Shelter to launch low-cost spay program

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(This story by Jebb Johnston originally appeared in the Daily Corinthian and is here with permission.)

“This is the answer to our problems.”

Corinth-Alcorn Animal Shelter Director Charlotte Doehner believes that to be true for the new “ACSpay” program, which will provide low-cost spaying for female dogs owned by low-income families who may not be able to afford it at regular cost. The cost of $25 will include the procedure and a rabies vaccination.

The Alcorn County Board of Supervisors gave its blessing to the program on Wednesday. The pilot program launches Aug. 1 for Rienzi only.

“If everything goes good, we will let it move on through the county,” said Third District Supervisor Tim Mitchell.

He is chairman for the program.

“This was Tim’s idea,” said Doehner. “We are thrilled. We needed the support from the supervisors to do this.”

The shelter is at capacity.

“There has been a population explosion of dogs in Alcorn County this year,” said Barbara Rider, a board member of the shelter. “It’s unreal.”

Several area veterinarians have agreed to participate. Danyel Smith, administrator for the program, will begin taking applications on Aug. 1, and the spays will begin on Sept. 1.

Qualifying residents will be asked to bathe the dog the night before, not feed her after midnight, and bring her to the shelter on Proper Street on the morning of the appointment. The shelter will transport the dog to the participating clinic for the procedure. The owner will then pick up the dog between 4 and 5 p.m. at the shelter.

“It will be done in such a way that they won’t have to return to have stitches or staples removed,” said Doehner.

With a standard spay beginning at $120, she said, a lot of interest in the program is anticipated. The shelter is budgeting for about 40 per month.

Once the program gets established, Doehner said it can look at expanding to include neuters and cats.

Mitchell said he has seen a great need for such a program in his district as well as others.

“I think it’s going to be great for the community,” said Doehner. “We have seen and talked about a number of areas that have done this, and it has really solved their problem. It’s reduced the number of animals coming to the shelter, which is a cost to the taxpayer, and the number of animals being dropped off in other people’s property. This is going to have a significant impact.”

The shelter believes it is already making some progress with cats through a catch-and-release program during the last few years.

“We are picking up feral animals, bringing them to the shelter, getting them spayed or neutered, and putting them back out,” said Doehner. “They serve a purpose. We need them out there. But we don’t need them breeding.”

Rider said it made a difference in this year’s kitten population.

Several fundraisers will be held in July to help support ACSpay.

Donations to the program may be made online at alcornpets.com through the donation link. Specify the ACSpay program.

The phone number to call to apply for the program will be published at a later date.