Organizers say changes to a program designed to help financially strapped pet owners pay for spaying and neutering services are designed to get more owners involved.
In a presentation to the county’s board of commissioners during its annual retreat, Surry County Animal Shelter officials blamed the lack of spaying and neutering in the county on the burgeoning unwanted pet population in the area.
“The lack of spaying and neutering is still an issue in Surry County and we still have a problem with (unwanted pet) overpopulation,” said Samantha Ange, director of the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center Director, which oversees shelter operations.
But one group is trying to educate the public about the benefits of spaying and neutering their pets.
“We wanted to try something new,” said Jane Taylor of Mayberry4Paws, the organization spearheading the effort.
Taylor said Mayberry4Paws has been involved in a voucher program, where pet owners could get discounted surgeries for their pets, for about four years.
“It’s been extremely successful,” she said. “We’ve been averaging spaying and neutering about 400 pets a year.”
But Taylor said the trend is moving toward a more efficient system that doesn’t require paper vouchers.
“We’ve been doing some research and conferencing with other groups, and it seems the trend is moving away from the voucher system,” she said. “Over time, there is going to be a point of diminishing returns, and we’re starting to see lots and lots of repeat customers and fewer and fewer new customers.”
Under the new program, pet owners will simply have to call Surry Spay and Neuter Clinic at 336-374-2262, answer a few questions and make an appointment.
“The financial assistance will be given to them on the day of the surgery,” Taylor said. “It will be waiting there at the clinic.”
While Taylor said there is some money available at present, Mayberry4Paws is actively seeking additional grant funding.
“If we make these changes, we’re hopeful that there will be some additional grant funding available,” she said. “At this point, there is only one grant that is still based on the voucher program and that’s going away at the end of the year, so we’re trying to find new ways to help pet owners.”
Which is the ultimate goal, Taylor added.
“We hope we’re going to be able to serve more people and more pets while providing assistance for additional medical needs on down the road,” she said. “We’re always seeking funding, and some of the money we already have received will be used to move to the new system.”
Taylor said there is no concrete timeline on how long the program will run.
“We don’t foresee it running forever, but we’re going to see how it goes, how the money comes in and modify it if necessary,” she said.
Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.