Wilkes County Animal Control in NC took in 2803 cats in 2010. It killed 2536 of them. That’s a kill rate of 90% for cats in Wilkes Co. The pound is open 10:30 – 5 on weekdays and for 90 minutes on Saturdays (unless it’s a holiday). One can’t help but wonder if more pets might be reclaimed by owners or adopted to new ones if the pound had more accessible hours for the working public. In this recent article in a local paper, Joanna Cates, the president of the Humane Society of Wilkes (a volunteer group who works with the pound) says:
“We are seeing fewer animals being euthanized now,” said Ms. Cates.
Oh god, really? So the kill rate for cats used to be higher than 90%? I guess this is one of those “improvements” that critics of needless shelter pet killing are supposed to throw a party over. I’ll wait while you guys all dance on the bar.
The article in the paper is about a spay-neuter promotion for November that the HS of Wilkes is running. I’m glad the paper ran the piece because I didn’t see any information about the promotion on the group’s website – just the standard blame-the-public fare. The details of the spay-neuter assistance program are listed in the paper as follows:
The monthly special is for cats only, and surgery must be done before Nov. 30. The $5 cost is for income under $15,000. For income between $15,000 – $35,000, the cost will be reduced to $25.
While offering assistance to pet owners who can’t afford to get their cats neutered is important, I’d like to point out that owners whose household income is $15,001 must come up with $25 this month to get their cat neutered. I’m sure to incur the wrath of why-can’t-you-be-satisfied killing apologists here but make no mistake: Coming up with $25 on extremely short notice is a financial hardship for many people who fall within the income guidelines. Depending on the number of people in the household, it may well be impossible. To be honest, in this economy, I’m not sure how many Wilkes Co cat owners will be able to take advantage of the reduced neuter fee, even if they hear about the promotion. That’s a shame, especially considering that the value of a cat’s life is immeasurable and the homeless cats of Wilkes Co are otherwise going into the dumpster.
Here are some suggestions:
- Set up your promotion for success by targeting the groups who need assistance and enabling them to take advantage of the services. A family of four living on $20,000 a year is not going to be able to come up with $25 for a cat neuter on short notice. They may well want to get their cat neutered, but this promotion does not make it possible for them to do that.
- When running a promotion such as the November spay-neuter assistance program – promote it far and wide, including on your own website – starting well before the promotion launches. This allows for more people to be made aware of the program and gives those facing economic hardship time to save up the fee, if they are able. While you’re at it, get rid of all the rhetoric blaming the public for the pound’s killing from your website. The idea is to draw people in, not drive them away.
- Seek out benefactors to cover the $25 fee for as many cats as possible. This will enable owners who want to get their cat neutered but can’t come up with the fee to get the surgery done. It’s good PR too, which never hurts a volunteer group.
- Offer pet transportation assistance to those who need it. Low income families often lack transportation to get a pet to the spay-neuter clinic.
I’m glad that some concerned citizens of Wilkes Co are offering spay-neuter fee assistance to cat owners this month. What would be even better is if it was meaningful assistance – that is, real-world help that cat owners would be able to utilize in order to get their pets neutered. With 90% of the community’s cats being needlessly killed at the pound, it’s past time to start thinking outside the box.