|By Michelle Symington|
MetroWest Reminder Assistant Editor
SOUTHWICK Residents in Southwick and surrounding communities who cannot afford to spay or neuter their pet may be eligible to receive help from the Southwick Animal Control Department.
The Department was recently awarded a $5,031 grant from the Massachusetts Animal Coalition (MAC) to lower the cost of the surgery for residents who cannot afford it on their own.
The MAC, founded in 2000, is a non-profit organization that works to decrease the number of neglected, displaced, homeless and abused animals in the state.
Southwick was one of 21 communities in Massachusetts to receive a grant from the MAC, which totaled $100,000.
Ken Frazer, the Southwick animal control officer, said that the grant will help the community to "stop the population explosion it has experienced because some people do not have the responsibility to take care of animals."
If a cat roams and breeds with other cats, there can be hundreds of cats in a neighborhood, he said.
Frazer said that, many times, male dogs go out looking for females "and the next thing you know you have a dog pregnant when someone does not want it pregnant."
"They may abandon the puppies because they cannot take care of them," he added.
He added that a male dog on the loose looking for a female can cause a lot of destruction.
"The dog can become aggressive when he is not normally," he said.
According to Frazer, having an animal spayed or neutered can cost an owner over $200. He added that the cost varies between cats and dogs and between the sexes of the animal.
He also said that many veterinarians will not perform the surgery unless they have seen the animal for an exam. An animal that has not received the necessary shots could end up costing the owner more, Frazer added.
Animal owners in Southwick or surrounding communities can call Frazer for help and he will look into whether or not they are eligible.
"If they can prove to me they have a hardship, then more than likely they will get a certificate to have their dog spayed," he said.
The help from the Southwick Animal Control department does not cover the entire cost of the surgery, but it offers the pet owners a discounted price.
With the Department's certificate, it would cost the pet owner $30 to neuter a male cat and $52 to spay a female cat. The cost to neuter a male dog would be $66. To spay a female dog, it will cost the pet owner $72.
He is working with the Southwick Animal Hospital for this program.
Frazer said this is the first time the Southwick Animal Control Department, which operates the no-kill Southwick Animal Shelter, has received funding to help residents to pay for the surgery. The shelter serves Southwick, Granville and Westfield.
Frazer said that it makes him "feel good" that the MAC gave the grant to the shelter.
"We are thrilled and honored that our organization was selected to receive monies we desperately need to provide low-cost spay and neuter services to dogs and cats," he said.
Anne Lindsay, founder and president of the MAC explained that the grant was made possible by the "I'm Animal Friendly" license plate sales. The funds raised from the sales are given to cities and towns annually to help their residents spay and neuter pets.
"We worked closely with the state legislature, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles and numerous animal organizations to launch the 'I'm Animal Friendly' license plate program," she said. "To date, more that 3,800 of our license plates have been sold and the number keeps growing."
Local communities that would like to apply for the grant can do so by visiting www.massanimalcoalition.org. The 2006 funding cycle applications will be available in February. Non-profit organizations and municipalities can apply.
Anyone interested in helping to support the program can purchase a license plate by visiting www.mass.gov/rmv/express/ mac.htm.