We’ve received a bunch of emails over the last couple of days asking about our spay & neuter program. Fix Harford is the name of No Kill Harford’s low/no cost spay & neuter program for cats, dogs, ferrets, and rabbits. Fix Harford is not a clinic, it’s a community service program that helps people. The program is just in it’s beginning stages and we’re looking for volunteers to help us get things moving forward. If you would like to be a part of this program, please email us at email@example.com.
At this point, everyone knows that it is incredibly important to have our pets spayed & neutered. National spay & neuter campaigns have been promoting the benefits for years and many people credit the decreases in the number of animals killed in American shelters each year to those campaigns. It’s a simple premise; less puppies and kittens born will result in fewer unwanted animals being dumped on the streets or surrendered to shelters. We know from the American Pet Products Association (APPA) National Pet Owners Survey that among families making over $35,000 per year 78 percent of pet dogs and 88 percent of pet cats are spayed or neutered. Among families making less than $35,000 annually, the number drops to below 45%. We also know from information published by The National Council on Pet Population Study & Policy that only about 10% of the animals received by shelters are spayed or neutered.
No one disagrees that a majority of people will spay & neuter their pets when they have the financial means to do so. Fix Harford is a program that helps people that want to spay & neuter their pets find affordable, free, or discounted spay & neuter services AND helps them follow through with the spay or neuter. Afterwards, Fix Harford provides follow up support to those families that are most vulnerable to potentially having to give up their pet due to financial difficulties.
Components of Fix Harford
It’s important to understand that Fix Harford is not a spay/neuter clinic. Instead, Fix Harford is a Community Service that helps people take care of their pets. We hope to develop good relationships with veterinarians and clinics throughout the area so that we can help as many people as possible. The five core components of Fix Harford are:
- Community Outreach – Unfortunately, the old saying “if you build it they will come” simply isn’t true. The most critical component of the Fix Harford program is people and their pets. Getting out into the community and letting people in need know that help is out there is the single greatest challenge faced by Fix Harford. We believe that by reaching out to community based financial assistance programs, food pantries, housing assistance organizations, and churches will help get the word out about the services that we are offering. We will help people with the application process and work with people to help determine how much they can reasonably contribute to the process (if anything at all) and prioritize applications to help those most in need first. Great efforts will be made to help people help themselves as much as possible, and provide support where it is most needed.
- Partnerships – Since Fix Harford doesn’t actually perform the spay/neuter surgeries, it is critical that we develop excellent working relationships with veterinarians and clinics that currently offer discounted services for the community. These existing services have the infrastructure and experience to help us get up and running as fast as possible. For programs & clinics that would like to expand their ability to serve the community, Fix Harford will help them with fund raising and grant proposals. As critical as it is for Fix Harford to eliminate obstacles pet owners face trying to get their pets spayed/neutered, it’s equally critical for Fix Harford to work to address obstacles clinics and low cost programs face helping as many pets as possible. It’s through these collaborative efforts that significant strides can be made in Harford County towards eliminating unwanted births of puppies and kittens.
- Fundraising – Obviously, Fix Harford is going to need funding to accomplish it’s goals. Even though many people involved with low cost spay/neuter generously donate their time, there are still many “hard costs” tied to helping these animals. Vaccines, surgical supplies, wormers, etc all cost real money. During the application process, Fix Harford will encourage families to help out as much as they can, but we believe that finances shouldn’t be a barrier to keeping a spayed or neutered pet in a loving home. So Fix Harford will engage in fundraising and applying for charitable grants in order to not only pay for spay/neuter surgeries when necessary, but also for after care items such as; collars, leashes, pet beds, annual vaccinations, pet food, etc. No Kill Harford is in the process of filing for 501(c)(3) tax status so that donations can be tax deductible. Tax exempt status will also allow us to apply for grants from charitable organizations that help both people and pets such as the United Way, PetSmart Charities, et al.
- Follow-through – Many times, even when people that need assistance with their pet are put in touch with services that can help them, they fail to follow-through for a myriad of reasons. Another key component to Fix Harford’s success is compassionately and professionally helping families take the steps necessary in order to get their pet spayed or neutered. Whether that help is in the form of financial assistance, transportation, child care, or whatever else it takes, Fix Harford is committed to solving any problem preventing a family that wants to have their pet spayed/neutered from actually doing so.
- Aftercare – Lastly, the most important step in the process is aftercare. Fix Harford is a program of No Kill Harford, and our ultimate goal is to reduce the number of animals being euthanized each year in Harford County. We believe that one of the most important things that we can do to achieve our goal is to keep pets in loving homes instead of allowing them to be abandoned. Abandoned animals are the most at risk for being euthanized in a shelter. Many times, families most in need of low/no cost spay & neuter services are at the greatest risk of giving up their pet. Financial barriers such as veterinary care or food costs as well as social barriers such has relocating to housing that doesn’t allow pets often results in dogs and cats being dumped on the side of a road or turned in at the local shelter. For each family helped by Fix Harford, we are committed to regular check-ins with that family to make sure that they have everything they need to be able to continue to care for their pet. If they need help with pet food, we’ll provide it. If they are concerned about their pets health but cannot afford veterinary care, we will help them. Following our principle belief that finances should not be a reason to separate a pet from a loving home, we will help both families and their pets for as long as needed.
Fix Harford is not yet an operational program. We are just getting started. No Kill Harford is currently taking the legal steps required to allow us to become a 501(c)(3) charity so that we can begin fundraising and grant applications. The application process for Fix Harford is currently being drafted. Relationships with veterinarians and low/no cost spay & neuter clinics are just starting to be developed. The future is very bright for this new type of Community Service that will help people by helping their pets. Over time, the long term results of Fix Harford will be a lower number of abandoned and surrendered pets in our county as well as a reduction in the number of unwanted litters of puppies and kittens. Our goal is to be able to start offering our first spay & neuters this summer. Please join our email list to stay up to date with our progress.
In order to move Fix Harford forward, we need volunteers! If you’re interested in helping with our spay & neuter efforts, we’re currently seeking volunteers for the following positions:
Project Committee Member
Public Services Liaison
If you’re interested in helping or learning more, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org