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Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

A cardboard box holding abandoned puppies was brought into the Kern County Animal Shelter on Mt. Vernon Avenue in January.

In an effort to stem the flow of puppies into the Kern County Animal Control Shelter, Cathey's K-9 Rescue is beginning its second annual "puppy surrender" program.

By appointment only, the rescue will take litters of pups and issue a voucher to cover the entire cost of spaying the mother dog.

The rescue will then adopt out the puppies during its regular adoption days, Saturdays and Sundays, at Petco on Rosedale Highway. It has been adopting dogs out at Petco since 2001.

"We received 42 litters of pups last spring," rescue owner Nancy Cathey said. "We adopted out them all out."

The rescue adopted out 160 puppies and spayed 42 mother dogs through the program.

None of the puppies adopted out had health problems, Cathey noted. When pups go to the shelter, they often become infected with the fatal parvovirus.

Keeping puppies out of the shelter "is our contribution to them," Cathey said. "It's a tiny dent, but it was over 200 dogs last year."

With the help of Critters Without Litters, Bakersfield's low-cost, high-volume, spay neuter clinic, Cathey is hoping to spay even more mother dogs this spring.

If you have pups to surrender, don't simply dump them at Petco. You must make an appointment first by calling Cathey at (760) 417-9627.

The rescue is also asking for donations of dry puppy food and asks that donors bring the food to the rescue table in Petco with a note "for Cathey's K-9."

They also accept monetary donations, which can be sent to P.O. Box 622, Lake Isabella, CA 93240.

-- Lois Henry, Californian columnist