For The Madera Tribune
Tamara Shimizu, a volunteer with the Friends of the Madera Animal Shelter readies the foundation’s van for a trip to HOPE Animal Services of Fresno.
The Madera County Board of Supervisors has approved renewing a contract between the county’s Animal Services Department and HOPE Animal Services of Fresno for low-cost spay and neuter services, a program that has saved constituents from higher costs over the past seven years.
HOPE, or Halt Overpopulation with Prevention and Education, was founded in 1998 when Darrel Ridenour, CEO of Derrel’s Mini Storage, learned of the large number of dogs and cats being euthanized every day in shelters.
“It is our HOPE that through prevention and public education we can save the lives of thousands of innocent animals,” according to Derrel’s website.
Animal Services Director Kirsten Gross said regular veterinary offices perform six to 10 surgeries per day. HOPE, she said, performs up to 125 per day.
“The cost savings is phenomenal,” Gross said. At a regular vet’s office, she added, a domestic male cat can cost up to $100. At HOPE, the surgery can be as low as $35.
“We take volumes (of animals),” Gross said, adding that the Friends of the Madera Animal Shelter uses its van and transports cats and dogs four times a week. “Not only from our shelter, but the Friends transport, free of charge, to and from Fresno for those constituents using the low-cost voucher program.”
The Friends take feral cats to HOPE and release them back into the community in effort to reduce the populations. An important component, Gross said, in being able to reduce this population of wild cats was the Red and Nancy Arnold program, which dedicated $1.5 million for spay and neuter programs.
“We altered almost 20,000 animals with that funding,” Gross said. “We’re now seeing the numbers down to 5,000 last year (that ended up in the shelter) as compared to 9,000 four years ago.”
In addition to seeing far fewer animals in the shelter, the number of animals euthanized has dropped dramatically, according to the 2016 annual report, and the live release number has increased. The report shows that in 2010, 7,948 animals were impounded, 2,481 released, and 5,406 were euthanized. In 2016, 4,737 were impounded, 3,300 released and 1,307 euthanized.
“We’re a major customer of HOPE,” Gross said, adding that animals are brought to HOPE from as far south as Bakersfield. Working together, Gross added, animal services and the Friends of the Madera Animal Shelter have saved the lives of thousands of cats and dogs.