by Lorie Lewis Ham
According to Whitney Mayeda, Assistant Executive Director of H.O.P.E. in Fresno, 6,600,000 dogs received by shelters were killed last year on a nationwide basis. 8,400,000 cats taken in by shelters are killed on a nationwide basis. California spends over $250 million each year to house and care for over 1 million unwanted and abandoned pets, half of which are ultimately euthanized. In 2006, over 53,000 dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens were euthanized in the Central Valley alone. H.O.P.E. is working to change that.
On a national level, 45% of dogs and 35% of cats that enter shelters have been owned for less than a year. An estimated 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs in the United States each year. Based on national averages, a single fertile female cat and her offspring can produce over 47,000 kittens during a 5-year period, and a single fertile female dog and her offspring can produce over 65,000 puppies.
H.O.P.E. Animal Foundation—(Halt Overpopulation with Prevention and Education) in Fresno has spayed and neutered over 80,000 pets in the Valley since it began in 1999, making a huge difference in the overpopulation problem. They have also helped many more animals to be vaccinated, de-wormed, microchipped, and have basic veterinary care.
H.O.P.E. was started by a group of people who realized that simply educating the community about spay and neuter was not enough to curb pet overpopulation and euthanasia of healthy, adoptable Valley pets. “Our Board of Directors felt that a low-cost spay and neuter option was necessary to make a difference in the community,” said. Whitney.
The H.O.P.E. Clinic was completed in June of 2006. The clinic is modeled after the Humane Alliance in Asheville, NC, an organization that has helped to establish and mentor over 100 spay and neuter clinics across the nation. They average between 16,000 and 17,000 surgeries each year.
“Our mission is to help control the unwanted pet population through spaying and neutering, not killing, and to decrease the number of abandoned, injured, and abused dogs and cats through prevention and education,” continued Whitney. “It is the Foundation’s belief that through prevention (spay and neuter) and public education, we can save lives. Currently, H.O.P.E. offers low-cost spay and neuter services to the public, as well as a low-cost vaccine clinic and a wellness clinic, although the wellness clinic is for low-income pet owners only.”
According to Whitney, H.O.P.E. spays and neuters an average of 70-150 animals on a daily basis. Most of them come from the public, meaning they have owners. However, they also work with over 20 local shelters and rescue groups, like the Animal Compassion Team (ACT) of Squaw Valley, to help spay and neuter their adoptable animals.
“Nothing is as important on the road to No-Kill as affordable, high volume, spay and neuter services,” shared Joyce Brandon, one of the founders of ACT. “H.O.P.E. Animal Foundation is the first of its kind in the Valley. They are professional and outstanding at what they do. Animal Compassion Team runs the majority of their animals through H.O.P.E. because they offer a price that is affordable and even more importantly we can trust them to do a great job and we are confident that our animals are getting the highest level of care.”
Future plans at H.O.P.E. are basically to just be able to continue what they’re doing now. “All of our special programs and promotions are based on grant funding, private donors, and corporate sponsors, and we hope to be able to run even more programs and promotions to reach even more pet owners in the future,” said Whitney.
Due to the fact that they are a veterinary facility that handles owned animals, their volunteer opportunities are very limited. However, occasionally they do have outreach booths and community events where volunteers are welcome, but due to liability issues, they can’t have volunteers interacting with the animals. “The three most important ways people can help are to have their pets spayed and neutered, help spread the word about the importance of spay and neuter, and donate,” continued Whitney. Donations also help to keep their services to the public low-cost. Thanks to donations, they have not had to adjust their surgery pricing for over four years, despite the fact that the cost of supplies for the clinic have gone up an average of 3% per year.
If you would like to help, or have a pet that needs one of their services, you can contact H.O.P.E. by calling the clinic at 559-271-0209. Learn more by visiting their website, or becoming a fan on Facebook. The Clinic is open Monday – Thursday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. They are located at 5490 W. Spruce Ave. in Fresno.