By David Herron Mar 4, 2024 | Daily Tribune News

Income-based assistance for pets is being offered for Bartow County residents where services will be free of charge to approved applicants.

“There is currently a nationwide issue with pet overpopulation,” Reggie Nation, director of Bartow County Animal Control, said. “Studies have shown that many people that have pets are unable to afford to have them spayed or neutered, which leads to unwanted litters of pups and kittens.

“Most people seem to want to have their animals altered, but with prices for everything increasing the way they are, money is needed elsewhere in the household budget. There are only so many rescues and foster homes to house unwanted animals, and they are at capacity. The only way to truly reduce the number of animals is to spay and neuter them to prevent more litters.”

Nation explained what the selected applicants will receive.

“Approved applicants will receive a voucher to get two dogs and two cats per household altered along with rabies vaccinations, and DaPPv —parvo/distemper — vaccines for dogs and HCP vaccines for cats,” he said.

Applicants will be screened by the Bartow County Social Services. The county will use the National Poverty Guideline scale to determine eligibility. To make an appointment, individuals need to call 770-607-6196.

“We have worked tirelessly to become and remain a ‘no kill’ shelter and have been for around five years now,” Nation said. “We have implemented many new and best practices in order to achieve this goal, but again, the only way to maintain it and counter overpopulation is to spay/neuter.

“Commissioner Taylor and I have been discussing and planning for a spay/neuter program for a couple of years now, and we finally got all the pieces put together to start it up. We added a surgical suite during our recent facility remodel and found a veterinarian willing to work on-site to perform spay neuters. We began surgeries on site in December of 2023.”

Nation is thrilled to have this option for the county.

“We wanted to offer this program to improve the lives of residents and animals in Bartow County,” he said. “We are beyond pleased to finally be able to offer this assistance to the residents of Bartow County.

“We are always glad to step out and lead the way when it comes to improving our communities and we hope other counties in our state, and even nationwide, will find a way to provide help if they’re not already doing so. We are confident that in the years to come, that this endeavor will have a major impact on overpopulation and the overall well-being of our county.”

He also is looking forward to seeing how this program turns out.

“Every community desperately needs a spay/neuter program available to them,” Nation said. “To those who can afford it, we encourage them to have their animals spayed and neutered. To those who cannot afford it, we have provided an option that is free of charge and greatly beneficial to them, their animals and their community.

“Animal welfare is a sensitive and very passionate topic worldwide and is one of the most concerning challenges that every community is facing today. What do we do with all of these animals? A question often asked. The fact is that there is almost nowhere for them to go anymore.”

Nation also is thankful for the help from the Bartow government and the county’s commissioner, Steve Taylor.

“We must start decreasing the number of litters being born,” Nation said. “I’m so thankful that Commissioner Taylor has stepped forward and made it possible to begin the long process of solving the problem.

“Rescues and fosters are not the answer, adoption is not the answer, euthanizing is not the answer, only spay/neuter will solve this issue. We look forward to seeing the results of this program and the positive outcomes for all involved.”

Bryan Canty, director of the Etowah Valley Humane Society, also believes this form of assistance is a good thing to implement in Bartow.

“I think that it’s a great thing,” Canty said. “It’s theoretically impossible to rescue your way out of pet overpopulation.”

By offering “low-cost solutions” for the public,” he shared “we’re helping to reduce the number of animals being surrendered in animal control.”