Humane Society offering new program to aid pet control

Steamboat Springs veterinarians will perform low-cost surgeries

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— The Routt County Humane Society is hoping more people will take advantage of a program that helps with the cost of having their pets spayed or neutered.

The Humane Society used to bring a veterinarian from Denver to town a few times a year for two-day, reduced cost spay and neutering. But not everyone who needed the service could fit the clinics into their schedules, and owners who experienced post operation problems with their pets didn't always know whom to call.

In response, Humane Society President Josie Dean asked local veterinarians how to make reduced cost spaying and neutering available locally. Dr. Paige Lorimer from the Mountain Pet Care Clinic stepped forward and offered her assistance.

Lorimer and Dean developed a program where any household that makes less than $30,000 a year could qualify for assistance with spaying and neutering.

All three veterinarians in town agreed to participate in the program, which began last January. Steamboat Veterinary Hospital and the Pet Kare Clinic agreed to do 75 surgeries in 2002 and Mount Werner Veterinary Hospital agreed to 50 surgeries.

"We didn't reach anywhere near those numbers," Dean said.

For those who qualify, a dog spay will cost $55 and a dog neuter will cost $50. Cats cost $40 per animal. Shots are also provided at the time of the surgery for $10 per shot.

The visit also includes a physical, which is free.

The Humane Society does not compensate the veterinarians for the rest of the surgery cost.

"They do it as a donation," Dean said, "Truly, they are doing it as a service to the community."

The Humane Society did not advertise the program heavily in its first year. "I think it was because we didn't know how it would go the first year, and we didn't want to overwhelm the vets," Dean said.

Dean hopes to change that this year and create greater awareness of the program.

She said the program is an excellent way to encourage people who wouldn't normally spay or neuter their animals because of the expense.

"We also want to prevent people from castrating animals themselves," Dean said. "It happens."

Interviews for the program are done over the phone. For applicants who qualify, the Humane Society mails them a copy of the application, which they take to their appointments.

According to the American Veterinary Association's most recent survey last year, 6,900 families in Routt County have pets. More than 1,000 pets would up at the Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter in 2001.

"There is a horrible pet overpopulation problem in Routt County," Dean said. "The Humane Society estimated the number in 2001 and it was staggering."

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