The new program provides low-income residents with reduced rates for spaying and neutering of domestic cats. Eligible residents who pass a means test will pay $100 to neuter or $125 to spay a domestic cat at a participating animal hospital.
The means test will be administered by Greater Sudbury Compliance and Enforcement Services.
“It’s our hope that we can decrease the number of unwanted litters by offering subsidies to cat owners who would otherwise be unable to afford the spay or neuter procedure,” Darlene Barker, the city's manager of Compliance and Enforcement Services, said in a release Wednesday. “Cats far outnumber dogs in our local pound and they are much less likely to be adopted or reunited with their owners.”
The new program is the result of talks between city and the organization representing Sudbury's veterinarians, who sprung into action last summer when the OSPCA offered to open a low-cost spay and neuter clinic in Sudbury.
Association president Chad Wilkinson said the quality of care pets receive in Sudbury would be affected if the city approved the plan for a low-cost spay and neuter clinic.
He said such clinics emphasize numbers over quality of care. And he said local vets would be hurt by the loss of business.
“We could never compete with that cost,” he said in April. “There will be layoffs, there will be negative impacts on some practices that the city will have to deal with in the big picture.
The OSPCA offer came last spring at the start of budget talks, and would have required the city to provide a building for the clinic at a discounted rate. The vets asked for more time to come up with a counter proposal, and by the time they met again in summer, the OSPCA had withdrawn its offer, citing competing priorities as the reason.
The old program offered discount coupons for surgeries for cats or dogs, available on a first come, first served basis. In 2012, the city spent $55,395 on the program, resulting in the sterilization of about 570 cats and dogs.
Under the plan put forward by the vets last summer, coupons now will be available for cats only, and rather than first come first served, the program guarantees assistance to residents with low incomes.
To qualify, applicants must provide proof of that they are in receipt of assistance through the Guaranteed Income Supplement, Ontario Disability Support Program, the Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefit or Ontario Works. Those receiving assistance through the SafePet Program administered by Ontario’s Violence Against Women Shelters are also eligible for the subsidy.