Bimonthly low-cost spay/neuter clinics available to Kahnawa’kehró:non can have benefits way beyond just ensuring to help curb the unwanted pet population, a local animal-control officer said last week.
The program, which will celebrate its tenth anniversary in just a few days, has managed to look after nearly 1,500 pets in that time, marking a big milestone, Kahnawake assistant animal-protection officer Deidra Whyte said.
“It’s astonishing, but at the same time, it’s been 10 years,” Whyte said.
The first low-cost spay/neuter clinic was held in Kahnawake on June 16, 2012, and was the product of a collaboration between a local veterinary student and one of her professors. After a few meetings to iron out the logistics, the clinic—held at the former Peacekeepers station – managed to look after 18 dogs and 11 cats.
Since then, the clinics have been held in Kirkland at the Timberlea animal hospital every two weeks, with Whyte transporting the animals to and from the community for their procedures in the interests of logistics. To date, 1,461 cats and dogs have been spayed or neutered as part of the program.
“It was too hard to bring all the materials and the different supplies needed, so now, we transport the animals to the Timberlea (animal hospital),” Whyte said.
The cost to locals is about half of what it would normally cost to get animals fixed, Whyte said. The benefits, she added, are myriad.
“It’s not just Canada, or the U.S.,” she said. “Animal overpopulation is a global issue, and so many shelters are overrun by animals. Getting your pets spayed or neutered can also eliminate the risk of testicular cancer, or ovarian cancer as well as mammary gland tumors,” Whyte said.
Animals can be spayed or neutered as early as eight weeks of age, or until they attain two pounds of body weight. For kittens, that can sometimes force them to wait a little longer, but it’s worth it, Whyte added.
“It will also eliminate some of the behaviours that occur in heat, such as wandering too much, or even limit spraying and marking of territory,” she said.
The double benefit of having fewer unwanted pets and getting them fixed at half the cost of a regular spaying or neutering is a win-win for Kahnawake, Whyte said.
“It’s incredibly important for us to be able to look after the animals in the community and reducing the number of unwanted pets,” Whyte said.
The next low-cost spay/neuter clinic will be held June 15 – the eve of the program’s tenth anniversary – and to get your pet spayed or neutered, all you have to do is contact Whyte at the Kahnawake Animal Protection office at 450-632-0635 ext. 53527
Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase