CHARLOTTE, N.C. - North Charlotte resident Byron Greer's parents never spayed or neutered the family dog. But he and his wife decided it would be different for seven month old Colbie. He brought the cocker spaniel to the Humane Society of Charlotte.
Taking advantage of the shelter's low cost spay/neuter program, he paid $60 for the one day visit. Greer says, "When I came and got Colbie, he was like the same dog, but seemed like he was even happier, so I know they took care of him."
Experts estimate that every year, there are about 20,000 homeless pets in Charlotte's public shelters. In 2010, more than 63% of those cats and dogs were euthanized.
"The only way to reduce the number of animals that come into animal shelters is through spaying and neutering. You can't adopt your way out of this," says Shelly Moore. She is the woman rebooting Charlotte's spay-neuter initiative. She took over the Humane Society of Charlotte about a year and a half ago and set high goals of high volume, high quality, low cost spay and neuters.
Their newly remodeled clinic can now accommodate more patients. They've eliminated the waiting list and surgery can be scheduled within 24 hours. Last year, they performed just over 9,700 low-cost spay neuter surgeries. This year, they'll hit about 11,000, but ultimately, "For a city this size, we should be looking about being able to provide about 32,000 low cost spay and neuter surgeries here in the community to really start to have an impact on reducing the number of animals that come into shelters," says Moore.
Char-Meck Animal Care and Control is an important piece of the puzzle. It offers free spay neuter services to qualified pet owners. Division Director Mark Balestra says pet overpopulation impacts everyone because taxpayers bear the burden of taking care of unwanted animals. He says, "Each call for service costs our tax payers $112 per call."
Animal control gets approximately 45,000 calls for service a year. That means taxpayers pay more than $5 million for homeless pets.
Balestra and others agree the South has been slow to catch on to the spay neuter concept but that Charlotte is on the cusp. He says, "What we're trying to do is transition our facilities to be the adoption locations within the area and wipe out the Craigslist, the Charlotte Observer, the breeders and all these type of ways of obtaining pets over getting one to save and to rescue a life."
For Greer, it was an easy decision to neuter his pet and one he'd make again. He says, "It's very important because with it being an overpopulation, there's a lot of pets without homes and I think every pet should have a home."
The Humane Society of Charlotte and Animal Control are able to offer the low cost or free spay/neuters thanks to donations and partnerships. For more information or to schedule a surgery for your pet, go to http://www.humanesocietyofcharlotte.org/spay_neuter/index.php OR