Local animal non-profit group seeks help

Published on Wed, Jan 19, 2011 by By Tara Nelson

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A local organization that performed thousands of free and low-cost pet surgeries during the last two years is looking for donations to stay in business after losing one of its major funding sources.

The Whatcom Education, Spay & Neuter Impact Program (WeSNIP) program will need approximately $200,000 to operate their Spay Station mobile spay and neuter van in underserved areas of Whatcom County during the year ahead, director Patricia Maass said.

The organization offers free and low-cost spay and neutering to pets with owners who qualify and has helped reduce euthanasia rates for Whatcom County dogs and cats by as much as 50 percent. But when one of their major donors pulled their funding for the Spay Station last year, WeSNIP organizers were left scrambling to find resources to continue.

“The loss of funding really has nothing to do with us,” Maass said. “We were told there were changes to the board and one of the donors that provided a substantial amount withdrew their funding. So we’ve gone from full funding to nothing with an organization that’s not even set up to take donations, and we’ve had to get together and figure out how to get it known to raise funds.”

Maass said the organization had enjoyed a tremendous success because they started making inroads to people who had truly limited resources.

Where most organizations serve the populations that seek them out, Maass said WeSNIP did outreach to find a level of customers who are without transportation, live in very rural areas, can’t read well or have developmental issues.

“Those are the customers who really need to be served,” she said. “Some people think those people are purposefully neglectful but what I’ve found is there is a lack of education about pet care, especially in the rural communities. If you have 15 cats and your  house smells, you are not likely to go to the vet and ask questions. Some people don’t know how to ask for help. So we started offering a 24-hour manned phone and advertising through flyering – especially in the Kendall area where there are no cell phone towers.”

WeSNIP volunteer Joy Moore said between the organization’s foster care program and spay and neuter program, they have saved more than 500 cats from euthanization in 2009.

And with female cats breeding an average of six times a year with an average of four to six kittens per litter, Moore said the feral cat problem is growing exponentially. “That’s why we’re in business,” she said. “If you figure that all of those kittens will have kittens, it’s just staggering.”

Their mobile spay and neutering unit was leased at no cost by Pasado Animal Rescue organization in Arlington, which had supplied a grant for WeSNIP to operate the van in 2009.

Moore said Pasado has agreed to lease the Spay Station to WeSNIP at no cost, but the organization has to raise their own funds to run it.

As a result, Moore said they have started a “multi-pronged fundraising plan,” which involves garage sales, grant applications and creating a variety of programs through which individuals can donate.

One of those methods involves their “$10 club” which allows individuals to donate directly each month from their checking, savings or credit card accounts.

Maass said the organization is taking two months off to come up with a plan. Maass said it costs between $1,500 and $1,800 per month to run the spay station, which performs 24 surgeries per day and accommodates one veterinarian, one veterinary technician, two vet assistants, as well as a part-time coordinator and driver. Their efforts are off to a healthy start, Maass said. Since December, the organization has raised almost $10,000 in donations as well as a $5,000 grant.

She added they have at least four other grant applications pending, and they should know if they will be approved by the end of January.

In the meantime, Maass said individuals can also take donated clothing to consignment stores such as Labels and Clothes Rack in Bellingham and ask the money to be donated to WeSNIP.

To donate directly to WeSNIP, e-mail yeswesnip@gmail.com or call 360/733-6549. For more information, visit wesnip.org.
Other animal resources

• The Whatcom Humane Society rescues stray and abandoned animals and offers assistance to qualifying low-income pet owners. Their phone number is 733-2080.

• The Whatcom Alternative Humane Society is a volunteer non-profit organization that practices a no-kill philosophy. They can be reached by calling 671-7445.

• Old Dog Haven rescues homeless and abandoned senior dogs and helps them find new homes. They can be reached at 360/653-0311.