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$137K grant for free spay-neuter surgeries

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Boerne's Hill Country Animal League (HCAL) has collaborated with PetSmart Charities on a new Community Pet Project, a targeted spay-neuter project designed for rural areas with a high density of residents and quantity of pets at large.
According to Jackie Palmer, HCAL president, a grant of $137,611 has been awarded to the HCAL, enabling the clinic to perform free spay and neuter procedures on 1,200 companion animals from Bandera County. "Bandera County is one of only 30 recipients of PetSmart community grants nationwide," Palmer said. The grant will be in effect for one year.
That's the good news.
The less than good news is that the grant is earmarked only for dogs and cats from the City of Bandera, Whartons Dock, Lakehills and Pipe Creek.
"The choices were primarily due to the consistent complaints of stray dogs and cats and pregnant dogs and cats, as well as young animals at large. Spays and neuters would serve the target areas well," wrote HCAL grant writer Teresa Parker in a press release issued Monday, Sept. 7.
Additionally, the grant also provides for a limited number of sterilizations on feral cats, which some refer to as "porch cats."
For residents of unincorporated parts of Bandera Ccounty not covered by the PetSmart Charities grant, HCAL offers low cost procedures - $60 for cats and $110 for dogs for dogs less than 80 pounds and $175 for dogs larger than 80 pounds.
Local officials who assisted with securing the grant included Mayor John Hegemier; Councilman Jim Hannah; and Sandra Schott, who serves as community liaison for the Bandera County Animal Control, as well as residents in targeted areas covered by the grant.
According to Parker, Hegemier, Hannah, Schott and City Administrator Lamar Schulz will spearhead the effort on this end - primarily through educational efforts. In an interview, Hegemier said that city officials are in the rudimentary stages of formulating ways to transport companion animals to Boerne for residents who are without access to vehicles. When this effort is finalized, the Courier will publish details.
In an interview, Schott said she had provided figures on the number of dogs impounded from the target areas of Pipe Creek, Whartons Dock and Lakehills. "The numbers from other areas of the county such as Medina and Tarpley are not nearly as high," she said.
The 2014 numbers Schott submitted to Parker for dogs returned to owners or adopted included:
• Pipe Creek, 98
• 101 Bandera, 101
• Lakehills, 52
• Whartons Dock, 42
• Tarpley, 18
• Outside of Bandera County, 23.
In addition to the low cost spay-neuter procedures for county residents not in the focus areas, the HCAL also provides special prices for low-income pet owners. Pet owners who believe they might be are eligible for special rates should call HCAL at 830-249-2341 for more information.
Since its founding in 1986, the HCAL has provided over 50,000 spay-neuter services. Staff, administrators, veterinarians and volunteers strive to minimize the overpopulation of unwanted dogs and cats in the greater Hill Country area by offering affordable spay-neuter and preventive care services - especially to citizens in need. The mission is supported by grants, private donations and proceeds from the HCAL Thrift Shop, located at 115 West Bandera in Boerne.
Pet owners in the City of Bandera, Pipe Creek, Whartons Dock and Lakehills are urged to call HCAL at 830-249-2341 or email appointmentdesk@hcaltx.org to schedule a free spay-neuter surgery. If emailing, allow 24 hours for a response. Pets can be dropped off and picked up the same day. The grant covers sedation, surgery, pain medication and rabies vaccinations.
HCAL clinic hours are 7:30 am to 5 pm, Monday through Thursday. However, clinic "rush" times are from 7:30 am to 9 am for intake of animals scheduled for surgery that day and from 3 pm to 4 when that day's surgical cases are being discharged.
In an interview, Palmer noted that even before a formal announcement of the grant had been made, HCAL veterinarians had performed 76 spay and neuter procedures on Bandera County animals in the focus areas in just six days. "The need is clearly out there," she said, "and, we're here to help in any way we can."