Jennifer McDermott left her lab coat behind and volunteered Tuesday to lighten the load of unwanted pets at metro-area shelters.
Knocking on doors in midtown, McDermott, a veterinarian for Spay & Neuter Kansas City, joined several other people from the organization to try to get more dogs and cats fixed. They’re on track to have 6,500 pets spayed or neutered this year but they hope to get that number up to 10,000.
Dee Austin’s terrier mix, Missy, will be one of them. She had heard the knockers would be in her neighborhood near 25th Street and Wabash Avenue but she didn’t wait for them to make their way to her door. She caught up with them a few blocks away to find out where she could take her pet.
“(Missy) has her shots, but I’ve been wanting to get her spayed,” Austin said. “...So when I heard the news I said, ‘I’m going today; I’ve got to go find them.’”
The door knockers were easy to find as Spay & Neuter Kansas City executive director Michelle Rivera directed them around the neighborhood.
“With this campaign we want to do more,” Rivera said. “We’ve already seen what we can do but we know we can do more. But we can’t do it by ourselves, we have to have the community to help us and comply with getting their animals fixed and doing the right thing.”
The organization, which charges owners a sliding fee based on their income, wants to spay or neuter 1,000 pets each month until the end of the year. Rivera said that the clinic’s veterinarians are accustomed to operating on 40 to 50 pets a day, so the goal should be attainable.
“There’s a lot of folks in the area who really need our assistance that aren’t aware of us, so it helps to get out there and knock on doors and educate them so that we can provide assistance,” McDermott said.
Spay & Neuter Kansas City also has a Pet Outreach program that helps struggling owners get the things they need to keep their pets, rather than give them up to a shelter.
“We distributed about 50,000 pounds of food last year to pet owners, so we feel very strongly that that program is definitely helping, keeping animals out of the shelters, in addition to spaying and neutering animals,” Rivera said.
Rivera said spaying or neutering helps keep pets healthy, besides avoiding “accidental, unwanted litters” that may otherwise become strays.
Pets can be spayed or neutered as early as eight weeks old, but as long as they are in good health and not in their golden years, they should recover quickly and easily, Rivera said.
“Shelters are already overburdened with thousands of animals entering the shelter every year,” she said. “If we can get more people to spay and neuter their animals it’s going to decrease the shelter intake at our local shelter, therefore giving those animals a better chance at finding a new home.”
A neighbor of Austin’s, Byron Curry, planned to have his male and female dogs fixed earlier. When he brought them to the clinic, though, he learned it was too late for Cocoa, who is expecting a litter of puppies any day now. He plans to spay her after she gives birth.
“It’s a big deal,” Curry said.