If you have a pet you know how expensive it can be to take it to a veterinarian. For some people in KELOLAND that's an expense they can't afford. But a new Sioux Falls program is helping some pet owners and their four-legged friends for free.
The cost of spaying or neutering a cat or dog can run anywhere between $70 and nearly $200 and for many families that price isn't in their budget.
"The cost of neutering is one of those one-time-only expenses that maybe challenging," Tanya Beckman said.
That added expense can be especially challenging for those who have low incomes. But a new program called the Sioux Falls Spay Neuter Incentive Program or SNIP is helping with spay or neuter assistance at virtually no cost to the pet owner.
"There are a lot of responsible pet owners who are maybe struggling right now and if we can help prevent unwanted or an accidental litter, that's all the better," Beckman said.
Beckman is with the program and says the hard work putting this program together has paid off.
"We've been working on it for the last couple of months and January actually starts our first month of offering the service to pet owners in Sioux Falls," Beckman said.
SNIP was developed by the South Dakota Coalition for Companion Animals in partnership with Almost Home Canine Rescue. Right now the program has enough money to cover 5 spays or neuters per month for up to a year.
"Hoping to see this grow," Beckman said.
The first animal taking advantage of the program is Alfonzo the cat.
"It's very exciting and we're really glad it's here in Sioux Falls," Kimberly St. John said.
Alfonzo was brought to a KELOLAND abuse shelter not fixed. He came in with his owner after she took him from the abusive house she left.
"She called me and said I have this cat. The family is using the cat against us saying if we leave they're going to throw the cat out and cause bodily harm," St. John said.
The director of the shelter, Kimberly St. John, agreed to let the cat stay at the women's shelter.
"A lot of women who leave violent situations are often leaving their animals behind, it's just starting to become known that animals are a part of the family," St. John said.
After completing a quick application, Alfonzo has been approved to get neutered for free through the SNIP program.
"We were waiting for him to come to the age when he can get neutered and so now we just need to make him an appointment and he'll be good to go," St. John said.
The group is also trying to get the word out that fixing your pet has its benefits, including preventing various cancers and behavior problems.
"So if people are struggling to train their pet there could be something that could be eased with training if they don't have that hormonal influence," Beckman said.
And, if you live in Sioux Falls, it might save you money in the long run.
"It does end up coming out of the taxpayers pockets when were dealing with unneutered males roaming around that animal control is trying to catch or a dog bite situation or maybe a dog has a more tenacious personality not be neutered," Beckman said.
But to keep the program running in the future donations are needed.
"As the word gets out, we're hoping more and more donations to keep it going," Beckman said.
And that could help more families who need it.
"Knowing there is a program out there that will help them, I think it will lessen the stress on the mothers and fathers and essentially the whole family," St. John said.
To apply for the SNIP program you can visit the South Dakota Coalition for Companion Animals
Almost Home is accepting donations. If you'd like to help go to their Web site.
© 2010 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.