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Please have your pets spayed or neutered

There is an ongoing epidemic in our city that few people seem to know or care about.

Our city, not unlike a lot of cities across America, has stray dogs, cats and feral cats, all exploding in population.

There are several ways in which to deal with this problem. One is with the help of the Mississippi Spay and Neuter, Natchez Chapter.

This group is an extension of the program located in Richland. Natchez is the only city in Mississippi that has an extension of this group. In the few short years they have been in existence, the Natchez group has spayed or neutered more than 2,800 animals.

That is a reduction of thousands of potentially unwanted, stray animals roaming our city streets.

Another way to deal with the stray situation is to transport dogs, cats, puppies and kittens out of our city to places that do not have an overpopulation of animals and where these animals are desired as pets.

One such transport in our area is Hoofbeats and Pawprints Rescue. This organization has successfully transported more than 7,000 animals to other cities and states. Between these two entities, there have been more than 10,000 animals not reproducing in our city.

However, the population continues to grow, and this leads to overcrowded shelters. We have three wonderful animal shelters in our area. The Natchez-Adams County Humane Society shelter is equipped to handle 94 dogs and cats and diligently replaces adopted slots with animals from a waiting list.

The Vidalia, Louisiana, Dog Pound stays full with15 dogs. Concordia PAWS in Ferriday, Louisiana, also a “dog only” facility is also always full.

Each animal in these facilities has been vetted and is ready for a new home. All shelter pets, by law, must be spayed or neutered before going to their new home. This also reduces the unwanted populations, but there are still too many roaming the streets of Natchez, Vidalia and Ferriday.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has come up with three ways to help assist in keeping pet population numbers down. First, public education campaigns to help pet owners understand the importance of spay and neuter practices. This includes encouraging veterinarians to educate their clients to make spay and neuter a part of responsible pet ownership, as well as teaching school children the importance of spaying and neutering before they become pet owners.

Secondly, the AVMA also believes in funding research for the development of nonsurgical methods of sterilization. Lastly, the AVMA believes it is the responsibility of the leaders in the community to provide public policy by approving city ordinances that include mandatory spay/neuter laws for pets, strict enforcement of that law and keeping up with the city’s pet population by requiring licensing of all dogs and cats.

These steps, and the persistence of a good animal control officer, should be very effective in culling down the population explosion.

Here is where you come into the picture. If you own a pet, please do the responsible thing and have that pet spayed or neutered. If you find it is just an expense you cannot afford, remember the Spay/Neuter program here in Natchez may be able to provide you with a voucher for a reduced price for the procedure.

We also need the younger crowd to get involved with the “trap, spay/neuter, and return” program for feral cats. Did you know that in nine years, one cat, her mate and offspring can reproduce more than 11,000,000 kittens? So, you see how the feral population can get out of control so quickly. Currently, there are two or three people attempting to trap, spay/neuter, and returning the feral cats in Natchez. This takes time, money and community cooperation. Three people cannot accomplish this task alone.

If you would like to help in the effort to trap, spay/neuter, and turn, or if you have questions, please TEXT Marie at 601-597-9350. Also, text with any locations you know of that might have already had trap, spay/neuter, and release done by yourself or others. This will help prevent redundancy in this effort.

Mary Eldridge is a volunteer with the Natchez Adams County Humane Society.