EDITOR'S NOTE: A phone number in this story has been corrected.
COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Animal shelters and rescues around the country have seen an uptick in pet owners giving up their animals because of the pandemic and inflation.
The Spay Neuter Project in Columbia has seen an increase in vaccine and surgery requests, performing 104 surgeries in four days the first week of August. The clinic is on target to complete more than 430 surgeries this month, according to the clinic.
The Spay Neuter Project, founded in 2015, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides low-cost spaying and neutering services as well as vital vaccines for pet owners and companion animal rescues.
The goal much of the time with these surgeries is to prevent overpopulation, which can lead to more animals in shelters, as well as disease spreading, especially among the feral cat population.
"For us, the pet overpopulation and the health of the animals is the most important piece for us," said Executive Director Janeene Johnston. "Also letting people know there are affordable options. Many people say they have never even taken their pet to a full service vet. If we can provide these essentials, hopefully they will seek more treatment at a veterinary office in the future."
The clinic says it offers vital services to pet owners who may not be able to fully afford care for their companions.
As a small nonprofit, the organization is struggling with issues caused by the pandemic and rising operational costs. Johnston believes inflation and the rising cost of goods in the country is driving more people to the clinic, with some coming to Columbia from as far as a 100 miles away.
"You've got pet owners who need to make sure they can do things affordably because they're having to cut corners maybe in other areas whether it's groceries or bills or gas and so they have to be really conscientious about finances," Johnston said.
The clinic offers some vaccines for as low as $15 and a range of surgery costs, with the highest for male dogs being roughly $80.
Because of donations from the public, the clinic doesn't have to always worry about dipping into its budget and spending money on food or cleaning supplies. Much of the time, after a quick announcement on social media, people will come with supplies to donate, some even ordering packages online to be delivered straight to their door.
The Spay and Neuter Project isn't the only place in Columbia trying to provide resources for pet owners in the Mid-Missouri area. The Central-Missouri Humane Society offers an abundance of different programs geared towards helping new and prospective owners, as well as the animals themselves. From foster and adoption programs, to opportunities in volunteer work, the Humane Society works to provide resources to better the lives of sheltered animals.
Like the Spay and Neuter Project, the Humane Society provides low cost opportunities for things like sterilization surgeries, microchip implants, and vaccinations.
The shelter says it can have around 100 to 300 pets in its care at one time.
"We are seeing more pet owners struggling to make ends meet and are doing our best to get pet and rescues scheduled as quickly as our calendar allows," said Johnston. "We know timing is imperative to prevent unwanted litters, and for rescued animals the sooner they are sterilized, the sooner they can put that pet up for adoption, opening up a kennel or foster home," she said.
The Spay and Neuter Project is open Tuesday through Friday, doing surgeries everyday while being open. Johnston encourages pet owners to make an appointment for low-cost spaying and neutering.
To make an appointment, call 573-397-6443, or schedule online.