“We're trying to teach people how you care for animals is how you end up treating humans,” Jean Atthouse, one of the founders of the Montana Spay/Neuter Task Force said.
The task force is making another round to Glasgow on Friday, July 18, and Saturday, July 19. They'll show up at the Valley Event Center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with one main mission in mind, to spay or neuter cats and dogs that wouldn't normally get a vet visit. While that's their main goal in mind, they actually hope that the people learn to care and have more compassion for the animals they help.
The event has already begun to fill up with appointments. Most of the slots open for cats are already full. Appointments aren't required, but preferred as several animals will pour into the clinic. The idea for these spay and neuter procedures is to help slow down the cat and dog populations that can often leave strays who might starve or suffer. It might also improve the life of animals who would otherwise end up birthing several litters.
“It's low cost, or no cost to assist those who need the help and can't afford to spay or neuter their animals,” Atthouse said. “We're not trying to compete with local veterinarians; we're trying to find the animals that may never see a vet their entire lives.”
The funds come from several foundations, grants and donations. Some of the funds comes from the Sands Foundation out of Havre, which has supported the task force since the beginning almost two decades ago. The Montana SHARES program also helps give funds for the cause. But one of the best fundraisers for the task force is a license plate sold to driver's in the state.
Atthouse explained that Valley County has one of the best facilities to use for its clinic and that the local volunteers are compassionate and dedicated in Glasgow. She explained that while they spay and neuter animals, they are also collecting data to help track the success of their program.
Records aren't kept everywhere they hold their clinics, but urban areas have seen around a 19 percent drop in animals impounded and a 24 percent drop in animals destroyed. Dog bites in some areas have dropped around 33 percent. They've recorded those numbers continuing to drop after two years of visits.
While Glasgow's statistics weren't readily available, Atthouse explained that a barnstorming that took place in the Opheim area helped make a decent impact to stray cats in the area. In 2011, the task force helped spay and neuter 186 semi-feral barn cats. The average age of animals they see are between 1 and 3 years old. She explained that in one case they had a 9-year-old dog that had 16 litters before the surgery, which is very hard on an animal.
“Surgery for the younger animals is easier on the vets and on the patients,” Atthouse said.
Local coordinators Marisa Lipsey and Cindy Ramsbacher explained that the event is coordinated with the help of several volunteers and others who donate the use of equipment, towels, sheets and microwaves. They are in need of a few microwaves to borrow during the event. Lipsey also said that towels, blankets and other materials are always welcome for donations. Lipsey and Ramsbacher reiterated that the clinic is for those who couldn't afford the procedure otherwise.
Lipsey got involved in 2010 and said that she has a passion toward the cause to help prevent animals from getting sick, or dying. She helped with the barnstorming in northern Valley County. Rambascher shares some of that same passion and explained that they've seen the cat population go down after the first year in the county. She also urged people to get shots for their animals if possible before the clinic.
“It's better if the shots are already done, as they come into an area where they'll be exposed to several other animals it could help stop the spread of infectious diseases,” Rambascher said.
She added that they are still looking for volunteers, in particular on the Saturday the event will take place. Kids and adults of all ages are welcome to help comfort animals, check people in and work on cleanup during the event. She explained that the volunteers will gain experience and help the community during the event.
The event will hopefully raise awareness for pet owners and the community on the importance of the welfare of local animals and encourage the community to help with the problems of overpopulation and respecting animals.
For those interested in volunteering or scheduling an appointment, call Ramsbacher at 406-263-9255 or Lipsey at 406-552-9154. You can also call the Montana Spay/Neuter Task Force at 406-640-3182.