Gulf Coast Windfall for Spay/Neuter Programs

On Tuesday " the Big Fix Rig" - a traveling spay/neuter clinic for cats - opened in Louisiana at its first stop in the state to help reduce pet overpopulation in the hurricane-ravaged region. The rig will provide low-cost services to area residents.

St. Bernard Parish was one of the areas hardest hit in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina, a storm that exposed on a national level the need for vigorous population control efforts in the region.

The Big Fix Rig is part of a $3.2 million effort funded by the ASPCA, The Humane Society of the United States, PetSmart Charities, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and United Animal Nations to increase the number of affordable and accessible spay/neuter programs in the hurricane-affected areas of Louisiana and Mississippi. Local organizations Spay/Louisiana, Mississippi Spay Neuter (SPAN) and Humane Society of South Mississippi are coordinating the initiatives with the help of other local animal agencies throughout the region. The rig will go to Mississippi after its Louisiana tour.

The problem of animal overpopulation in the Gulf Coast region, where nearly 80 percent of all pets are unaltered, has long preceded Hurricane Katrina. Animal control agencies euthanize tens of thousands of healthy animals each year for lack of homes. Animal welfare groups believe this focused spay/neuter initiative will help improve the overall health and adoption prospects for all companion animals in the region.

In addition to the Big Fix Rig, the initiative provides funding for high-volume spay/neuter clinics in New Orleans and Gulfport, Miss. and for voucher programs in both states. The latter two programs will serve both cats and dogs. All told, the initiative has the capacity to fund up to 20,000 spay/neuter surgeries in the first year.

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