Gainesville’s No More Homeless Pets is offering select individuals free spay and neuter services for cats and dogs for a limited time.
NMHP has received a grant from Florida Animal Friend for $25,000 that will allow them to spay or neuter about 380 dogs and cats free of charge for Alachua County’s low-income residents, veterans and students who receive financial aid. The grant covers the cost of surgery, anesthesia and pain medication for the animals.
The program runs until the grant money runs out, which NMHP Executive Director Sandi Richmond estimates will be in about two to three months.
Richmond said applicable low-income residents include those on government assistance such as food stamps, Medicaid or Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
“We’re able to fix almost 400 animals for people that are low-income, Alachua County residents,” Richmond said. “We’ve expanded it to military veterans or students that have Pell grants. We want to help everyone fix their pet.”
This is the third time NMHP has received the grant directly because groups can only receive the grant every other year. However, NMHP has received the grant each of the last five years when other animal rescue groups signed it over.
The grant is paid for from sales of the Florida Animal Friend specialty license plate. The plate costs an extra $25, all of which goes to Florida Animal Friend, according to the Florida Animal Friend website.
Florida Animal Friend specialty plate owner and Alachua County Animal Services investigator Jessica Lauginiger said she’s happy to see her money is being well spent.
“Usually, when you spend extra money and pay for a specialty tag, you don’t get to see the effect in your community,” she said. “It’s nice to see a direct positive impact in my community.”
Richmond said they have spayed or neutered more than 20,000 dogs and cats since they began Operation Petsnip in 2009. More than 2,000 of those surgeries have been free under the Pets of Alachua County Targeted Sterilization, or PACTS program.
“One of the things we found is that there are barriers to spay and neuter,” she said. “A lot of times people want to do the right thing, but if it’s between feeding their family or fixing their pet, they really don’t have a choice.”
Felicia Calvert took advantage of the program Tuesday by having her Chihuahua Missy and Chiweenie Nickie spayed at no cost. Calvert said she would not have been able to have her dogs spayed without the program, which she heard about from her mom who also used it.
“I think it’s awesome. I think it’s brilliant,” she said. “I’ve wanted to (have them spayed), but it’s a lot of money.”
No More Homeless Pets is located behind the Alachua County Humane Society at 4205 NW Sixth St. in Gainesville.