Five Leading Animal Welfare Organizations Give $3.2 Million Boost to Spay/Neuter Efforts in Gulf Coast Communities

ST. BERNARD PARISH, Lousiana (July 11, 2006) -- Today in St. Bernard Parish, La., the Big Fix Rig -- a traveling spay/neuter clinic for cats -- opened for business at its first stop in the state to help reduce pet overpopulation in the hurricane-ravaged region. The rig will provide low-cost services to area residents. St. Bernard Parish was one of the areas hardest hit in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina, a storm that exposed on a national level the need for vigorous population control efforts in the region.

The Big Fix Rig is part of a $3.2 million effort funded by the ASPCA, The Humane Society of the United States, PetSmart Charities, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and United Animal Nations to increase the number of affordable and accessible spay/neuter programs in the hurricane-affected areas of Louisiana and Mississippi. Local organizations Spay/Louisiana, Mississippi Spay Neuter (SPAN) and Humane Society of South Mississippi are coordinating the initiatives with the help of other local animal agencies throughout the region. The rig will go to Mississippi after its Louisiana tour.

The problem of animal overpopulation in the Gulf Coast region, where nearly 80 percent of all pets are unaltered, has long preceded Hurricane Katrina. Animal control agencies euthanize tens of thousands of healthy animals each year for lack of homes. Animal welfare groups believe this focused spay/neuter initiative will help improve the overall health and adoption prospects for all companion animals in the region.

In addition to the Big Fix Rig, the initiative provides funding for high-volume spay/neuter clinics in New Orleans and Gulfport, Miss. and for voucher programs in both states. The latter two programs will serve both cats and dogs. All told, the initiative has the capacity to fund up to 20,000 spay/neuter surgeries in the first year.

About the Big Fix Rig

  • A one-of-a-kind, 53-foot semi-trailer retro-fitted as a mobile spay/neuter clinic for cats.
  • Can accommodate 120 cat sterilizations per day.
  • Can be converted into an emergency transportation vehicle capable of housing up to 160 cats.
  • Will spend six months in Louisiana then six months in Mississippi.
  • Managed by staff from Humane Alliance, a successful and self-sustaining high-volume spay/neuter clinic in North Carolina.

About the High-volume Spay/Neuter Clinics

  • At a new 5,000-square-foot facility in Gulfport, the Humane Society of South Mississippi has the capacity to perform 6,000 spay/neuter surgeries in the first year and 16,800 in the second year of the initiative.
  • By early 2007, Spay/Louisiana will open a regional clinic in New Orleans with the capacity to perform 8,400 surgeries in the first year and 16,800 in the second year.
  • The Spay/Louisiana clinic will serve up to 25 parishes with a combined population of 2.58 million and an estimated cat and dog population of more than 1.66 million -- an estimated 221,000 of which live in households that fall below the federal poverty threshold.

About the Voucher Programs

  • Spay/Louisiana will subsidize spay/neuter surgeries performed by a designated network of veterinary hospitals and clinics. Participating veterinarians will accept a reduction in their usual fees, thereby encouraging more surgeries for pets of low-income owners.
  • Mississippi SPAN, working with the Humane Society of South Mississippi and other partners, will double the size of its existing statewide voucher program to 7,600 vouchers a year.

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