Lawrence County residents on cash assistance from the state are eligible for the program.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- The Lawrence County Humane Society is getting some help in its fight to control the pet population.
Petsmart Charities Inc., a division of PetsMart stores, gave the society $10,000 to start a free spay and neuter program for the pets of low-income county residents.
"Spaying and neutering is the only answer to controlling the pet population. Once a dog or a cat has had a litter, the problem is established," said Cindy Mittica, president of the human society's board of directors and Lawrence County's Humane Officer.
Vicki Goldenson, humane society volunteer, applied for the grant in the spring after the group decided to start the program.
She estimates the $10,000 grant will pay for about 250 spay and neuter surgeries. Goldenson said four veterinarians have agreed to do the work at reduced rates, but the cost varies depending on the animal's size.
"If we get a lot of cats and small dogs, we will be able to do more. If you get a lot of large dogs, it will be less," she said.
Who is eligible: Anyone receiving assistance through the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare is eligible for the program.
Goldenson said they must bring in proof to the humane society shelter in New Castle that they receive some sort of cash assistance through the state and they will be given a voucher to have their pet spayed or neutered.
Gregg Scanlon, PetsMart district manager for western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, said his company gives between $3 million and $4 million each year to shelters and organizations through this grant program.
Most of the money is given to expanding shelters, but the second-largest request comes from organizations offering free or low-cost spay and neuter programs.
The goal: "The purpose of the foundation is to help eliminate the overpopulation of pets," he said.
Humane society officials say a spay and neuter program is the only answer to controlling the pet population.
"There's no excuse for the people who can afford to spay or neuter their pets not to do it. For the people who can't afford it, there is now a service available. It should be there for the taking," Mittica said.