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Photos by Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
Oliver recovers from surgery Saturday morning at the H.O.P.E. for Animals clinic, one of 45 male cats from New Haven ZIP code 46774 whose neutering was funded by an anonymous donation.

Neutering initiative keeps hope

Turnout low in New Haven; aim shifts to 46806

Jessica Rutledge, community cat coordinator, holds a cat while his cage is cleaned Saturday morning at the H.O.P.E. for Animals clinic.

For every person born in America, seven dogs and cats are born, according to the people at H.O.P.E. for Animals, a low-cost spay-neuter clinic on Maycrest Drive.

The result, they add, is that 4 million animals have to be euthanized every year.

If every animal, including feral cats, could be neutered, it could cut down dramatically on the cat population and just as dramatically reduce the number of animals that have to be euthanized.

On Saturday, as part of a program whose goal is to neuter every cat in New Haven, the clinic offered to neuter for free up to 100 male cats belonging to people in the 46774 ZIP code, thanks to an anonymous donation.

In a way, it was a disappointment. Only 45 cats were brought in, but the money left over means there is still cash available to put on another such free clinic in the future.

In the three years that H.O.P.E. for Animals has been in existence, it has neutered 21,000 animals, says executive director Madeleine Laird. The result, she says, is that an estimated 50,000 animals were spared from euthanasia because they were never born.

H.O.P.E. (Humane Organization to Prevent Euthanasia) normally charges $30 to $65 to neuter dogs and cats, but it is concentrating its efforts right now on the 46806 ZIP code, where people can have pit bulls fixed and vaccinated for only $5.

That ZIP code has been targeted because that is the area where the largest number of animals brought to Animal Control come from.

In New Haven, the clinic is even neutering feral cats from cat colonies. Cats that are neutered are then returned to the exact spot where they were caught.

Laird would like to have a similar program in Fort Wayne, but animals are not allowed to run free in the city, so the clinic can’t catch feral cats, neuter them and release them.

How much of an impact H.O.P.E. has had on the actual cat and dog population might be hard to measure, but it appears to be making a difference, Laird says. Last year, for the first time in 43 years, fewer animals were brought in to Animal Control than the year before.

H.O.P.E. uses two veterinarians who graduated from Purdue who recently gave up private practice to work for the clinic.