Two local animal rescue organizations hosted a “Spayathon” in Crescent Mills Oct. 14, resulting in spaying or neutering 82 feral cats, vaccinating them with rabies vaccine and releasing them back to their outdoor home bases the day after surgery, reported Rose Buzzetta, director of Friends of Plumas County Animals.
Veterinarians Dr. Frank Merrill and Dr. Michelle Kelley offered their services to perform the surgeries, working 12 hours almost nonstop to alter the 82 animals, she said. Merrill had a veterinary practice in Quincy from 1992 to his retirement in 2001 and still has a home in Quincy. Kelley practices veterinary medicine at the Peninsula Avenue Veterinary Clinic in San Mateo.
In addition to the vets, two veterinary technicians traveled with Kelley to do pre-surgery exams, assist in the surgeries and give vaccinations.
Buzzetta reported that a host of volunteers from all over Plumas County trapped and transported cats, assisted the vets, cleaned traps, ran for supplies, provided food all day, cared for the animals overnight after their surgeries, and generally were available for any chore needed to get the animals to the clinic and then safely home the next day.
Funding for the day came from The Almanor Foundation, Bread for the Journey, and the Common Good Foundation, along with donations from local animal lovers. The Plumas County Board of Supervisors allocated $10,000 to the project from its $7.8 million Dixie fire settlement with Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
Friends of Plumas County Animals and Plumas Animal Welfare Society brought the problem of the burgeoning kitten population to the supervisors at their May 9 board meeting. Buzzetta, along with Louise Delaney, PAWS director, cited the stress of the ever-growing feline population and the lack of a county plan to control breeding.
Many animals were abandoned or lost in the Dixie and other recent fires, which devastated parts of Plumas County. These cats have been breeding with no help available from county agencies to curtail the numbers of kittens born to these now feral cats, said Buzzetta. Stating that the county was using the nonprofit rescue organizations as animal control, and citing the financial, emotional and ethical burdens put on the rescuers, Buzzetta and Delaney asked the supervisors to begin a conversation to rectify the problems.
County Administrative Officer Debra Lucero was authorized to meet with interested parties and together the county, Friends, PAWS, and other rescuers and trappers in the local towns developed a plan: The county would buy additional traps to supplement those the rescuers already had. The goal was to trap 100 cats.
The board agreed (4 to 1) to purchase 74 traps in a one-time purchase. The rescuers set Oct. 14 as the clinic date with veterinarians Merrill and Kelley. “Dr. Doyle Rolston, DVM, graciously allowed us to rent his clinic for the event and then the rescues took over, making the event successful,” said Buzzetta.
“This ‘Spayathon’ is the first of its kind in the county and, hopefully, will be followed in the spring with another event — and then in the fall with another,” said Buzzetta.
Meanwhile, she said another meeting has been scheduled to discuss more long-term solutions to countywide issues around animal control. Items under consideration inclrude “safe surrender” (no fee for surrendering an animal to the county shelter), strengthening animal codes, instituting tougher penalties for animal abuse and neglect, and making sure hoarders and abusers have mental and behavioral health assistance as needed.
The positive response from the Board to the issues presented by the nonprofits, the willingness of the citizens and the rescues to do the work necessary to provide needed animal care and protection, the help of the county — all are “steps in the right direction for the health and wellbeing of the animals and the people of Plumas County,” said Buzzetta.
Information submitted by Friends of Plumas County Animals