Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

May 6, 2014

Spaying and neutering effort pays off

Debbie Blank The Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — Ever wonder why you don’t see a lot of stray dogs and cats running around?

For each of the past five years, Batesville-based People Assisting Animals In Need volunteers have helped get almost 600 pets living in Ripley, Franklin, Decatur and Dearborn counties sterilized, reports President Judy Behlmer. Since beginning the initiative in April 2005, 4,719 – 3,202 cats and 1,517 dogs – have been altered thanks to the organization.

When asked how the organization has evolved since its founding in 2003, Vice President Celeste Cutter answers, “I think we’ve definitely become more focused on our low-cost spaying and neutering and not so focused on transporting large numbers of animals out East.”

Why should people get their dogs and cats sterilized? Cutter says, “If you have one momma dog and one daddy dog and they are not spayed or neutered, say they have a litter of seven. Each of those seven have another litter of seven. You’re up to over 200 dogs in no time at all.” According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, “Just one unaltered female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in only six years.”

PAAIN schedules a transport service for area pets to be spayed and neutered twice monthly, on first and third Mondays, at the United Coalition for Animals, Cincinnati, which just celebrated 60,000 surgeries. Fees are $35 for cats and $65 for dogs. Cats at least 2 months old and weighing at least 2 pounds and dog at least 4 months old are dropped off and picked up at a white building with maroon awnings at the corner of State Road 46 and Columbus Avenue, Batesville.

Owners must show proof of rabies vaccines or pay $10 for shots. UCAN also offers flea and tick treatments, deworming, annual vaccines, heartworm and feline leukemia testing, microchipping and small hernia repair. To schedule a surgery, PAAIN volunteers can be reached at 812-932-DOGS or the Web site www.paain.org.

Depending on the treasury, organizers sometimes give quantity discounts or assist low-income owners.

Just by word of mouth, “you’d be surprised how far we’re drawing people for our clinics,” including Cross Plains and Friendship.

Behlmer is noticing that the initiative to sterilize pets is making a difference. “From the beginning of PAAIN to now, the number of phone calls that we receive to say they have litters of puppies is greatly reduced.”

This month the nonprofit is hosting two events, one to help pets and the other to raise funds for many efforts. A pet vaccination clinic sponsored by Tri-County Veterinary Clinic and PAAIN is slated for Saturday, May 17, from 9-11 a.m. at Liberty Park Shelter No. 1. Vaccines: rabies one-year, $9; rabies three-year, $14; DHLPPC (protects against canine distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, parainfluenza and corona virus), $21. Wormer: $15. Persons who donate one can of dog food receive a $1 discount. Cash and checks will be accepted.

A garage sale is Friday, May 30, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday, May 31, from 8 a.m.-noon at the spay/neuter clinic dropoff building at the State Road 46-Columbus Avenue intersection. All remaining items will be donated to the Ripley County Humane Society fall sale.

Volunteers are seeking treasures to be donated for the sale by May 24. Persons with donations or who would like to help with sale setup should contact Cutter, 812-934-4875, 812-212-3439 or wcutter@etczone.com.

Of the volunteers, Behlmer observes, “We’ve got a good group.” Other officers are Secretary Nan Larson and Treasurer Elaine Brouillette. The spay and neuter coordinator is Sue Hahn, Greensburg.

Even with 10-15 active volunteers, the president notes, “We can always use volunteers for transport drives, fostering, walking dogs” (at the street department on weekends) and helping at spay and neuter and vaccination clinics.

When stray dogs and cats are picked up by the Batesville Street Department, they are kept in kennels for five business days. If unclaimed, members are invited to evaluate the dogs to determine if they are adoptable. “We do foster some and send some on to other rescue organizations,” according to Behlmer.

Last year PAAIN volunteers aided 85 dogs, she says. When they arrive, the homeless pets are spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. Twenty-five were adopted and 60 were transferred to two Cincinnati and two Chicago area nonkill facilities and rescue organizations. “We do some work with the Indianapolis Humane Society.” Cutter explains the pups are sent to cities because “they just have much higher populations to pull good homes from.”

Although mostly the group deals with dogs, “we have helped cats,” Hahn recalls. “One time we found some tiny ones the mother had abandoned. They were raised and adopted out.”

Adoption fees vary as organizers hope to recoup each animal’s expenses.

The organizers recount recent heartwarming stories. An abandoned and malnourished Papillon and Chihauhau mix was picked up by a street department worker. Max was adopted by a middle-aged couple in western Decatur County looking for a small house dog. They encountered a grandchild sharing dog food with the pup.

After a puggle was shot locally, its leg had to be amputated at PAAIN’s expense. The dog was rehabbed and is now living with another puggle and two attorneys in Chicago.

Two 10-day-old puppies born in January in Sunman were bottle fed by members until they were strong enough to be claimed by Chicago families.

Now six dogs are in PAAIN’s care, waiting for permanent homes – five boxer-beagle mix puppies (please see photo) and a tri-colored 3-year-old male beagle named Mr. Jones.

Members are trying to facilitate more local adoptions. “We want to do the best for the pets here in southern Indiana,” the vice president emphasizes.

Garage sale proceeds are used to pay the drop-off building rent, subsidize spay and neuter fees for those who cannot afford full prices, buy food for pet owners in need and pay for all or part of medical expenses of pets belonging to disadvantaged persons, according to Cutter.

In the past, the group has contributed dollars to upgrade the Batesville Street Department dog kennels and purchased a microchip scanner for that location so city officials can reunite pets with owners.

Last year PAAIN donated money to humane societies in Ripley, Franklin and Decatur counties. Dollars also were given to the Scottsburg society for gas for its van, which transports dogs from southeastern Indiana shelters to a new Chicago adoption facility.

“It’s our donors who keep us doing what we love to do,” Behlmer says. Persons who want to contribute may make tax-deductible donations through PayPal on the Web site or mail checks to PAAIN, P.O. Box 141, Batesville, IN 47006.

Debbie Blank can be contacted at debbie.blank@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.

How to track down a lost pet • If someone has lost a pet within Batesville city limits, PAAIN leaders recommend calling the street department first, then WRBI, local veterinarians and nearby humane societies. • To make it easy to reunite owners with pets, dogs and cats should be registered with the city through the police department for small fees (a numbered tag provides contact information); have collar tags with phone numbers; and/or be microchipped.