The Sullivan Humane Society has been open for ten years.
President Julie Tow says when they opened their doors they were told to expect around 1500 animals to come through in the first year, and the number would gradually fall.
“We were told after five years it would go down to maybe 500. They based this on the size of our county,” she said. “And they said after five years it should go down to 500 animals coming through our door, well we’re double that.”
In seven years an unspayed female dog and her offspring could produce 97,000 puppies, and an unspayed female cat and her offspring could produce 420,000 kittens.
The overpopulation picks up in the warmer months while dogs and cats are in heat, according to Jodi Schermerhorn, Executive Director of the SPOT clinic.
“Shelters are overflowing. We have shelters all over here. Clay, Sullivan, Vigo, Owen, Putnam. They’re all overflowing and there’s too many animals coming in,” she said. “And we don’t want to have to euthanize those animals. So the key to not euthanizing animals in our shelter is to make sure you’re personal pet is spayed or neutered.”
Every animal that leaves the Sullivan Humane Society is fixed, but not every owner chooses to spay or neuter.
“If you choose not to spay your animal, then you need to be aware of the heat cycle,” said Tow. “When the female comes into heat you need to keep her inside where she cannot be breed.”
At the SPOT clinic it only costs 40 dollars to fix a cat, 60 to fix a dog, and only five dollars if you have proof of government assistance in Vigo County.
For those outside of Vigo County on government assistance it costs only 20 dollars to spay or neuter.
“Each year we do between five thousand and eight thousand surgeries just on dogs and cats,” said Schermerhorn. “This past year we did a little over seven thousand. And we’ve already done to this date this year at this location 2,041 spays and neuters.”
Overpopulated shelters cause strain on the animals and staff.
With more animals to take care of it takes longer to clean kennels, more money for medications and more funds to just to keep the shelter running.
Tow says that since the Sullivan Humane Society opened, they’ve spent over 100,000 dollars in grant money to spay and neuter animals.
“People think well my one dog wont make a difference, but it does. It makes a lot of difference. We have 41 kennels at our shelter and we have 50 dogs,” said Tow. “We have over 50 cats, we’re lucky to get four off to a rescue this morning. But like I said we’re just beginning the season so we’re gonna see an influx in puppies and kittens.”