By Lois Henry
If you care about Kern's animal overpopulation problem, life sometimes can be pretty depressing.
The county animal shelter continues to take in hundreds more animals than it can care for, resulting in the awful reality that we must kill nearly 20,000 animals every year.
Friends of the Kern County Animal Shelters Foundation will hold a fundraiser June 8 to raise money to help pay for its growing spay/neuter voucher program.
Applause for Paws will feature several Los Angeles-area comedians, dinner and art for sale by several local artists.
Cost is $30 for a single ticket and $50 for two. The event will be held at the Women's Club, 2030 18th St. Doors will open at 6 and the show begins at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased at For the Birds and More, 10425 Rosedale Highway, RedBrick Pizza, 9500 Brimhall Road, Self Serve Pet Spa, 2816 Calloway Drive, Ste. #103, and 7401 White Lane, #2.
Interested persons may also send a check to: Friends Foundation P.O. Box 11494, Bakersfield, CA 93389
Or order through PayPal from the Friends website at: http://www.friendsofkernshelters.org/index.html
Friends can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (661) 472-6191.
Critters Without Litters
Low-cost spay/neuter clinic. Open to all income levels. Appointments required. Regular fees: cats; female, $50/male $40. Dogs: female 60 pounds and under, $70, 61 pounds and over, $80; male 60 pounds and under $65, 61 pounds and over $75.
4300 STINE ROAD, SUITE 720
Julie Nunes 661-858-4339
Available for low income only, under $30,000 a year or proof of govt. assistance. Call for application or download from Marley's Mutts webpage: http://marleysmutts.com/index.php/sn-foundation-low-cost-spay-and-neutering. Cost is $20 and can be used only at Critters Without Litters. Voucher covers full cost of spay/neuter, plus rabies shots and microchip.
Friends of the Kern County Animal Shelters Foundation
Limited number available each month for $20 and $30 to offset cost of s/n for cats and dogs, respectively. Limit 2 per household per calendar year. No income requirements. Send name, mailing address and number requested to email@example.com. If the month's allotment has been reached you will be put on a waiting list. Can be used at any AngelDogs clinic, Critters Without Litters and combined with other vouchers.
PO BOX 11494, 93389
Kern Humane Society
Worth $10 to $15 to help with s/n cost for cats, $20 for dogs. Available in person on the first Saturday of each month, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. only. Max. 2 per address. Can be used at Mountain Communities SPCA, any AngelDogs clinic, Critters Without Litters, or local vet. Call for info in outlying areas. Can be combined with other organizations' vouchers.
2111 BRUNDAGE LANE
Shop Hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
KC Animal Control
Voucher program for low-income (proof required) Kern residents. Cost $20 each, covers entire cost of spay/neuter. Specified vets and clinics only. Max. 4 per household. Limited number available each month. Can be purchased in person one Saturday per month throughout the county, usually at vaccination/licensing clinics. Call Amber for more info at 868-7122, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* For dogs: Accuracy of dog's weight is essential when purchasing voucher.
201 SO. MT. VERNON AVE.
Serenity Cat Hospital
3000 Taft Highway
Spays,$50, neuters$40. Appointments preferred but not required and feral cats are welcome. Cats can be spayed/neutered with Serenity as early as 8 weeks. Vouchers accepted. Cats must be in hard-sided carrier with a clean towel for recovery, ferals must be in a trap.
The Cat People
Limited spay/neuter vouchers.
602 18TH St.
But there are small glimmers of hope here and there. I like to celebrate those glimmers when I can, so here are a few that I've come across recently.
Critters Without Litters , Bakersfield's low-cost, high volume spay/neuter clinic, has received a grant from PetSmart Charities that will allow it to drop its already low prices to just $20 for puppies and kittens through the month of June.
Puppies and kittens can actually be altered at 4 months of age, something not a lot of folks know (hence the name of Critters' campaign: "Did you know?").
The grant will help fund 200 puppy/kitten alterations and Executive Director Vicky Thrasher told me the clinic still has 100 slots available. So call soon (831-6000).
