/neuter operation that uses highly efficient surgical techniques, enabling the staff to perform a large number of surgeries safely. With the help of the PetSmart Charities grant, YHS could offer the surgeries free of charge to residents of their target ZIP code.

The shelter team promoted the spay/neuter program at community events and by seeking signups at local businesses. The coverage they received in their local newspaper and on the radio station helped get the word out, too.

YHS exceeded its goal, altering 528 cats. Even better, they did it in just 14 months.

YHS reaps the benefits in just one year

Some shelters have to wait 3 or more years for their spay/neuter projects to affect their intake numbers, but not YHS. They saw results within the first year.

blue-eyed catThe shelter’s 2012 intake in the target ZIP code was 406 cats and kittens, down from 536 in 2011. That’s a 25% decrease. Overall, euthanasia was down 30%.

Showcasing success, and even more benefits

One area resident used the YHS program to alter all the cats in her neighborhood. She lives in a rural area where people often dump cats; her family takes in many of the pets themselves.

YHS executive director Tim Tipton explained that the family has “spent countless hours catching and transporting the cats” to YHS for spay/neuter surgery. Without our program, they “would be unable to afford to have the cats fixed,” said Tipton.

Another benefit is that many residents who take advantage of the program’s spay/neuter services are also paying to have their cats and kittens vaccinated. They’re able to afford the shots because they’re saving money on the surgery.

A model for rural county spay/neuter programs

Tipton recognizes how significant his organization’s impact is on the lives of cats in his community. In fact, he is happy to share the secrets of YHS success — even if “keep at it” is his greatest pearl of wisdom.

Talking to the Yancey County News earlier this year, Tipton explained, “Several organizations have contacted me wanting to know how they can duplicate the success we have had here in Yancey County. I always try to give them as much information as I can. But in the end if they remember just one thing, I tell them I hope it is this: If you stay persistent and never give up (even when some people tell you it won’t work, it can’t be done or even try to tear you down), you really can make a difference in your community.”

The Cat Spay/Neuter Program is an excellent model for rural communities. Through the PetSmart Charities grant, Tipton is sure the program has helped to boost the overall health of the cat community in Yancey County.


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