Entirely fixable

Published 8:33 am Wednesday, February 14, 2007

By Staff
Slick is an eight-week old chow mix that lives at the Betsy Bailey Nelson Animal Control Facility in Beaufort County. Inside his cage, a red container about the size of a file-cabinet drawer is the center of his world. There, he lounges on a lavender blanket and a green towel. He plays with a stuffed tiger and a pink teddy bear and offers a red-and-white rope toy to his visitors.
Slick is the last of a litter of six puppies. Workers at the animal shelter aren’t sure why he hasn’t yet been adopted; maybe it’s because of the two-inch hairless patch on his tail. His litter mates chewed on his tail, but he misses them nevertheless, and is “having a rough time of it” after spending two nights alone, a shelter employee said.
Slick gets to stay in his “motel room” as long as there’s space available, said shelter employee Teresa Brooks. “We don’t like to think about limits,” she said. “We keep them as long as we can.”
But the reality is that there isn’t enough room at the shelter for all the Slicks of Beaufort County.
But it’s a reality that’s “entirely fixable,” said Dr. Marty Poffenberger, a veterinarian at Pamlico Animal Hospital. All this month, Beaufort County veterinarians are spaying or neutering dogs and cats at a reduced cost.
Depending on the type and size of the animal, a pet owner can save between $27 and $59 on the operation. It’s always a good idea to spay or neuter a pet to prevent unwanted litters, but with this month’s incentive, pet owners have no excuse to put it off.
Because he’s young and tiny and cute, Slick will likely be adopted before he has to be euthanized. Scruffy, a sheepdog mix, is a tougher sell. He’s sweet and has impeccable manners, but he’s 2 years old.
Maybe Slick and Scruffy will both be adopted before their time runs out. But every year, thousands of dogs and cats nationwide aren’t as lucky.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
The surgery may seem expensive. The operation can cost from $53 to $141 per animal this month, depending on whether the pet is a male or female, a dog or a cat, and how much it weighs.
But that is a one-time expense. It in no way compares to the cost of having to feed and care for a litter of six (or eight or 10) dogs for a whole lifetime. It in no way compares to the money the county has to put toward unwanted dogs and cats.
Area residents should take advantage of the reduced-cost veterinary services being offered this month. It’s the responsible thing to do.
And it’s the only way to ensure that someday, there won’t be another Slick waiting for a home.