"We're really hoping to get hold of those folks who maybe had an 'oops' litter and do the whole batch of puppies or kittens before they're adopted out," Thrasher said.
And, yes, she said, the clinic will honor vouchers for this program. Considering some local vouchers top $30, owners could ask that the extra be used for rabies shots or other services. Thrasher said that's up to the voucher issuer, so if you get a voucher, be sure to check on that.
Oh, and just because I like to keep tallies, Thrasher told me Critters has altered 3,500 animals since it opened last October.
Clinic owner Larry Keller has hopes for far more, but I say that's an excellent start.
I love this next tidbit.
Three local ladies with full time jobs and very full lives wanted to do something to stem the tide of death that animal overpopulation brings.
So they created S&N Foundation, a 501(c)3 charity dedicated to providing spay/neuter vouchers for low-income Kern County residents.
It started last year with a kickoff fundraiser in September, President Julie Nunes told me.
Low-income folks, those who make $30,000 or less annually and/or are on some kind of government assistance, can call to request an application (858-4339).
Cost for the voucher is $20, which covers the entire spay/neuter plus rabies vaccination and a microchip. All proceeds are rolled back into the program.
The group works exclusively with Critters in order to keep costs down.
"We've given 28 vouchers so far and over 20 have been used," Nunes said. "It's been great and everyone loves the service. The only problem is, a lot of these folks are elderly and need transportation. It's a liability for us if we transport the animal so we're looking at how to expand our services in that direction."
They may be small, but this is a determined group so I have faith they will find a way.
Also in the small-but-determined category, last month I wrote about how Cathey's K-9 Rescue was starting its "puppy surrender" program.
The program is still going strong and the rescue is still taking puppies and issuing vouchers for the full cost of spaying the mama dog, Nancy Cathey told me.
If you have pups to surrender you must make an appointment by calling Cathey at (760) 417-9627. She will adopt out the puppies at the rescue's regular Saturday and Sunday adoption days at Petco on Rosedale Highway.
Last year, Cathey's adopted out 160 puppies and spayed 42 mother dogs through the program.
So far this year, the rescue has adopted out 136 pups and spayed 32 mother dogs.
"We haven't had any problems with illness and everything's going great," Cathey told me.
I've overlooked this service in past articles.
Serenity Cat Hospital routinely offers low cost spay/neuter options for cats, $45 per neuter and $50 per spay. Though this is a for-profit organization, run by veterinarian Cherry Mattias, people can use vouchers here as well.
Mattias also works on feral cats or "the neighborhood cat" that everyone feeds but no one claims and can operate on healthy kittens as young as eight weeks or two pounds, she said. She recently changed locations from Panama Lane to Taft Highway.
And, finally, I'm very excited about the growth in the voucher program offered by Friends of the Kern County Animal Shelters Foundation.
The group had been offering vouchers for some time for about $40 per spay/neuter. The program was doing OK, but growing at a tepid pace. Frankly when an alteration can cost upwards of $100, $40 isn't enough help if a family is struggling to keep the lights on.
Enter Critters Without Litters, where cats are $40 to $50 and dogs range from $65 to a max of $80, and suddenly even a $20 or $30 voucher goes a lot farther.
In January of this year, Friends gave out 55 vouchers. Good but not great. Then it revamped its program to give $20 for cats and $30 for dogs, with a lot of information about Critters, and voucher numbers started a steady climb.
In February, Friends gave out 74 vouchers, March 81, April 71, May 82. And there's a waiting list for June.
Not only that, President Judi Daunel told me, the vouchers have had a 62 percent usage rate.
The only thing they need is more money to fund more vouchers (see item on Friends' upcoming fundraiser).
"People are trying to be responsible pet owners," Critters' Thrasher said. "They will get their pets altered if it's reasonable."
She said, on average, Critters gets three to eight vouchers weekly from the various local organizations.
OK, I know each of these efforts is just a small glimmer on its own.
But if we support them, someday, hopefully, they will become an actual beacon to lead us out of our animal overpopulation nightmare.