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TLC Helps Overcrowded Animal Shelters through Spay-Neuter Programs

By S. Mathur

There are few things in life sadder than a stray animal, lost and unable to fend for itself. Dogs and cats have been domesticated over millenia and unlike wild animals, are no longer capable of surviving in the wild. And they fare even worse if they find themselves alone and homeless in man-made and built-up environments. Part of the problem is that the shelters are overwhelmed by sheer numbers.

Deana L. Sellens, Founder and Executive Director at Texas Litter Control (TLC), says that "Montgomery County Animal Shelter, Harris County Animal Shelter, and City of Houston BARC take in 25,000 animals per year EACH. That is 75,000 animals per year and there are 4 other shelters in Montgomery and Harris counties, so you can actually double that number. That's over 400 animals PER DAY entering into our local shelters. There is no way to adopt out 400 animals per day so over half are killed. That is a horrible tragedy."

Reducing the population is the only long-term and humane solution. Education and low-cost options are the key to a successful spay-neuter program. Sellens says "The best thing the public can do to help prevent the problem....Texas Litter Control offers low cost spay/neuter, vaccination services, heartworm testing and prevention. The key is keeping the cost down. If it comes down to feeding your children or fixing Fluffy the cat or Fido the dog, the kids are going to get dinner. It is important to keep prices where the average family can afford them."

TLC also has a $55 stray cat package for people who are feeding feral animals, and low-cost options for large breed dogs. Sellens adds that "Texas Litter Control added our second surgery table so we can increase our volume. This will allow us to put some extra money aside for free vouchers to low income individuals. We are looking at having this in place by second quarter of 2016. In the meantime, we are working with the Montgomery County Spay Neuter Project and the Homeless Pet Placement League for some free services." Also in collaboration with Montgomery County, TLC now provides a micro-chip with every surgery. Lost pets who end up in shelters have a much higher chance of being reunited with their owners if they are microchipped.

Education and outreach about low-cost spay-neuter options are important to end the suffering of lost, stray and abandoned animals. Sellens says that "TLC spends a lot of time just talking to people and trying to make sure people know the problems unwanted litters of kittens and puppies cause for the community. We have also started an intervention website called HelpMeKeepMyPet.com which is geared toward getting people to use the shelters as an absolute last resort."

Sellens also points to an aspect of the problem that most people don't care to think about: "Now let's think about the poor person that has the horrific job of killing kittens and puppies for a living. Shelter employees go into this business with the intent on helping animals. Someone has to be the one to kill them. The stress on these people is just unimaginable. I've seen euthanasia techs shaking and crying after a day of this. One shelter director told me that one of his staff drank the poison and killed himself. This is a horrible tragedy."

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