One hundred dog owners who have been financially unable to spay, neuter, vaccinate or microchip their pet will be able to count Sunday as their lucky day.
The ALPHA Canine Sanctuary, a nonprofit dog rescue organization, will be holding a one-day free spaying and neutering event called "Don't Litter, Fix Your Critter," to help control the local dog population and prevent the destruction of unwanted or stray dogs.
All 100 appointments for Sunday are booked, according to ALPHA director Marilyn Stewart, and there is a waiting list of several hundred more. But ALPHA is hoping to get funding for a second all-day event, Stewart said, and more dog owners are encouraged to sign up.
The event will cost between $8,000 and $10,000, Stewart said, and is being funded by animal rescue organizations including ALPHA, the Rescue Alliance of Hairless & Other Breeds and another nonprofit organization that chose to remain anonymous.
Sunday's event will be the first free spay-neuter day in Kern County, according to Stewart.
"Our ultimate goal is we want to show our county supervisors how much demand there is for spaying and neutering with the citizens, and that hopefully they will fund such a program in the future," Stewart said. "They need to save our money by using it on spay-neutering rather than using it to kill impounded animals down at the shelter," she said.
To that effect, a petition asking the county Board of Supervisors to enact a county-funded spay and neutering program is being circulated by the Taxpayers for Responsible and Ethical Animal Treatment, according to Stewart, who is also a member.
Stewart said TREAT is a year-old local nonprofit group that works for animal welfare.
TREAT CEO Vera Edwards said fewer than 100 signatures have been gathered so far. "We hope to gather hundreds of signatures at the event," she said.
On Sunday, a spay-neuter mobile unit from the Amanda Foundation, a 30-year-old Los Angeles-based pet rescue organization, will be parked beside Anytime Fitness on China Grade Loop and the club's air-conditioned facilities will be used as the recovery rooms for the dogs which will be able to go home with their owners the same day, Stewart said.
Edwards said there will be a total of seven vets and veterinary technicians from the Amanda Foundation performing the surgeries. Stewart said about a handful of local Kern County vets will also be there to lend a hand.
"I think it's a great service because there's too many animals running around," Taft resident Melissa Johansen, 42, said. "Too many people let their dogs have babies."
Johansen said she knows of a German shepherd owner whose dog had her first litter of 13 puppies in December. He gave away nine, still has four and the dog had her second litter yesterday, she said.
Johansen's own dog, Daisy, a miniature collie who had a six-pup litter last Labor Day, will be spayed on Sunday. Johansen, who is currently unemployed, said she would not be able to get Daisy spayed otherwise.
In conjunction with the spaying-neutering event will be a "Dog Health and Safety Faire" open to the public, which will include a microchip clinic. Dog owners will be able to microchip their dogs at a reduced fee of $15, Stewart said.
Information booths, free dog tags and nail clippings, a water slide for children, and food and drinks for for sale will also be available.
Among the dozens of local businesses and organizations sponsoring the event are All Paws Grooming, Allen Road Veterinary Hospital and Doubletree Hotel.
What: “Don’t Litter, Fix Your Critter” free spay-neuter event and “Dog Health and Safety Faire”
Where: Anytime Fitness, 200 China Grade Loop, Bakersfield
Spaying and neutering: from 6 a.m. until all 100 dogs are altered.
Dog Faire: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Contact: Marilyn Stewart at 391-8212 to find out more about “Don’t Litter, Fix Your Critter,” or to request one or more TREAT spay-neuter petitions for signing. The petition can also be downloaded from the TREAT Web site, www.TREATinfo.com/SpayNeuterPetition.html.
For additional information, visit www.alphacanine.org or www.TREATinfo.com
To donate money for another free spay-neuter day, please send your check to: ALPHA Canine Sanctuary, P.O. Box 5517, Bakersfield, CA 93388. Please indicate “For Free Spay-Neuter Day” on the check.