Planned Pethood is offering free spaying and neutering services for cats in the 43605 zip code area, which encompasses East Toledo.
The non-profit animal rescue group received a grant from PetSmart Charities to pay for the services.
Humane Ohio has also been offering free spay and neutering services in the 43605 zip code area, as well as in the 43609 and 43615 zip code areas for owned and “free roaming” (feral or stray) cats.
Nikki Morey, executive director for Planned Pethood, said the 43605 zip code was chosen as its target area for the services because that is where the Toledo Area Humane Society receives the most calls about stray cats and unwanted litters.
The group received a similar grant from PetSmart two years ago to spay and neuter cats in the 43609 zip code because of the high number of cats in that area, said Morey.
“Through a concerted and concentrated effort in the 09 zip code, that area now has the lowest numbers,” she said. “We found out that the next zip code with the highest number of cats was in 43605. It is also, in square miles, one of the largest and most densely populated zip codes in the city. So that’s our next area of focus.”
“If calling, you will speak to a volunteer, and based on that conversation, an electronic voucher will be sent to a participating veterinarian. You have to show your ID at the vet’s to redeem the voucher,” she said.
The animals are returned to the owner or caregiver after surgery. If the owner needs help finding homes for the animals, Planned Pethood will help them get adopted.
Planned Pethood also has limited funding for those with litters of puppies or kittens that need to be spay/neutered as well as adult dogs and cats. The program, Litter Patrol, allows those in the community to no longer have to find homes for litters of puppies or kittens.
The group, formed in 1979, has also written a grant to spay and neuter dogs in the 43605 zip code because statistics compiled by the Lucas County Dog warden show that the highest number of stray and owner surrendered dogs in Toledo is from that area.
Four million cats and dogs—about one every eight seconds—are put down in U.S. shelters each year. Often these animals are the offspring of family pets, even purebreds, according to Morey.
“Maybe someone's cat or dog got out just that one time or maybe the litter was intentional, but efforts to find enough good homes failed. Spay/neuter is the only permanent, 100-percent effective method of birth control for dogs and cats and a proven way to reduce the vast numbers of animals who are born only to die prematurely and without a family who loves them,” said Morey.
Planned Pethood works with fifteen Northwest Ohio area veterinarians to provide the affordable spay/neuter services.
Ordinarily, Planned Pethood offers free spay/neuters for low-income pet owners and subsidies for local hardship cases when funds are available.
The mission statement of the group is “to reduce the overpopulation and suffering of dogs and cats through education and low-cost spay/neuter programs and to rescue, vet and place adoptable dogs and cats into good permanent homes.”
The group relies on foster volunteers to keep unwanted cats and dogs in their homes until they are adopted.
“All of the animals up for adoption stay in foster homes. That way, any donations that come to us go to our vet bills rather than the cost of having a shelter or physical building. That’s why it’s of vital importance that people recognize the work we’re doing proactively for the pet adoption program. The grant we have is a portion of our total budget,” said Morey.
Humane Ohio, a non-profit organization that operates a low cost spay/neuter clinic and pet food bank in Toledo, is just completing its first year of free spay and neutering services for owned and free roaming cats in the zip code areas of 43605, 43609 (South Toledo) and 43615 (Central Avenue Strip area in Toledo), also funded by a grant from PetSmart Charities. It will continue offering the service into next year, according to Jill Borkowski, marketing director.
“The grant will allow us to fix almost 3,000 cats – over a two year period,” said Borkowski. “It’s about 1,500 per year. The second year kicks off in November.”
Appointments are required, though the facility accepts walk-ins for feral cat caregivers, said Borkowski. “We understand that feral cats usually have to be trapped, and the caregivers may not get another opportunity to catch them again,” she said.
Spay/neuter surgeries are performed Monday through Friday at the facility at 3131 Tremainsville Road, Toledo. Cats need to be dropped off at 7:30 am on the day of their appointment. Walk-in appointments for free-roaming cats are available on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday if space is available in the spay/neuter schedule that day. Walk-ins should be dropped off at 8:30 a.m.
Other services offered by the group include a pet food bank, which makes pet food available to free-roaming cat caretakers and pet owners who are financially strapped. The facility also sells winter cat shelters for $35.