Part of caring for a pet is making sure they are healthy, but those veterinarian visits can add up. Spaying/neutering your animal can sometimes cost as much as several hundred dollars, but the Maryland SPCA is working to help low-income Baltimore City residents afford the surgery.
For the second year in a row, the Maryland Department of Agriculture awarded the Maryland SPCA and Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Center (BARCS) a $110,000 grant that will pay for the spay/neuter operations of 250 dogs and 1,000 cats.
Eric Graham lives in Park Heights, an area covered by the grant. Several times a day you can see him walking his two dogs and cat around the block. He said if it wasn’t for the Maryland SPCA he might not be able to fully care for all his animals.
“If it wasn't for the SPCA I'd probably have to take my animals to the dog pound because I wouldn't have the money to get them spayed or neutered,” said Graham.
That's something the Maryland SPCA doesn't want to happen to any caring pet owner.
“We offer free surgeries, we have transportation if you need it, we have a phone number where they can call anytime and get a hold of somebody in order to get the surgery,” said Nichole Miller, the director of operations for the Maryland SPCA.
The only requirement is that the pet owner lives in one of these six zip codes 21215, 21216, 21217, 21218, 21223, 21229.
“So, we really are focusing in on certain zip codes in Western Baltimore City because those zip codes had a higher number of unwanted animals that were ending up in shelters,” Miller said.
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Shelters that are already overcrowded with animals waiting for a loving home. Through the grant, they hope to reduce the number of cats and dogs euthanized in shelters.
“We know that cats will have multiple litters in a year and a normal litter is about 4 kittens. So, if a cat is having three litters of four kittens that's 12 kittens and that's 12 kittens there might not be homes for,” Miller added.
Fixing your pet can also improve their health, extend their lives, and decrease their risk of contracting diseases.
Door-to-door Maryland SPCA volunteers are approaching residents to inform them about the free services. They’re also targeting neighborhoods where atleast 20 percent of the residents are living below the poverty level.
“Just because someone cannot afford the price of a spay and neuter does not mean they love their pet any less and we see that,” said Marcus Brown, the spay and neuter outreach coordinator with the Maryland SPCA.
Brown saw that in pet owners like Graham who this month will be six years sober. He said his animals help keep him on the right track.
“My animals help me stay out of trouble because if I decide I want to do something stupid because it's the choices that we make, I think of them and I think of my kids because if I get locked up who's going to take care of my animals? Anybody can feed them but it's more to it than just feeding them,” Graham said.
Brown added that he keeps an open mind every time he knocks on someone’s door, because between the vacant homes he’s met people who are passionate about their pets, they just sometimes need a helping hand.
“We just want to be able to say we're here, we understand, and we can lend a hand as well,” Brown said.
The free service will run through the end of 2016, or until all the surgeries are complete. They’ve already fulfilled the 250 free dog procedures available for the year, and have around 500 remaining cat appointments. They also offer year-round reduced rates to low-income pet owners that qualify.
For more information or questions, you can reach Marc Brown at 410-499-5372 or email@example.com.