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Spay, neuter program making difference

February 13, 2019
A year into running the Crawford County Spay and Neuter program, Jamie Breeding couldn't be more pleased.

The program provides low-cost spay and neuter services for cats and dogs to Crawford County residents. Above, Loren Brown fills out the necessary paperwork to have some feral cats transported. Photos Courtesy Jamie Breeding

"It was what I hoped it would be, and I'm hoping for a better turnout in 2019 since more of the word is out," she said.

Since January 2018, Pets Alive, a non-profit veterinary clinic, picks up animals at Lisa's Auction Barn in English each month and transports them to its facility in Bloomington, where it provides spay and neuter services at a low cost. After keeping the animals overnight to ensure they are properly recovering, Pets Alive transports them back to the county.

The cost since the program's inception has been $60 per dog, $30 per cat and $25 per feral cat. In April, the price for all but feral cats will increase by $5.

"But it's really still affordable considering normal vet costs," Breeding said.

In the program's first year, 50 dogs, 127 pet cats and 88 feral cats were transported.

"The feral number is huge. That's making a huge difference for the feral population in Crawford," Breeding said, adding those numbers do not reflect some of the extra transports she took herself and some that were sent to area veterinarians.

Breeding, a Dubois County transplant who lives at Taswell, began the program after talking with Andrea Gramelspacher, the president of the Dubois County Humane Society, which has offered a low-cost spay and neuter program through Pets Alive to residents there for years. Breeding, telling Gramelspacher that Crawford County did not have any veterinarians or a humane society, joked that if she won the lottery, she would begin a similar program. Gramelspacher told Breeding, if she would oversee it, the DCHS would be willing to bring the program to Crawford County.

"If it wasn't for them, this wouldn't have happened," Breeding said.

The Crawford County program received a significant boost when it was awarded a $5,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Crawford County last year. The grant helped the program with expenses, while also allowing it to provide assistance to residents with multiple animals.

"I've had several that's brought three, four, five cats at a time," Breeding said.

She noted one older man asked her how many cats he could have spayed and neutered for $60, to which she told him all of them.

The program also received $500 from Uebelhor and Sons Toyota in Jasper after being anonymously nominated for the dealership's non-profit grants program.

"For that to be the first year for Crawford County Spay and Neuter, that was huge," Breeding said. "I cried."

She added the program also is part of the pet food rotation offered by the Tractor Supply Co. store in Tell City, and has received support from members of the community.

"I've got a nice build-up of equipment now. A lot of people have donated," she said.

Part of what has made the program successful is its simplicity. Unless she is sick, the weather is bad or it is a holiday, Breeding is at Lisa's Auction Barn at 1976 S.R. 64 in English each Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. to conduct sign-ups. She then calls the pet owners the Wednesday before the Thursday transport to remind them to have their animals at Lisa's between 6 and 6:45 the next morning, where she gets them ready for transport.

Breeding added that her husband, another volunteer Lisa Novak, whom she called "a godsend," and Gramelspacher also often help.

Once the animals are returned on Friday, Breeding will call the pet owners again to notify them that their animal is ready for pick-up and if there are any additional costs for services such as needed vaccines, aborted pregnancies, worming, etc.

(While not part of the transport services, Breeding said pet owners can have their animals microchipped for $20 on Thursdays at the Dubois County Humane Society in Jasper.)

Noting there is a limit of 40 animals per month that can be transported, which is up from 30 in 2018, Breeding added that pet owners also may sign up and pay with a credit card at www.duboiscountyhumane.org/book-a-spayneuter-appointment.html. However, if financial assistance is needed, they still must sign up in person or call Breeding at 812-630-4139.

Following are the remaining transport dates for 2019: Feb. 28, March 28, April 25, May 23, June 27, July 25, Aug. 22, Sept. 26 and Oct. 24. For more information, visit the Crawford County Spay and Neuter Facebook page.

While efforts, including county government-funded vouchers, have been made through the years to increase spay and neuter services, with no veterinarians located inside the county, decreasing the unwanted cat and dog population has remained a challenge, as some people are unable, or unwilling, to take their animals to the vets.

For Breeding, knowing that 265 animals, including 88 feral cats, were spayed or neutered in 2018 that otherwise might not have been because of the Crawford County Spay and Neuter program is powerful.

"It's awesome. I'm going to cry," she said. "I feel blessed really to be able to do this. It's such a huge need in this county."

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