The new program, called Spay and Neuter Impact Program, began in January as a way to reduce the number of animals coming into the shelter.
“We came up with the idea for a free spay and neuter program for pet owners who need financial assistance,” said shelter director Susan Feingold. “We don’t require proof of income but we do have an application request form and recipients must check off a reason why they can’t afford the procedure.”
The request form includes reasons such as too many bills, unemployed or medical problems.
Feingold said most applications are accepted and participants are encouraged to pay whatever amount they can towards the procedure due to limited funding.
After the application is filled out, county residents can mail in or bring their forms directly to the shelter where, once approved, a voucher is mailed for the spay or neuter surgery at a LifeLine Clinic, at 129 Lake St. in Avondale Estates or 2533 Sullivan Road in College Park.
“A low-cost spay or neuter surgery for a pet normally costs from $45 to $95 depending on the animal’s weight, so low-income families are saving money and the program includes a round of vaccinations for their pets, too,” Feingold said.
Since being awarded the management contract for the county’s animal service shelter last July, LifeLine Animal Project, a nonprofit organization based in Atlanta, has worked to reduce the high euthanasia rates for homeless pets through programs like this.
“Spaying and neutering is critical in reducing the number of homeless and unwanted pets entering the shelter,” Feingold said. “We see a staggering number of unwanted pets in DeKalb County and the main reason is because people are not fixing their pets, so by eliminating financial barriers, we hope to see a drastic reduction in the number of dogs and cats entering our shelter.”
Feingold also said it is important for pet owners to understand the benefits of spaying and neutering a beloved pet.
“So many pet owners tell me their pet has had at least one litter, sometimes because they couldn’t afford to fix it and other times because they want to make money selling puppies, but doing that is creating more problems and killing more animals in shelters,” she said. “People should adopt instead and fix their animals and with the SNIP program, there is now no excuse.”
To download an application for the program or to make a donation, visit www.dekalbanimalservices.com.