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Lets unite for benefit, animal lovers

Tuesday, there will be a benefit for one of many worthy causes in our community, which is pet spay and neuter. The third annual “Spay-ghetti and No Balls Lunch” will help provide money for Natchez and surrounding areas to continue to participate in the voucher program offered through Mississippi Spay and Neuter. These vouchers are like a co-pay, which help reduce the cost of a spay or neuter surgery for your pets.

Some of you may be wondering how Spay-ghetti came about. Well, almost five years ago now, a few of my animal loving friends and myself decided it was time to get proactive in helping the animals in our community. We named ourselves “Friends of 4 Paws.” We wanted to do something about all of the animals coming into our shelter because so many people couldn’t or just wouldn’t spay or neuter their pets. Our animal shelter stays full and there just aren’t enough homes to save them all. We had to find a way to get people to have their pets spayed or neutered.

Over the next year, “Friends of 4 Paws” met once a month. Along the way, someone from the group found out about a spay/neuter conference in Jackson being offered through Mississippi Spay and Neuter. A couple of us attended this conference. While there, we made a wonderful contact with the founder/director of Mississippi Spay & Neuter, Elaine Adair. We talked to Elaine about the need to do something to help our area with the pet overpopulation problem. A few short months later, we got a call — a wonderful call. They offered to bring the Little Fix Rig (a mobile surgery unit for spay/neuter) to Natchez for one year. They gave us a few weeks to see if we could pull it all together, and we did just that. We got it organized and the spaying and neutering began for 13 months. In 2010, 510 animals from our community were fixed.

After the Little Fix Rig left Natchez, we were left wondering and worried about what would now happen if there was no way to help and encourage people to have their pets spayed or neutered. So with a little time on the computer, we found a fundraiser done in another part of the U.S. called “Spay-ghetti and No Balls Lunch.” A bold name for sure, but definitely would grab your attention. The first event was hosted in 2010.

The “Spay-ghetti & No Balls Lunch” has done well in our two previous years and the plan is to make it an annual Natchez tradition. The funds raised over the last two years have helped provide approximately 400 spay or neuter surgeries for pet owners in our community. I also want to mention that these funds are used to help with the feral cat population, of which many Natchezians are aware. There are numerous cat colonies in our community and through the hard work and devotion of a few individuals helping to trap, neuter and release, we are slowly making a difference in the feral cat overpopulation.

The third annual “Spay-ghetti and No Balls Lunch” will be hosted Tuesday, May 21, at the Natchez Community Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Plates are $10 and will include spaghetti with Al Strickland’s marinara, French bread, dessert and a Coke. Tickets are being sold in advance, so please call 601-597-2117 if you would like to purchase a plate.

We are thankful for the many volunteers helping put the lunch together and also for each of our sponsors which include: Smith Printing, Pearl St. Pasta, Lil Dago’s Cafe, Sysco, Slick Rick’s, Natchez Market, Coke and Dunleith.

If you are unable to purchase a plate, but are interested in helping residents in the Natchez area to spay or neuter their pets, you may send a tax-deductible donation to MS SPAN, 100 Business Center Parkway, Suite B, Pearl, MS 39208. Please note on your check that your donation is for the “Natchez Fund.”

We truly appreciate your support of the third annual “Spay-ghetti and No Balls Lunch.”

Ginna Holyoak is a Natchez resident and volunteer for Mississippi Spay and Neuter.