September’s featured Community Closet Thrift Store donation jar and grant recipient is the Spay Neuter Project (SNP). This volunteer-run effort began as a way to address an abundance of unwanted dog and cat litters in our region, especially cats who are less likely to be altered. One female cat could have more than 100 kittens during her productive life and a single pair of cats and their kittens can produce as many as 420,000 kittens in just 7 years; so, prevention is key to manageable populations.
Since the Park County spay neuter efforts started in 2003, they’ve altered more than 6,000 animals preventing tens of thousands of unwanted, unhealthy and suffering animals. "Sometimes you measure progress by what you don't see," says volunteer Mary Beebe, referring to the dramatically reduced numbers of stray and homeless animals in the Livingston and Park County over the past decade. While unwanted dog litters are significantly down, sadly there continues to be a large number of unaltered cats and even a recent surge in kitten litters. There is still much work to be done.
Over the years, the SNP group has developed a range of innovative approaches; including the volunteer-run donation-based community spay/neuter clinics, discount vouchers pet owners can use for spay/neuter surgeries at local veterinary hospitals, and most recently, the Spay Shuttle. The Spay Shuttle was launched when the group’s Absarokee-based Veterinarian, Diana Scollard, had knee surgery several years ago and couldn’t drive but could still perform surgeries. SNP drove several groups of cats and small dogs to her for alteration. Soon, this shuttle became a regular feature as an effective way to have more animals altered between clinics. It prevents the laborious work of acquiring a venue and organizing supplies and large groups of volunteers and animals as clinics require. Smaller groups of cats can be altered more often, and the shuttle and operations can be completed in less than one business day. Plus: Spay Shuttle is fun to say and easy to remember!
“We appreciate that the group has been resilient and responded to changing community needs by having a van and a model that is both innovative and cost-effective,” says Community Closet Founder and CEO, Caron Cooper. The Community Closet has been a long-time supporter of SNP’s programs, helping offset medical and program costs. Other funding comes from the City of Livingston’s unaltered pet license fee, annual funding from Park County, voucher fees, and contributions from people whose pets are altered. SNP continues to alter Stafford Animal Shelter animals as needed but is no longer administrated from the Shelter. Grants from groups like Community Closet and other fundraising efforts, like SNP’s lemonade stand, are necessary to make up the funding gap. Volunteers to help with programs, and fundraising in particular, are needed.
Support SNP by contributing to the donation jar at Community Closet during September, and shopping at the Community Closet’s three stores which funds the grant program. The Spay Shuttle primarily takes care of cats and most SNP dog alterations are through vouchers and clinics. The next local clinic is Sunday, October 8. It costs SNP $40 per cat alteration, $60 for dogs, plus $5 per vaccination at the time of surgery or $10 for vaccination of already altered pets. Phone 222-2134 to register, volunteer or learn more.
The Community Closet Board of Directors distributes profits to charitable activities in Park County four times annually and the next two grant application deadlines are September 30, and November 24. Apply online at https://www.communitycloset.org/funding