Group Uses Spay and Neuter Assistance to Lower Animal Shelter Intake

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HARRISONBURG,Va. (WHSV)-- The Harrisonburg-Rockingham County SPCA is taking in more cats from the friendly city alone.

Animal advocates said it starts with helping pet owners before they give their pets up because of issues.

"A lot of people treat cats like they're disposable. Cats really need to be spayed and neutered so that there's no extra kittens," said Laura Mellin of Cat's Cradle.

Mellin came to Cat's Cradle to try to find a home for a stray kitten that is now headed to a rescue group in New York. But Mellin said it starts before scrambling to find a stray a home.

"We wouldn't have her on our deck if someone made sure to spay and neuter their other cat," said Mellin.

According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, fewer cats are being euthanized at the Harrisonburg SPCA. The group currently euthanizes about 71 % of cats.

"Cats that are going to the Harrisonburg SPCA and it illustrates how there's, 2011, 736 cats, going in, in 2012, 734, and then 2014 it's gone up to 767," said Matt Chan of Cat's Cradle.

At the SPCA people who adopt cats have to pay a deposit on top of the adoption fee to ensure they will take responsibility and spay and neuter. However, the SPCA does not offer spay and neuter assistance to outside animals.

"Any animal adopted from the SPCA has to be spayed or neutered by Virginia state law, and we also have a small fund of money that we can use in the community to spay and neuter pets," said Anne Anderson, who is the executive director at Rockingham-Harrisonburg SPCA.

With hundreds of cats being surrendered to shelters, Cat's Cradle is stepping up to help before it reaches that point.

"The issue is a lot of people can't afford spay and neuter, and that's where we step in," said Chan.

Cat's Cradle helps with spay neuter assistance, cat behavorial advice and trapping and releasing wild cats to spay and neuter them.

"And that's going to reduce unwanted litters that end up at the shelter to ultimately be euthanized if they can't be adopted out," said Chan.

It's an effort animal advocates hope will leave a lasting impact.