Voucher program whittling away at shelter kill rates

Published 5:32 pm Friday, March 18, 2022

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Beaufort County’s overpopulation of feral and stray cats is being resolved in the form of a voucher.

The voucher program, sponsored by the Humane Society of Beaufort County, has been operating for just over a year — and in that year, approximately 1,000 cats have been spayed or neutered, dramatically reducing the number of cats entering the county shelter (Beaufort County Animal Control Facility).

“It is the most effective — really, really, effective program — that we have going now,” said Marty Poffenberger, president of the Humane Society of Beaufort County. “And it’s not a problem finding people to take advantage of the voucher program.”

Vouchers cost $25 and cover spay/neuter surgery, plus basic vaccines. The rest of the cost is covered by the local Humane Society, which started the voucher program with a donation from the estate of Pamlico Animal Hospital founder and veterinarian Dr. Chuck Manning.

Cats account for the majority of animals euthanized in Beaufort County — in 2020, 1,027 cats entered the shelter; 402 of them were euthanized, according to Poffenberger, with most coming from backyard colonies and feral populations. The Humane Society is working toward turning those numbers around with the voucher program, Poffenberger said.

“The numbers at the shelter each year get better and better, and that’s the culmination of everything the Humane Society does — the voucher program, reduced-cost spay and neuter for adopted shelter animals, working with rescues — we’re just really working hard on becoming a no-kill county,” she said.

The Humane Society’s voucher program is aiming for a no-kill Beaufort County, a significant accomplishment considering North Carolina is ranked third in the nation for the number of animals euthanized in shelters.

“We’re still putting a lot of cats to sleep, but now I’m seeing people coming in and getting a mama and four kittens (spayed/neutered) with vouchers, instead of turning them in to the shelter,” Poffenberger said. “That’s what we like to see.”

For those interested in donating to keep the voucher program going, donations to the Humane Society of Beaufort County can be dropped off at Pamlico Animal Hospital, 3005 John Small Ave., Washington, NC 27889, mailed to PO Box 33, Washington, NC 27889 or made through the Paypal link on humanesocietyofbeaufortcounty.com.