Humane Society volunteer Pam Kuebler says she will never forget the fall day in 2011 when her neighbor’s unneutered Great Dane attacked her face.
“Dog owners need to be made accountable for unneutered males,” she told the Times-News.
She and two other Humane Society workers, volunteer Marlene LaDuke and Spay/Neuter Clinic Coordinator, Diane Leatherman, agreed that county laws should be made stricter when it comes to animal owners, particularly of cats and dogs.
The Times-News sat down with the three women Wednesday afternoon for a interview about the importance of spaying and neutering the community’s favorite domesticated pets in honor of National Spay and Neuter Awareness Month this month.
Every four weeks, the Human Society of Lincoln County hosts low-cost clinics for up to 80 cats and dogs at their facility on Country Club Road in Lincolnton. Although the organization’s price for spaying and neutering is much lower than that of vet offices and other area locations, officials are dropping the prices even lower for this month only.
The organization sends the animals to the Humane Alliance in Asheville, another nonprofit group that actually performs the surgeries and gives the animals ample attention and care, including a lavish “dog beach” recovery area, and transports them back to Lincoln County following a one-night stay at the facility.
While Humane Society officials and volunteers would like for all cat and dog owners to use the discounted clinic for “fixing” their pets, they are more concerned about the issue at hand, desiring to keep the already-overwhelmed pet population at bay.
“We don’t care where they (owners) go and get them (pets) fixed, as long as they get it done,” Leatherman said.
According to statistics compiled by SPAY/USA, a program of The Pet Savers Foundation Inc., in New York, the litter from an unspayed female dog will result in more than 15 additional puppies at the end of one year followed by more shocking numbers at the end of three years, with more than 500 puppies, and at the end of six years, with roughly 67,000 from successive generations, assuming none of those puppies are spayed or neutered.
The same logic, when applied to cats, produces an even greater statistic at the end of nearly a decade, with more than 11 million cats running rampant across any given region.
Because communities can’t allow populations of stray and feral cats and dogs to get that far out of hand, the alternative to spaying and neutering is euthanizing the animals.
Some 2,205 animals were put to sleep by Animal Services in Lincoln County last year. With an intake record of 4,002 animals, more than half of the animals surrendered to the county shelter in 2012 were killed.
LaDuke and Kuebler remembered the time they located 18 cats from a Lincoln County trailer in 2011. The residence, including the roof, was overrun with the feral felines, the women said.
The situation is not completely grim; the shelter also witnessed nearly 800 adoptions, more than 480 rescues and more than 200 animals returned to owners last year.
The Humane Society of Lincoln County established its spay/neuter clinic in 2000, and over the last several years, has served as the middle man for more than 8,000 surgeries, Leatherman said.
Last year, the organization coordinated a little more than 800 surgeries, significantly down from 1,100, the largest number of surgeries officials said they’ve scheduled since establishing the clinic.
The nonprofit organization does not discriminate when it comes to a specific size or breed and will even work with a cat or dog that is already pregnant or in heat, though a rabies vaccination is required beforehand.
The clinic visit is also significant for a majority of pets because it’s “the only vet check they’ll ever get,” LaDuke told the Times-News.
“A lot of the animals people bring in have already had several litters and have never been to a vet,” she said.
In addition to keeping the pet population down, spaying and neutering is necessary for having an overall healthier pet, preventing the spread of disease and ensuring males stay closer to home.
“Males in general won’t be out wandering around looking for love,” LaDuke said.
In addition, “fixing” an animal results in lower aggression levels for a male, and in Kuebler’s case, may have prevented her frightening attack.
“My entire face was engulfed in his mouth,” she said. “All this because they (county leaders) don’t have good laws.”
While Leatherman said aggression is part of a male animal’s nature, LaDuke noted that particular Great Dane also didn’t have proper training.
In addition, the dog had been reported to Animal Services on more than one occasion, Kuebler said, and while her “attacker” was later euthanized, her scars remain.
Registration for the next low-cost spay/neuter clinic will be 1-4 p.m. Wednesday and 4-6 p.m. Thursday at 2422 Country Club Road in Lincolnton. The clinic will be Feb. 26, also World Spay Day. Payment in the form of cash or check is due at registration.
For more information on Humane Alliance, visit humanealliance.org.