ALACHUA COUNTY, FL - Alachua County Animal Services (ACAS) has been awarded a $10,000 grant from PetSmart Charities to begin a pilot program offering spay/neuter service to low-income owners of pit bull breed dogs. The award is 100% of ACAS's request, made last November as part of the PetSmart Charities Fast Track Grant application process.
By the end of the pilot program, Animal Services Director David Flagler estimates that the grant will have funded more than 200 surgeries on pit bulls from low income households in Alachua County. According to Flagler, this grant will allow the division to begin addressing one of the population issues at the shelter and target a major problem breed within our community.
"The pit bull breed is the most common breed that finds its way into the animal shelter," Flagler explained. "By reducing the reproductive potential of this breed through spay/neuter efforts, we will make great headway into solving the pet overpopulation problem in our community."
With the funds, the shelter's veterinary staff will offer 100% subsidized spay/neuter services to owners of pit bull and pit bull mix breeds who qualify under the County's "low income" status. Those pit bull owners who qualify will be able to bring their dog to the shelter to undergo the surgery free of charge.
Additionally, any animals that qualify for the surgery that are not up-to-date on rabies vaccines or county dog licenses will be updated for free. The up-to-date rabies vaccine and license will be required in order to perform the surgeries, the cost of which was written into the funding request and approved by PetSmart Charities.
"We consider Alachua County Animal Services to be an important partner in our mutual efforts to end euthanasia and provide all pets with a lifelong, loving home,' explained Barbara Fought, Manager of Emergency Grants for PetSmart Charities, in a letter to ACAS dated March 17, 2008.
PetSmart Charities, Inc., is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that creates and supports programs that save the lives of homeless pets, raise awareness of companion animal welfare issues, and promote healthy relationships between people and pets. Since 1994, PetSmart Charities has funded more than $70 million in grants and programs benefiting the animal welfare organizations and, through its in-store pet adoption program, has helped save the lives of more than 3.2 million pets. To learn more about how PetSmart Charities is working to help find a lifelong, loving home for every pet, visit www.petsmartcharities.org or call 1-800-423-PETS.
The low-income spay/neuter program funded by the grant is scheduled to begin next month and will continue for one year or until the funding has been exhausted. Over the next several weeks, ACAS will begin marketing the program to the target population, including flyers and "town hall" meetings at some of the subsidized housing projects throughout the county. Any property managers or homeowners associations interested in arranging for a meeting to discuss this important issue should contact Jim Jarrell, ACAS Public Education Program Coordinator, at 352-264-6870.
For more information or if you have questions about eligibility, please contact the shelter at 352-264-6870.