FAIRMONT - If your dog, cat or rabbit needs to be spayed or neutered, there is a chance to get it done for free this week.
The surgeries will take place in the Minnesota Spay Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP) van, which will be at the Chain of Lakes Pet Hospital in Fairmont, Sunday. Animals will recover from surgery in the clinic and must be picked up the same day.
More sterilized pets will ideally result in fewer animals in need of adoption. The Carl Nettifee Memorial Animal Shelter in Fairmont is close to overflowing.
These puppies, a cross between an English bulldog and an Italian cane corso, are 9 weeks old and not ready to be neutered, but if your dog, cat, or rabbit is, the Spay Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP) mobile van will be in Fairmont on Sunday. For those who qualify, the surgery is free through a grant obtained by the Martin County Humane Society.
"We have more and more smaller dogs lately," Folkers said, including chihuahua puppies and two shih tzu dogs, which run about 20 pounds or smaller.
Currently, the shelter has 17 dogs, with nine more puppies being fostered; and 41 cats, with 40 more in foster care.
"We have one rabbit that we'd really like to get a home," Folkers said. "Poor guy, he's been here a long time."
Martin County Humane Society recently obtained a $1,725 grant from Pet Haven of Minnesota, which will cover the cost of neutering about 35 animals, said Karen Folkers, president of the humane society.
To qualify for a free surgery, pet owners must meet income guidelines. They can register with www.mnsnap.org or call (612) 720-8236.
The charge for pet owners who don't qualify for a free surgery ranges from $40 for a male cat or rabbit, up to $70 for a dog over 50 pounds. Free-roaming cats can be spayed for free.
Folkers said SNAP's cost is significantly cheaper than what most veterinary clinics charge.
Distemper shots, which usually cost $10, are also available for animals that qualify for a free neuter operation.
"We see parvo, which is covered by the distemper, which is often fatal to puppies," said Folkers. "Cats and dogs can get distemper or panaleukemia."
Dogs and cats must be vaccinated against rabies and distemper to get their licenses, according to the City of Fairmont website.
Kittens must weigh at least 2 pounds; puppies must be 8 weeks old; and rabbits must be 6 months old to be sterilized. All animals must be in good general health, and they must be brought in their own kennel or carrier.
Folkers said people come up with a lot of excuses for not getting their pets sterilized, but it's important to have the surgery as early as possible.
"There's a variety of advantages to spaying and neutering," she said.
First is reducing over-population, but another important reason is the health of the animals.
"Spaying prevents uterine cancer," Folkers said. "Not having a litter decreases the chance of mammary tumors.
"For the males, it prevents testicular cancer," she said.
The Centers for Disease Control claims "unneutered males are much more likely to show aggression than neutered males," Folkers said. "There's less negative behavior. (Unsterilized) dogs and cats are not particularly pleasant housemates."
Neutered males are less likely to mark their territory, and intact male dogs are more aggressive when they are around a female in heat.
"Cats in heat are very vocal. Male cats responding are more likely to get into fights and pick up feline leukemia (from the wounds)," Folkers said.