HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Animal shelters and rescue organizations across the U.S. have been operating in crisis mode for months due to a surge in the homeless pet population, and Huntsville Animal Services is no exception. The good news is that there is a simple path toward a solution – spaying and neutering pets.
“We used to take in 7-10 [animals] on a typical day,” said Animal Services Director Dr. Karen Sheppard. “Lately, it’s common for us to take in 25 or more in a single day. A few weeks ago, we took in 34 in just one day.”
While the need for adopters and foster homes is still there, another need exists that has a direct impact on the number of homeless animals in the city.
If getting a pet fixed is cost-prohibitive, there are several ways to get a lower-cost, income-based spay/neuter procedure. Huntsville pet owners who are on state or federal subsidized assistance or have an adjusted gross annual income of $35,000 or less qualify for the Fixin’ Alabama Spay/Neuter Program.
"It helps people that want to get their pets fixed, dogs and cats, " Dr. Sheppard said. "You pay five-dollar copay and then you work with one of our veterinarians in the community, and they spay your pet or neuter the pet and they give it a rabies vaccination. Also, your license, your lifetime licenses, then is free on the pet."
Qualifying pet owners can go to Huntsville Animal Services at 4950 Triana Blvd. SW, show proof of eligibility (e.g., Medicaid, Disability, EBT, WIC, tax documents) and get a voucher. They can then contact a participating veterinary office to schedule the spay/neuter surgery and remit the voucher. The pet owner will also receive a free lifetime license for the newly spayed/neutered pet.
"We're trying to reduce the number of homeless pets," Dr. Sheppard said. "Every year we get in so many homeless dogs, and so many homeless cats, so we're trying to make sure we're helping the people that do want to get their pets fixed."
Additionally, Spay/Neuter Action Project (SNAP) assists with low-cost spay/neuter procedures for eligible pet owners in Madison County.
Anyone interested in adopting a spayed or neutered animal should visit Huntsville Animal Services. Adoptable pets are also vaccinated, microchipped and come with a city license and free bag of pet food. Those unable to adopt are asked to consider fostering an animal through the shelter’s foster program.