The plan would offer cheaper operations – $100-$125 — to cat owners who can pass a means test. Staff in the city’s bylaw department will administer the tests, in which lower-income residents must prove they are eligible by showing, for example, that they live in subsidized housing or receive other forms of government support.
It will replace the current program, which costs about $50,000 a year and offers coupons for cheaper spay and neuter operations. However, those coupons are given out on a first-come, first-served basis, meaning people with lower incomes aren’t necessarily benefiting.
In a release, the head of the Rainbow District Animal Shelter welcomed the new approach, since the current system wasn’t working.
“In the 10 years the current spay/neuter voucher program has been in place, no appreciable impact was made on the number of unwanted pets brought to the shelter,” said the release from Richard Paquette, manager of the shelter. “We hope this program will have a measurable impact on cat overpopulation.”
The previous spay and neuter program failed to stop the growth in the number of unwanted pets being killed each year in Greater Sudbury, especially cats. In 2005, for example, 291 cats and 75 dogs were euthanized in the city. That compares to 465 and 100 respectively in 2012.
The Sudbury Veterinarians’ Association’s plan became the preferred option after the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals withdrew its offer to open and run a low-cost spay and neuter clinic in Sudbury, modelled on one that operates in Barrie.
In her report to the finance committee on Tuesday, Darlene Barker, the city’s manager of bylaw enforcement, said the OSPCA withdrew its offer because it has other local priorities.
“Staff have learned through recent conversations with the director of Animal Welfare and Operations at the OSPCA that they are no longer interested in a partnership with the city,” her report said.
“It was explained to staff that the OSPCA is expending all its resources at this time to retrofit a new facility in Sudbury for the sheltering and adoptions of animals in their care.”
At a finance committee meeting last month, local veterinarian Darren Stinson said the current program means people in “BMWs” who clearly don’t need subsidies pull up to vet offices, with coupons in hand. It would make more sense, Stinson said, for pet owners to prove they need a subsidy.
Their plan is restricted to cats, he told the committee, because “there’s not an (overpopulation) problem with dogs.”