A box of kittens turned into Kingston Humane Society – a common occurence according to HunterOwen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Aug 08, 2022 at 21:26

By Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Kingston Humane Society will accept it’s first round of applications on August 9 for a newly announced low cost spay and neuter clinic.

Applications for available spots will be open Tuesday from 10 am to 1 pm, with the low cost clinic set to take place on the last Thursday of every month, landing on August 25 this month.

To start, this low cost clinic will only be offered for spay/neuter procedures on cats, as Kingston and its Humane Society are vastly overpopulated with cats.

KHS Executive Director Gord Hunter says eventually that eligibility will widen to include other animals, but at this time the overwhelming number of cats remains the biggest problem.

“What we need to address is the overpopulation of cats,” Hunter said

“It is far and away the biggest issue in terms of overpopulation of animals in any community to be honest with you.”

Hunter said roughly 65% of dogs brought into KHS end up reunited with an owner who has lost them, whereas only about 5% of cats brought in are claimed by an owner.

He said the number of feral cat communities in North America is “staggering” and emphasized that these cats tend to live desperate, deprived lives.

The startup costs for offering the clinic are made possible thanks to a $62,000 investment from the city, initially granted in January, and Hunter specifically thanked Councillor Lisa Osanic for her continued support of KHS’ work and pushing for the infrastructure needed.

That funding helped the shelter to buy a second operating table, surgical light, and anesthesia machine, and is also meant to cover the cost of KHS staff learning a high volume spay/neuter technique to greatly improve efficiency.

That technique is only taught in Asheville, North Carolina, and while the program is slowly reopening after two years of closure, Hunter says they’re still unable to offer training to their entire team in order to implement the techniques effectively.

“The way the high volume works is you have to have the whole team on board, you have to have the whole team trained because there’s a whole bunch of techniques that they use and efficiencies that they use to keep things rolling,” Hunter said.

“Getting our vet trained would be great but we need to get the whole team trained. So that’s why right now it’s not a high volume, low cost spay and neuter clinic.”

The new low cost spay and neuter clinic will be available to ten applicants per month at this time, with cats eligible if they are healthy, between six months to eight years in age, and/or in heat.

A news release from KHS says certain cats will not be eligible for spay/neuter including those on medication within the last two weeks, short-faced cat breeds, extremely overweight or underweight cats, and cats who are nursing.

The clinic will be offered at a cost of $125 + HST to owners, which Hunter says is likely not even be a breakeven point when costs like human resources and electricity are considered.

He says offering the procedures to ten cats realistically makes a minor difference, but it’s a starting point and he hopes the community will see the importance of the work and support it so the KHS can grow its impact.

“Ten per month, it’s a drop in the bucket and we understand that, but our goal is to increase that number and to eventually have an effect,” Hunter said.

“And right now the City of Kingston has nothing so we’re offering something and hoping that it will grow into a significant tool to decrease the cat population.”

While there are no income eligibility restrictions to access the low cost spay/neuter clinic, Hunter implored those who can afford the full cost of the procedure to do so as it will help KHS’ bottom line.

He added that 70% of the facility’s funding comes from donations, and that the shelter would also really benefit from members of the community volunteering to foster animals as there is barely any space for more at any given time.

Hunter says cat owners should also not be letting their pets simply roam free.

“If they’re unaltered they’re out there making more cats and even if they’re altered they do a lot of damage to wildlife,” Hunter said.

“Keep your cats indoors, get them spayed or neutered and if they can help support the spay and neuter clinic here at the Humane Society, that’s wonderful.”

Applications for the first clinic open Tuesday, and can be found here.

This item reprinted with permission from YGK News, Kingston, Ontario