In honor of February being Spay and Neuter Awareness Month, the Coweta Animal Shelter is providing 100 Coweta residents and their pets with reduced spay and neuter vouchers through Spay Oklahoma.
The vouchers are part of the Oklahoma Alliance For Animal’s “HiptoSnip” campaign and will cover the cost of each spay and neuter procedure after an initial $20 copay, according to Coweta Animal Control Officer Phyllis Baucom.
“My goal is honestly to try and get every animal that we possibly can fixed,” said Baucom. “I want to try to help as many people and as many animals as possible. I know people who have wanted to spay and neuter their pets, but just don’t have the money. I understand it’s expensive, but $20 is nothing compared to what it could be.”
Coweta residents must live within city limits and have a household income of less than $45,000 a year to be eligible for a voucher, which can be obtained by contacting Baucom on Facebook under “Coweta Shelter” or by dialing 918-279-7204.
Once residents obtain a voucher, they must contact Spay Oklahoma at 918-728-3144 to make an appointment.
Baucom has already given out 15 vouchers and noted that though the form says it must be used in 30 days, she is willing to update the date on any voucher to help residents schedule the procedure.
“They can only use it with Spay Oklahoma and I’m keeping records of everybody that I sent a voucher to. If they’re not using it, I’m going to contact them and see what I can do to help them use it. My goal is for every single one of these to be used,” said Baucom.
Dogs and cats big and small are eligible for spay or neuter procedures as long as they weigh over two pounds and are preferably around six months of age.
Animals with underlying health conditions are not recommended to get the procedure.
“Everybody will be happier,” said Baucom. “The last thing I ever want to do is put an animal down because we don’t have room. That’s ridiculous. The city doesn’t want that to happen. My adoption rate is great. My rescue rate is great. We don’t ever put an animal down unless it is extremely vicious.”
The impact of spaying and neutering your pets cannot be understated, according to Baucom.
“Female dogs can come into heat twice a year, especially in large breeds. We’re talking sometimes 10 to 12 puppies a litter. Then the cycle continues unless we stop it. If we can, that’s a lot of animals that aren’t being reproduced or out there being mistreated or becoming strays that start reproducing themselves.”
Baucom also noted that there are several health benefits to spaying and neutering your pets.
“The earlier you can get them fixed, the better. It can reduce the risk of cancer in both cats and dogs. Your pet can have a longer, healthier life. You’re not going to have male dogs marking their territory or male cats spraying in your home. I just feel anyone is doing their animal a disservice if they do not get them fixed,” she said.
Coweta residents are legally only allowed three animals within city limits and Baucom discourages breeding pets if residents want to help fight the pet overpopulation crisis in Oklahoma.
“They don’t really need to be breeding animals to sell puppies and things like that. That’s not smart because you end up with all these puppies. You’re just really creating more of a problem by putting more animals out there. The last thing we need is a bunch of litters everywhere, but unfortunately that’s what happens.”
Baucom is hoping that efforts to encourage spaying and neutering will lead to fewer animals ending up in the shelter, which can see up to 300 lost and stray animals annually.
“You’re literally saving lives if you do this,” she said. “It allows me to take care of the animals I already have and find their forever homes. I think I do a really good job because I get updates all the time from people. They’ll send me pictures and it just makes my heart sing. It’s my life and I love it.”