43 pets served during free spay/neuter day
by Sarah Fay Campbell
Last week, 43 animals were spayed or neutered — for free — at Newnan's HELP Spay/Neuter Clinic as part of Fix Georgia Pets Day. The surgeries, for low-income pet owners, were sponsored by Fix Georgia Pets.
"It is so awesome," said Gloria Yarbrough, who had four kittens fixed. "It's really a blessing from the Lord to get this done, because it's so expensive [to have pets spayed or neutered at a vet's office].” She took in a stray cat who then had kittens. She was able to get the mother cat fixed but couldn't afford four more surgeries.
"I really appreciate it," said Yarbrough's son, Joseph Barge, who helped her get the newly-fixed black kitties home. "It means a lot to her."
Jima Hosmer had six cats fixed. She’d gotten a cat, which quickly got pregnant, and things snowballed. She didn't want her cats to keep having kittens, but without the grant program, "there is no possible way I could afford to do this," she said. "This is a great thing for me," she said. "I'm doing my part not to repopulate this part of the county."
Most of the pet owners who participated in Fix Georgia Pets Day had previously applied for low-income assistance, said Cindy Leopard, clinic manager.
There's a great need for assistance for low-income pet owners.
As of Sept. 19, there were 18 pets on the waiting list, Leopard said.
Volunteers helped with the marathon surgery day, and Leopard made lunch for everybody "so we could keep working through lunch."
Elora Young had a job when she adopted her dog, Waya, but got laid off. When Waya was old enough to get spayed, "I thought, 'What am I going to do?'" Young said.
She had applied for assistance with HELP, and when she got the phone call telling her she could get the surgery for free, "I was like, did I hear that right?" she said. "This program is awesome."
Joshua and Christina Watkins have been caring for three stray kittens that were born outside their home. They have five pets of their own, and couldn't afford to care for more animals, but they didn't want to see those kittens end up having more babies.
Christina did some research online and discovered the HELP Clinic. She called, and a week later got a call about Fix Georgia Pets.
"It's a blessing just to have somewhere that does this for free or affordable," said Joshua.
"We are just trying to cut down on the population in the neighborhood," Christina said. "This helps us do that."
Fix Georgia Pets, founded in early 2012, is a statewide organization working to end pet overpopulation in Georgia by making grants to clinics, voucher organizations, mobile units and veterinarians in order to help make spay and neuter surgeries affordable in high pet overpopulation areas.
"I'm honored this clinic was chosen to participate," said Leopard.
Though Fix Georgia Pets Day was just one day, the free spay-neuter surgeries at the HELP Clinic will continue.
Local organization Pedal for Pets will be sponsoring a similar event every month, and it won't be limited to Coweta residents. That group has been raising funds through long-distance bicycle rides.
"We think that is a great model, and a great way for us, at this beginning state of our charity to do the most good and make the most impact," said Wendy Maguire of Pedal for Pets.
"We are working on the numbers now, and hoping that, with our Foodies for Fido event March 27 and the three-day ride June 5 to 7, we will be able to do this all year, every year," Maguire said.
The next free spay/neuter day at the HELP Clinic in Newnan will be Oct. 16. Pet owners have to pre-qualify by filling out an application, either in person at the clinic (located at 12 The Crescent, just off U.S. 29 North in the Avery Park subdivision business park), online at www.HelpSpayNueter.org or by mail.
Those on food stamps, Medicaid or disability qualify, as do those who live below the poverty line.
The HELP Clinic is open to all but specifically serves Coweta, Fayette, Meriwether, Heard, Pike, Spalding, Upson, and Clayton counties. A transport service, the "Snip Ship," transports pets from Spalding, Pike and Upson counties. They can also do a transport for any group that has at least 20 animals to fix, Leopard said.
The HELP Clinic offers several special spay/neuter programs, including a very low cost program for feral cats, as well as standard low-cost spay and neuter surgeries.
There are also regular vaccine clinics, with vaccines just $10 per shot. Upcoming clinics will be held on Sept. 28, Oct. 26, Nov. 23 and Dec. 21.
For more information, visit www. HelpSpayNeuter.org, call 770-304-7911, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.