Spay and neuter your cats and dogs

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 5, 2011

By Susan Shinn
For the Salisbury Post
Spay and neuter.
Spay and neuter.
Spay and neuter.
At times, Jane Hartness must feel like a broken record. But really, the key to controlling the dog and cat population is, well, you guessed it: spay and neuter.
Hartness was one of four founders of the Humane Society in Rowan County some 37 years ago. In February, the humane society wrapped up a special emphasis on spaying and neutering. More than 50 pets received the service.
But, Hartness says, “We do spay and neuter every month.”
The humane society is in its seventh year of offering transportation to clinics in Greensboro or Kernersville for this service. Additionally, a local veterinarian meets reduced prices for spaying and neutering pets.
The humane society’s mission, Hartness explains, is to prevent cruelty to animals, reduce the suffering of animals and educate the public on responsible pet ownership.
Guess what that includes?
“Our focus is heavy on spay and neuter in order to accomplish that mission,” Hartness says.
For the past 20 years, the humane society has provided pet food to owners who are disabled, have lost jobs or are underemployed. As you might imagine, the demand for this service has recently increased.
“We give away five to seven bags of food every day,” Hartness says. “It’s every week and almost every day.”
“In the last two or three years, it’s gotten so much worse,” says Rose Corriher, a retired educator and humane society volunteer.
“Last summer, the need seemed to just soar,” Hartness says.
Friends of the humane society often buy pet food during buy one, get one free specials, donating a bag to the organization. Hartness welcomes donations of pet food from schools, clubs, Sunday school classes — any group that would like to help.
It’s not uncommon for Hartness to refer pet owners to other agencies so that they, too, may get assistance with food and other services.
“We’re looking out for people, too,” Hartness says.
The humane society helps subsidize the cost of spaying and neutering pets.
At the moment, that figure is approaching the 50 percent mark, Hartness says. “They’re people who want to be responsible but the time is not right for them.”
The humane society was founded, Hartness says, because of a “horrible problem with abandonment of animals and cruelty.”
All these years later, Hartness is seeing an increase in abandonment cases — 29 since Jan. 1. In addition, there were five calls from owners no longer able to care for their pets, nine neglect calls, one call for temporary care and seven abuse calls.
Hartness suspects the economy is partly to blame. Pet owners are often evicted and don’t take their animals with them.
“If people don’t see the animal, they think it will be taken care of,” Corriher says.
But, Hartness says firmly, “There’s no excuse for abandonment and cruelty to any living thing.”
Hartness also points out that, while the humane society works with Rowan County Animal Control, “they are not us and we are not them.” The two agencies work together, but the humane society is a nonprofit, grassroots, volunteer group.
In February, several individuals were honored by the humane society for their volunteer efforts. They included: Polly Anderson, Rodney Cress, Sarah Hickey, Christel Honeycutt, Brian Romans, Regina Stansel, Jennifer Stokes and Susan Suhr.
Hartness always welcomes new volunteers. For more information about the Humane Society of Rowan County, call 704-636-5700, opt. 9.
Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.