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September 2, 2009 > Ohlone Humane Society: Soon to be homeless

Ohlone Humane Society: Soon to be homeless

By Nancy Lyon

For more than five years the ForPaws Clinic, a nonprofit organization, has offered much needed low-cost sterilization of dogs, cats and rabbits to our community. ForPaws is just that - for the animals and the clinic was a longtime dream of Evonne Phelps , a devoted animal rescuer for over a quarter of a century, and now that dream is in jeopardy of fading away.

When the clinic moved from its original location in Fremont two years ago, the Tri-City Animal Shelter, overloaded with animals, recognized the need for the reasonably priced spay/neuter services offered by ForPaws and agreed to the use of the shelter clinic on a limited contractual basis while they looked for another location. That contract runs out in October and the City of Fremont legal department does not wish to renew it feeling that they have given the clinic ample opportunity to relocate. Fremont Animal Services had generously offered use of its facility but it was time to go. Ironically, the shelter spay/neuter clinic sits unused the majority of the time except for one or two days when adopted animals are altered.

ForPaws has been offered temporary use of the surgery at the East Bay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal's clinic in Dublin but the downside of the offer is that the distance from its primary service area will make it very hard, if not impossible, for many local working people to go that far and get to their workplace on time, not to mention picking up their animal before the clinic closes.

The new multi-million dollar Humane Society of the Silicon Valley facility has a Spay/Neuter Clinic but it is also at a distance. It does offer free surgeries for ferals with availability dependent on the number of applicants. Their fees for owned animals mirror high-end costs at private veterinary practices.

As of this writing there are 149 animals in the Tri-City Animal Shelter with animals often exceeding that number. The majority of incoming animals are cats, many the offspring of ferals... domestic cats that were very often abandoned and capable of reproducing. They basically become wild animals with short difficult lives and unwanted by many... far better for everyone that they are not born in the first place. Feral cat caretakers are devoted people who trap, neuter and release un-homed cats - and because ForPaws is willing to deal with ferals, working together they have made significant inroads into the number of local ferals.

Do the math and consider this: on the average a fertile cat can produce three litters in a year; average number of kittens in a feline litter: 4-6. The average number of litters a fertile dog can produce in one year: 2; the average number of puppies in a canine litter: 6-10. If the resulting animals are not spayed or neutered the numbers grow astronomically and good options for them are slim.

ForPaws has completed more than 6,600 sterilizations in its brief history. The important work they do prevents not only animal suffering but saves taxpayers a significant amount of money from impounding, housing and forcing staff to kill large numbers of unwanted animals when there are no other options.

To date, in 2009, Ohlone Humane Society through its low-cost and free spay/neuter program and using the ForPaws Clinic, has sterilized more than 500 animals both domestic and feral. We are not the only nonprofit organization that uses their service so the numbers must be well over a thousand a year.

Because ForPaws must vacate the shelter clinic in October, OHS while being inundated with requests for help has reluctantly had to slow down in the number of low-cost or free spay/neuter vouchers it is issuing while we scramble to find local veterinary support that will offer services at a fee level comparable to ForPaws.

So what is the solution? There a lot of people in our area that feel great compassion for animals - and who have funds and access to resources that the average person does not. ForPaws needs a benefactor who understands the problem and has the ability to network with others who care - in other words, "movers and shakers." They need a local suitable small building, a surgical set-up and supplies and possibly financial support to keep them going until they are re-established.

Remember - a companion animal dies every 63 seconds in California because there is no place for it to go.

Can you help put an end to this needless suffering and death? If so, please contact OHS Spay/Neuter Director Judy Canright at (510) 494-1033.

"I hope to make people realize how totally helpless animals are, how dependent on us, trusting us as a child must that we will be kind and take care of their needs... [They] are an obligation put on us, a responsibility we have no right to neglect, nor to violate by cruelty." - James Herriot, English Veterinarian and Author

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