MADERA COUNTY – On Tuesday, Sept. 19, the Madera County Board of Supervisors approved renewing a contract between the County’s Animal Services Department and HOPE Animal Services of Fresno for low-cost spay and neuter services, a program that the County says has saved constituents from higher costs over the past seven years.
HOPE, or Halt Overpopulation with Prevention and Education, was founded in 1998 when Darrel Ridenour, CEO of Derrel’s Mini Storage, learned of the large number of dogs and cats being euthanized every day in shelters.
“It is our HOPE that through prevention and public education we can save the lives of thousands of innocent animals,” says Derrel’s on their website.
Animal Services Director Kirsten Gross said regular veterinary offices perform 6 to 10 surgeries per day. HOPE, she said, performs up to 125 per day.
All dogs and cats that are adopted are required by Food and Ag. Code 30503(a)(1) and 31751.3.(a)(1) to be spayed or neutered, and County staff says the Hope Animal Foundation is the least expensive veterinary hospital for these services.
“Over 1,300 animals were adopted in 2016 and the majority had their sterilization surgeries at Hope Animal Foundation. The average costs associated with spay/neuter is $6500 per month which relates to 50 – 100 surgeries per month.”
“The cost savings is phenomenal,” says Gross, who notes that at a regular vet’s office, a neutering of a domestic male cat can cost up to $100. At HOPE, the surgery can be as low as $35.
“We take volumes of animals,” Gross said, adding that the Friends of the Madera Animal Shelter uses its van and transports cats and dogs four times a week. “Not only from our shelter, but the Friends transport, free of charge, to and from Fresno for those constituents using the low-cost voucher program.”
The Friends take feral cats to HOPE to be spayed or neutered, and release them back into the community in an effort to reduce the populations. An important component in being able to reduce this population of wild cats was the Red and Nancy Arnold program, which dedicated $1.5 million for spay and neuter programs, says Gross.
“We altered almost twenty thousand animals with that funding,” says Gross. “We’re now seeing the numbers of those who ended up in shelters down to 5,000 last year, as compared to 9,000 four years ago.”
Gross says that in addition to seeing far fewer animals in the shelter, the number of animals euthanized has dropped dramatically, according to the 2016 annual report, and the live release number has increased. The report shows that in 2010, 7,948 animals were impounded, 2,481 released, and 5,406 were euthanized. In 2016, 4,737 were impounded, 3,300 released and 1,307 euthanized.
“We’re a major customer of HOPE,” Gross said, adding that animals are brought to HOPE from as far south as Bakersfield. “Working together, animal services and the Friends of the Madera Animal Shelter have saved the lives of thousands of cats and dogs.”
H.O.P.E. Mission Statement:
H.O.P.E. Animal Foundation (Halt Overpopulation with Prevention and Education) was founded in 1998 in response to the growing concern over the vast numbers of dogs, cats, puppies and kittens put to death in shelters every day. In fact, California spends over $250 million each year to care for over 1 million unwanted and abandoned pets. Sadly, more than half of those animals are ultimately euthanized.
H.O.P.E. decided to build a clinic rather than a shelter because spay and neuter plays a key role in reducing pet overpopulation and, in turn, saving the lives of animals.
The state of the art H.O.P.E. Clinic is the largest in the Central Valley. Since our grand opening in June of 2006, we have altered over 160,000 dogs and cats. We work with over a dozen local agencies to spay and neuter dogs all over the Central Valley through regular transports. In addition, through the media and community outreach, we work to educate the public to be responsible pet owners.
Our mission is to help control the unwanted pet population through spaying and neutering, not killing, and to decrease the number of abandoned, injured, and abused dogs and cats through prevention and education. It is the Foundation’s belief that through prevention (spay and neuter) and public education, we can save lives.
To learn more about H.O.P.E., visit their website at http://www.hopeaf.com.