WeSNiP, which incorporated and achieved non-profit501(C)3 status in 2008, began high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter service in August of 2008.
In the four-plus years since its inception, WeSNiP has changed thousands of lives.
WeSNiP performed its 10,000th surgery on June 7th, 2012 - but it took years of community outreach to attain this milestone.
“We thought at first that people would come running when we offered free spay and neuter services, but many people didn’t want anyone to know how many pets they had," stated Program Coordinator Patricia Maass.
WeSNiP's program grew slowly, largely through word of mouth and community outreach.
"I'll stop by with some cat food and visit. They’ll start asking questions and telling their neighbors," Maass explained.
"They’ll come and bring you one animal and learn that we’re trustworthy, and then they’ll bring back more pets. That’s how we work – we’re grassroots."
And this grassroots organization has been providing hope and help to those who need it most.
“WeSNiP serves those who would otherwise not have access to spay and neuter services for their pets,” Maass stated.
Many people are in rural areas. They’re barely making it, so they can’t afford to spay and neuter.
Many of our customers can’t get to us. Some are disabled or have developmental issues that keep them from bringing their animals in. So we have to get to them.
A high percentage of people – if it’s convenient and cheap enough – will get their animals spayed and neutered,” Maass added.
While WeSNiP mainly serves low-income pet owners, they recognize that but other people are in need of their services, as well.
"Some people are having pets dumped on their property repeatedly," Maass stated.
"They can’t afford to keep having these animals spayed and neutered. So we help them, too.
We want to give people the ability to avoid doing desperate things, like taking them to the shelter, dumping them at another property, or putting them in a dumpster."
WeSNiP's efforts have made a dramatic impact on Whatcom County's euthanasia rates.
"At the Humane Society from 2008 through 2011, the euthanasia of healthy, adoptable cats for lack of space was down 79%.
For dogs, it was down 82%. The euthanasia of unweaned kittens was down 75%.
Unweaned puppies hadn’t been euthanized for 2.5 years, but there was a parvo outbreak and 15 were euthanized as a result.
Education continues to expand as we do more spays and neuters."
WeSNiP has seen a significant increase in feral cat spay and neuters, as well.
"We spayed and neutered 725 feral cats in 2012, up from 178 in 2011. We received some grants for trap neuter return and bought 40 traps," Maass stated.
WeSNiP looks forward to 2013 as a banner year for all animals, whether they are pets or feral animals.
“It wasn’t originally our plan to focus on trap-neuter-return (TNR), but it has become part of how the organization has to evolve," Maass stated.
WeSNiP hopes to continue seeking out those who need their services, determining how to best help them.
"It’s about practicality – we ask people what they most want. I was at a dairy farm and asked the farmer what he didn’t like about having the cats around.
The farmer wanted the cats to stop spraying in the calf barn. We told him that we’d help stop that," Maass explained.
No project is too large for this organization, either.
"One of the first ladies we helped was feeding 50 cats," Maass recalled.
We told her that we would fix all of the cats and return them. We told her that the population would decrease over time.
I ran into her months afterward – she said that she had a lot fewer cats. They quit having kittens."
Maass recalled another client who was doing his best to care for his ailing pets.
"At one trailer, there were two ducks and 12 cats outside," she stated.
The trailer owner also had one dozen indoor cats. In the trailer, there was a mom with new kittens. She had an abscess in her mouth. He had been draining it with a hot needle.
I told him that we would come in the morning, take the mom and babies, and take them to the vet to help them.
WeSNiP aims to maintain a good relationship with the Humane Society, Washington State residents in need, and every organization in Whatcom County.
"It’s better to tell us that there’s a problem than to wait too long," Maass stated. "It’s about outreach – and about giving information without being judgmental.
We know that if we don’t spay or neuter them, they probably won’t get it done elsewhere."
It’s our goal to end the euthanasia of healthy cats and dogs in Whatcom County. We’ve done 11,000 surgeries, mostly in Whatcom County. It’s aggressive spay-neuter."
Congratulations, WeSNiP, on your 11,000 surgeries!
Seattle Pets Examiner will feature further articles about WeSNiP and TNR throughout 2013.
If you would like to learn more about WeSNiP, visit their website.
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