What the Inner City Kitties Program Is:
The Inner City Kitties program provides free, mobile spay/neuter services to the cats of low-income Kent County residents. The service is provided by the Spay/Neuter Express, a mobile spay/neuter clinic, and the program is funded by donations to Vicky's Pet Connection. This program plays a critical role in reducing the suffering of unwanted animals and encouraging responsible pet ownership.
Who the Program Can Help:
If you are a low-income Kent County resident who needs help in spaying or neutering a cat, you are eligible to take advantage of this program.
How You Can Help the Program:
You can help the Inner City Kitties Spay and Neuter Program provide spay and neuter services for cats belonging to low-income Grand Rapids residents. Please consider making a donation to help us continue this important program.
Donation checks can be made out to "Vicky's Pet Connection" and sent to:
Inner City Kitties Spay and Neuter Program
c/o Vicky's Pet Connection
PO Box 624
Ada, MI 49301
You can also support the program through your donation of pop cans. Just drop them off in one of the barrels outside the Critter Cottage, our adoption center at 7205 Thornapple River Road in Ada. "The Pop Can Kids," a group of local children who collect pop cans on behalf of Vicky's Pet Connection, will cash them in for us. (They've already raised over $1,000 - but to spay and neuter 2,000 cats, it will take much more.)
Thanks in advance for your support. Keep reading to learn more about the program.
Inner City Kitties -The Start of Something Big!
"We can't adopt away the problem."
Vicky Freund, co-founder of Vicky's Pet Connection
Feline overpopulation results in the senseless deaths of thousands of cats and kittens annually. Despite aggressive adoption efforts, Kent County animal shelters last year euthanized approximately 7,000 cats and kittens. Uncounted others suffered sickness, exposure, starvation, neglect, abuse or death.
To combat the problem, Vicky's Pet Connection launched an ambitious initiative during the summer called "Inner City Kitties." Run by volunteers and funded entirely by donations, "Inner City Kitties" provided free spay and neuter services for cats belonging to low-income residents in Grand Rapids. Feral cats that could be live-trapped were also welcome. The 10-week program succeeded in "fixing" 490 cats, including 285 females. In the program's second year, 1045 cats were spayed or neutered.
The goal for is to spay or neuter at least 2,000 cats.
Discounts, Donations and Dedication
"We feel strongly that spaying and neutering is the most effective means to prevent the births of unwanted cats and their subsequent abandonment, suffering and death," explained Val Mas, who coordinated the program on behalf of Vicky's Pet Connection.
"With every spay or neuter procedure, we help preent the birth of countless kittens who would have faced certain death," she said
According to Val, one of the challenges facing the program was that, as a grassroots, all-volunteer organization, Vicky's Pet Connection didn't have the resources to strongly promote the program.
"Fortunately, the program has caught on and spread via word of mouth," Val said.
"Some people come on foot while others come by bus or were dropped off by friends. We've even had several people become neighborhood advocates for the program, brining cats in for others or encouraged their friends and neighbors to bring in their cats."
"The success we had is due entirely to the dedication of our volunteers to make it happen - and to our supporters who provided the funds to help us accomplish as much as we did."
Among them was Dr. Bruce Langlois, owner of the Animal Hospital of Lowell. Along with two of his assistants, Dr. Langlois provided discounted veterinary services in a mobile unit called the Spay and Neuter Express. A strong advocate of reducing the euthanasia of adoptable animals through population control, Dr. Langlois regularly works in conjunction with Vicky's Pet Connection.
On selected Thursdays throughout the summer, the Inner City Kitties clinic is set up in downtown Grand Rapids. On a first-come, first-serve basis, people could register and drop off their pets from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
"The mobile unit pulls up in front of our building around 6:30 p.m., Val explained. "We shuttle cats, securely in their carriers, from the intake rooms to the mobile unit for surgery and then back to our building for recovery."
Surgeries are performed on male cats first. Owners can pick them up at 10 p.m. Surgeries for female cats are typically completed by 3 a.m. They are available for pick up at 8 a.m. the following day. All received discharge instructions and a record of any shots or other services receShots and other services are available at a reduced cost.
"We can't do this without our volunteers," Val said. "They give up almost every Thursday night during the summer to help. Some handle check-in. Others weigh the cats, a tough job that sometimes involved bites and scratches from frightened cats. Others assist with recovery procedures. A volunteer also has to be there for check-out at 8 a.m.-after pulling an all-nighter.
"When there is a bit of down time, we have a couple of volunteers who will go out to local feral colonies to trap cats to be altered."
Next Year, New Goal
According to Vicky Freund, co-founder of Vicky's Pet Connection, hitting the 490-mark with the Inner City Kitties program is just the beginning.
"We more than doubled the number of cats we provided services to last year, and we plan to double that amount this year. We're going to continue the program and keep setting higher goals. We know we can't eliminate the problem of homeless animals, but with luck, hard work and the continued dedication of our volunteers and supporters, we hope to at least eliminate the unnecessary euthanasia of adoptable pets in Kent County."