Two area animal lovers are continuing their work to reduce the number of stray cats on the Kenai Peninsula by hosting a spay and neuter clinic this October.
Stacie Mallette and Terry DiBetta said they formed the Cat Tree and Barkery Rescue, a nonprofit, to fill a need they saw on the peninsula to catch animals that slip through the cracks of other rescue organizations and spay and neuter programs. After realizing opening a brick-and-mortar shelter would require enormous funding, the pair networked with the Alaska Spay/Neuter Assistance Program to bring a clinic to the area last November.
“From there … it’s just kind of steamrolled and … now we’re focused more in that direction because we see that we’re kind of filling probably a huge niche in the community right now,” Mallette said.
The clinic was well received, said Mallette, who also works at the Kenai Animal Shelter, so the Cat Tree and Barkery brought it back again in the spring. Between those two events, they said 235 cats were spayed or neutered.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are 30-40 million “community” cats, or cats that are feral or stay, in the country. These are the cats that give birth to about 80 percent of the kittens born in the U.S. each year, according to the society’s website.
The pair hope to continue holding spay and neuter clinics in the future as they are able and are open to tweaking how they do it in order to reach more felines, they said.
Next month’s clinic will be held Oct. 7 and 8 at the Salvation Army Center for Worship and Service in Kenai. The clinic is booked up with between 100 and 120 cats, DiBetta said, but those interested in getting their cats fixed are still welcome to call for the clinic.
“If nothing else, they can get on the wait list and we will contact them if we have another clinic,” DiBetta said.
Mallete and DiBetta said they are often asked why they don’t include dogs in their clinics. The cost of the operations goes up for dogs because the surgery takes longer and requires more drugs, but reaching out to canines as well is one of their goals, they said.
“That’s really where we want to try to go … to get funds to do another one for dogs,” Mallette said.
For now, the pair will continue to spay and neuter cats and act as one of several rescue organizations the animal shelter can call on when it has a lot of felines, she said. Cat Tree and Barkery partners with Petco and can bring animals to Petco adoption fairs when the animal shelter requests it.
Between helping connect animals to potential adoption and hosting the clinics, Mallette and DiBetta said they hope to reach the pet owners and cats that would otherwise not get help. The operations to have a pet spayed or neutered can sometimes be too expensive which may lead to people putting it off, they said.
“People are really grateful to have a low-cost alternative,” DiBetta said. “So many people have landed on hard times … it’s hard to make ends meet sometimes, and they know they want to get this done, and so we make it where there’s very little excuse not to get it done.”
The Cat Tree and Barkery Rescue also loans out a cage on a donation basis to help people catch stray cats outside city limits that may need to be spayed or neutered. The organization will host a clinic for animals to get microchipped this winter.
To register for the spay and neuter clinic, call 690-MEOW. The clinic costs $60 for female cats and $35 for males.
Reach Megan Pacer at email@example.com.