SPCA’s services prove a success

The Montgomery County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ PAL (Prevent Another Litter)

The Montgomery County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ PAL (Prevent Another Litter) program has been deemed a success after 500 cats were either spayed or neutered last year.

The program began in December 2006 and offers spaying, neutering and other feline veterinary services to pet owners at an affordable cost.

According to Jan Zumbolo, president of the SPCA’s board of directors, the program works in partnership with the Animal Protective Foundation of Glenville. Each Monday, a pet owner can drop off a cat at the Amsterdam shelter and the cats — up to 25 per day — are transported to the Animal Protective Foundation in Glenville. Veterinarians there perform the surgery and the cats are brought back to the Amsterdam shelter in the afternoon.

The service also includes a rabies vaccination, testing for feline AIDS and feline leukemia, nail trimming, ear mite treatment and flea treatment.

The entire package, including transportation, costs $75. Zumbolo said those services would typically cost cat owners well over $200 normally.

Zumbolo said she is surprised at how well the program worked in its first year.

“It doesn’t cease to amaze me the number of people who will take in stray and feral cats; it’s amazing, and we’re meeting a lot of them through the PAL program,” she said. “If they weren’t taking care of the cats, they’d be reproducing.”

Toni Weil, the county SPCA’s shelter manager, said they receive about 25 calls per day about stray or sick cats.

“It’s a bad situation for cats out there. The lucky ones make it to the shelter, but there are so many out there that we still need to rescue,” she said.

The Montgomery County SPCA houses between 70 and 80 cats at a time, Weil said. Often the shelter is at capacity and staff members bring home for a night additional cats to accommodate the overflow, she said.

“That’s why we need a new shelter,” Weil said.

The SPCA was deeded 22 acres down the street from its current location on Route 5S and is in the process of raising money to build a larger facility.

Organizations like the SPCA are the reason why the Animal Protective Foundation is able to offer veterinarian services at a low cost, because the SPCA handles the administrative costs of the program, taking money and making appointments.

According to Marguerite Pearson, director of communications for the Animal Protective Foundation in Glenville, the shelter offered a mobile clinic until 2005 for low-income pet owners to spay and neuter their animals. Pearson said the mobile clinic performed about 7,000 surgeries in its three-year existence.

The program was discontinued because it was unable to maintain itself financially. Pearson said the partnership with local organizations such as the SPCA allows the Animal Protective Foundation to offer a similar low-cost program, because the administrative costs for the APF are minimal.

The latest program has been so successful, Pearson said, that the shelter has hired another part-time veterinarian to do surgeries three days per week.

Pearson said the nice thing about the program is that different animal organizations with different philosophies are partnering to stop the overpopulation of cats.

“All these organizations have a different philosophy,” she said. “What is important is that we are all working together on the importance of spaying and neutering. That’s tough in the animal field because there are so many emotions, but this is an example of a program that is working in the Capital Region.”

Weil said the shelter is fortunate to partner with an organization like the Animal Protective Foundation.

Weil estimated that there are thousands of stray cats in the area and urged residents to take action against the “epidemic.”

“People have to realize that this is a community problem,” she said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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