Nearly four months into a grant program focusing on spaying and neutering cats and dogs within two Davidson County zip codes, no animals have been fixed.
But the Metro Health Department official overseeing the effort says progress is being made and the program is on schedule, with a Feb. 1 focus group meeting slated for Parkwood Community Center. A PetSmart grant of $35,000 will fund the free mobile spaying/neutering program, which should begin within two months and will focus on Davidson County’s 37207 and 37013 zip code areas.
“Proper planning is the key to a successful campaign,” said Alisa Haushalter, project director for the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) grant that will fund enforcement and educational efforts to supplement the PetSmart initiative. “Since the residents are a large component to the educational piece, we want to listen to what they have to say. This approach allows for the residents to increase collaboration, thus creating a more sustainable project.”
The two-year CPPW grant, which provides $7.5 million to fund various Metro Health Department initiatives related to health and safety, will enter its second and final year March 19. The mobile spay/neuter project is using the PetSmart grant, with Metro (both the health department and its animal control division) partnering with Nashville Humane Association and the United Partnership for Animal Welfare (UPAW).
Metro Animal Care and Control (MACC) was able to hire two new animal control officers to help patrol the 37207 and 37013 zip codes, Haushalter said.
“Data from MACC indicates these zip codes have the highest number of stray dog complaints when compared to other zip codes in Davidson County,” she said of the focus, adding the 37207 zip code area reportedly has no veterinarians.
“It is our hope that we will be out in 37207 using the mobile spay/neuter clinic within the next two months,” added Haushalter, who has worked on the grant and project with Joe Pinilla.
With multiple partners, a zip code area focus and significant community input, the PetSmart initiative ranks among the most noteworthy spay/neuter efforts Nashville has undertaken, according to Mary Pat Boatfield, executive director of the Nashville Humane Association.
Boatfield said the program will include an animal behaviorist and a trainer. Animals will receive physical exams, too.
“This is much more comprehensive than our standard spay and spay and neuter program,” she said.
Judy Ladebauche, MACC director, said she is hopeful the spay/neuter effort will begin by April, as the spring is a significant mating period for both cats and dogs.
Ladebauche acknowledged that some citizens within the two zip codes could be disappointed if actual spaying and neutering does not take place as soon as the end of March. At that point, the two-year grant will be one year into its lifespan.
“The grant expires March 19, 2012, so whether we have made a major impact or not by then — that’s what we’re focused on,” she said.
Haushalter said the spay/neuter start date timing has been necessary to conduct preliminary work involving focus groups, gathering community input and formulating a strategy with the various partners.
Of 44 CPPW-funded sites nationwide, Nashville is the only site that included safety objectives that focus on reducing dogs running at large, Haushalter said.