After falling just short of a major PetSmart Charities, Inc. grant earlier this year, the organization invited Columbus, Georgia's Animal Care and Control Center (ACCC) to apply for a second $58,250 grant which was awarded last week.
"PetSmart Charities was impressed with our Save A Pet program and the dramatic positive results we have seen since implementing that program", said Drale Short, Special Enforcement Division Director.
The City recently reported that under the Save A Pet program, the ACCC euthanasia rate has drop from 80% of animals received in 2010, to 64% in 2010, and to 52% in 2012. The first quarter of 2013 continues the declining trend with a four-month euthanasia rate of 32%.
"When we came in second place on the $1,000,000 PetSmart grant earlier this year, they immediately said 'we want to find a way to work with Columbus'. Fortunately, this grant opportunity came along", explained Short.
The $58,250 grant will pay for approximately 1,000 feral cats to be spayed or neutered. There will also be monies to purchase equipment for the trapping of the feral cats and for education and marketing. Feral cats suffer the highest percentage euthanasia rate because they constitute the largest population challenge of all stray or abandoned animals.
"Cats that are not spayed or neuter and then become lost or abandoned quickly procreate. Feral cat colonies are established throughout our community. If we don't get a handle on it quickly we can have 50, 60, 70 cats in one colony. At that point, it becomes a nuisance to neighbors and businesses nearby and none of that bodes well for the animals", said Pat Biegler, Director of Public Works who oversees Special Enforcement and ACCC. "Roughly, 67% of the cats we take in have to be put down because the population far exceeds adoption demand and because many of the cats have become diseased or injured in the wild. We can do much better than the 67% rate if we address the over-population issue through a good spay and neuter program. This grant allows us to start doing that."
The grant funds will be provided in 2013 and will be used as follows:
~ $50,000 for spay/neuter surgeries of approximately 1,000 free-roaming cats in Columbus, Georgia, including cost of rabies vaccinations
~ $3,250 for 50 feral cat dens
~ $2,500 for 50 traps
~ $2,500 for marketing/education materials