February is “Spay/Neuter Awareness Month” and we would like to highlight an incredible program that PAWS of Jackson Hole offers to the residents of Teton County, WY, Star Valley, WY and Teton County, ID.
The program helps individuals spay/neuter their pet(s) by paying for the surgery outright (for low-income families earning under $40,000 annually). If you make more than $40,000 and you need assistance, you can purchase a voucher for only $35 for dogs or $20 for cats.
The purpose of February being the awareness month is to encourage people to have their pets sterilized before the spring and summer months when there is a rampant overproduction of puppies and kittens. During that time most animal shelters experience an unmanageable increase in animal intake. Spay/neutering helps to decrease those numbers and saves pets’ lives.
*Helpful Tip: The best time to fix your pet is by 4 months old to prevent accidental litters.
All the animals in the photos below are recipients of spay and neuter vouchers through this program!
How long has PAWS been doing the Spay & Neuter Program in the Jackson Hole valley?
At PAWS of JH’s inception, our original mission was to ensure that all shelter pets were spayed and neutered before they were adopted out into our community. PAWS funded the spay/ neuter initiative at the Jackson/Teton County animal shelter until Old Bill’s Fun Run came around and the animal shelter was able to raise its own money for the needed procedures. Once that happened PAWS turned its attention to encouraging people to spay and neuter their own pets in an effort to reduce the number of pets being relinquished at the shelter. In 2008 PAWS launched our free spay and neuter voucher program in Teton County, WY. In 2011 PAWS expanded the program to include Teton Valley, Idaho and Star Valley, WY covering a population of more than 50,000 people. The program is having a positive impact. For instance, the spay and neuter voucher program started in 2008 and the Jackson/ Teton County Animal Shelter had an average of 650-700 pets moving through the shelter in any given year. The first year of PAWS’ free spay and neuter voucher program the number dropped to 408 and by 2016 only 172 homeless animals came through the Jackson shelter.
What hurdles have you seen since your spay/neuter voucher induction?
Because of the rural nature of Teton Valley, ID and Star Valley, WY we have yet to see a dramatic result at the shelters in these communities. We are seeing fewer puppies and kittens, but the general population of unwanted pets remains high. Plus, in these communities, there are startling numbers of feral barn cats who have been reproducing for years unchecked. We are confident that if we keep the momentum of the program going we will see impact at these shelters. This year we were awarded a spay and neuter grant from Pet Smart Charities which has allowed us to increase our TNR (Trap Neuter Return) efforts in Teton Valley, Idaho. We are currently working with a couple of local cat trappers in TV to start chipping away at the number of feral and unspayed/unneutered barn cats. Residents can sign up their properties with PAWS and we will have a trusted volunteer go to their property and trap the cats and transport them to a vet to be spayed or neutered and then returned back to the property owners. PAWS has linked with Pets Place Plus in rewarding people with a bag of cat food as a thank you for making the decision to have these cats spayed and neutered and further taking care of them. PAWS believes that TNR is the most humane and effective way to addressing the overwhelming number of unwanted stray and feral cats. TNR stops the breeding cycle of cats and therefore improves their lives while preventing reproduction. Once the proper partnerships are in place, we are hoping to translate these efforts into the Star Valley communities as well.
How easy is it to get and use the spay/neuter voucher?
We are issuing spay and neuter vouchers every day, all year round. This makes it as easy as possible for people to get their animals spayed and neutered when they have time. People can apply for the voucher and get the surgery done any day of the year, making it very convenient and easy to use.
How many vouchers do you issue in a year normally?
“Normally” is a tough one. In 2016 we issued 1131 vouchers (697 in Star Valley, 352 in Teton Valley, and 82 in Jackson). In 2017 we issued 837 vouchers (509 in Star Valley, 232 in Teton Valley, and 96 in Jackson). We are continuing to advertise our program in all of the areas and are increasing our outreach efforts with the goal of making sure all who live in those areas know that if cost of a surgery is a problem for them that they are able to get their animals spayed or neutered through PAWS for free. We have started working with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s office in getting the message across and making the public more aware of the service we provide in the Star Valley area.
How many vets do you have on board with this program?
We have 12 total participating vet offices:
- Star Valley: Bridger Animal Hospital, Alpine Vet Clinic, All Creatures Great and Small, Cottonwood Creek Vet Clinic.
- Teton Valley: Driggs Vet Clinic, Victor Veterinary, Wydaho Mobile Vet, Circle S Mobile Vet.
- Jackson: Wydaho Mobile Vet, Jackson Animal Hospital, Spring Creek Animal Hospital, Animal Care Clinic, and Fish Creek Vet Clinic.
This program could not exist without the cooperation of these amazing local vet clinics.
Over the entire span of this program how many vouchers have you issued?
Since 2008 PAWS has issued 5,625 surgery vouchers. When you put that number next to the numbers of possible births it’s pretty incredible. An unspayed cat can have up to 3 litters a year and in just seven years, one unspayed female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 kittens. An unspayed dog can have 2 litters per year and in seven years one unspayed female dog and her offspring can produce 97,000 puppies. Because of PAWS’ spay and neuter voucher program 5,265 animals have not contributed to those numbers.
How much does the surgery normally cost without the help of a voucher?
It depends. In the Star Valley and Teton Valley areas a cat neuter costs around 80 and a cat spay around 140. The spay number is subject to increase if the cat is in heat at the time of spay. A dog neuter is around 155 and a dog spay is around 190 depending on the weight of the animal. In the Jackson area, a cat neuter costs around 75 and a cat spay is around 135. A dog spay is around 210 and a dog neuter is around 170.
**All of these numbers fluctuate with which vet you use and if there are complications or blood work needed at the time of surgery.
Thank you for spaying/neutering your pets! If everyone spayed and neutered, we would save 2.6 million dogs and cats from kill shelters each year.
Spay. Neuter. Adopt!
To learn more about PAWS Of Jackson Hole and their other events and programs, click on their logo below: