Local business provides affordable pet care

By Trisha Gurley

For a lot of people, family is the root of their lives. If you’re like me, you regard your pets as family. As great as having a family is, it can also be expensive. I have no children, but my cat Milton needs food, shelter, attention, toys, medical care (more than most cats, since he is diabetic), and, of course, lots of love. When I adopted him in 2003, I made a pledge that I would keep him for life. Like children, he’s a permanent fixture.

I am feeling the economical crunch as much as anyone. My husband and I both have suffered work cutbacks. Even so, Milton is non-negotiable. He was already neutered when I got him, but not everyone is so fortunate. Sadly, the real sufferers of unspayed or unneutered pets are the animals themselves. Every year, the city of Memphis must euthanize 14,000 animals due to overpopulation—around 38 animals per day.

[singlepic id=216 w=320 h=240 mode=web20 float=right]As bleak as that sounds, there is an alternative. Barbara Standing is the Director of Development for Mid-South Spay and Neuter Services (formerly the Animal Protection Association), which gives pet owners an affordable alternative for spaying and neutering their pets. Standing is a former pilot for FedEx and now devotes herself full-time to Mid-South Spay and Neuter Services and animal welfare.
“We are seriously committed to reducing the unwanted pet population, but it takes a community effort,” Standing explains. “There is no simple answer as to why we have such a high stray and unwanted pet problem, but there is only one solution, and that is spaying and neutering pets! The problem is, of course, multi-faceted, as everyone has such different views about animals. Irresponsible pet ownership is certainly one aspect of the problem. Also, the cost of spays and neuters and vaccinations can be prohibitive to many pet owners. The cost of the surgery, vaccinations, and microchipping can add up fast, easily surpassing $300 for a large female dog at a private veterinarian clinic.”
The cost of spaying/neutering a dog at Mid-South Spay and Neuter Services ranges from $50 to $70, depending on the dog’s gender and weight. Cats are $35 to $40, with gender again being the variant. Feral cats can be fixed for $25 (they can loan you a humane trap for feral cats). There are other services offered (at the time of surgery only), including: rabies vaccines, heartworm testing, microchipping, deworming, and FIV testing. If these costs are not feasible for you, don’t despair. “We offer free and ‘Pay What You Can’ spay and neuter surgeries whenever possible,” Standing says. “When we get donations or grant monies for a specific program, we immediately make it available to the public. When we get a grant award, for example, from the H.W. Durham Foundation, we are able to offer a ‘Pay What You Can’ program to help pet owners aged 55 and over with the cost of their pet’s surgery. We also just received a very generous two-year grant from the Margarette J. Sather Animal Welfare Fund, which will allow us to spay or neuter the pets of people who cannot pay for surgeries. These types of grants really allow us to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Some of those grant monies will also support quarterly free Planned PetHood Spay days at our clinic that will also target pet owners that are unable to pay for the surgeries.” 
Not only does spaying or neutering your pet make life easier for you (and your pet!), it betters the community at large. “By helping Mid-South Spay & Neuter Services to spay and neuter as many animals as possible, you help all the other rescue groups and shelters!” Standing says. “If we can prevent the births of unwanted litters and those litters’ subsequent births, literally thousands of unwanted animals that would meet untimely and often cruel deaths are spared by prevention. I look forward to the day that Memphis Animal Services is not forced to euthanize so many wonderful pets each day because there is simply no one to adopt them.” The most commonly euthanized breed at Memphis Animal Serivces (and nationwide) is the pit bull, so Mid-South Spay and Neuter Services has an annual Dog Days of Summer program to spay or neuter pit bulls and pit bull mixes for no charge.

If you find yourself facing a financial situation where you are no longer able to keep your pet, Standing has some wise advice: “When it becomes necessary to try and find a home for your pet, you are always your pet’s best advocate. Ask friends, neighbors, and family members initially. You can also send out an email blast to everyone you know with an irresistible photo and a very thorough bio about your pet. Be sure to give perspective adoptive pet parents all the pertinent information to be able to make an informed decision. Include age, sex, redeeming characteristics, special needs, likes/dislikes kids, and does the pet coexist with other cats/dogs? It can make the difference of a good, permanent match or not. Someone may even know the perfect person to adopt your pet based on your email ad. You can try calling local pet rescue groups in the area. If your dog is breed specific there may be that particular breed rescue group willing to take the dog. A lot of rescue groups also take cats, and there are also several cat-only no-kill shelters in the Memphis area. Mid-South Spay and Neuter Services will certainly do our best to spay or neuter the pet and provide age-appropriate vaccinations, which will help the pet to get adopted too.”

Standing is quick to mention that the entire staff, from veterinarians to administrative, at Mid-South Spay and Neuter Services is fully devoted to the animals in their care. “There is a great force of compassion and skill behind our front doors…as a nonprofit organization, though, we depend on donations to operate, so we are always looking for donations and financial support.” They have just begun a greeting card program that will allow people to go to their website, select an occasion, and purchase a card for $25. “We will send the card out to the designated recipient on their behalf, letting them know they have given the gift of spay and neuter from someone special. This can all be done on our website.” There is also a Balls-Go-Lore fundraiser coming up on September 5th at the home of Kent and Dana Farmer, involving mint juleps, croquet, live music, and food.

If you are not able to donate but still want to help the animals, there is also a need for volunteers.

Mid-South Spay and Neuter Services is located at 854 Goodman, just off of Park. Go to spaymemphis.org for more information. You may contact Barbara Standing at 901-213-8210 or at b.standing@spaymemphis.org.

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