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2008-08-06 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

Correction from Last Week: An omission con­fused the Afghan Hound Rescue story. Authorities removed 67, not 6, Af­ghans from a New Mexico hoarder's home, and the national breed rescue flew 7 of the distressed dogs to LI for intensive TLC. See "Pets" 7/31/08 online for the full article.

Good News: If you are looking to adopt a pet, you can venture further than your hometown shelter. Spay/neuter is required before place­ment for all dogs and cats; puppies and kittens adopted from Babylon Town Shelter. New shelter director Chris El­ton deserves heaps of praise for doing his homework prior to implementing this comprehensive and creative pro­gram which includes several unique features that ensure 100% compliance, reasonable fees, and quality vet care. It took Chris time to do this right- time well worth researching what does and does not work. I've seen many variations on the spay/neuter theme, and trust me, best intentions can go wrong. No shelter wants to contribute to pet overpopulation, while simul­taneously, the price for these steril­izations cannot be so high that cost deters adopters; or the veterinary skill so "assembly line" that pets develop complications (and possibly die); or schedules so rigid that using only one contract doctor can hold the animals captive longer at the shelter.

Poster Pets of the Week Poster Pets of the Week Elton built flexibility into the Babylon spay/neuter plan. He also extends an open invitation to local vets to participate. Adding hospitals can expedite the process and lessen surgery case loads. No one wants "adopted" animals waiting for spay/neuter to fill precious shelter cage space needed for the constant influx of homeless pets.

The Babylon Spay/Neuter Plan in a Nut Shell: Essentially new owners will not "take possession" of a dog or cat until after the pet is altered. Whenever possible the shelter will be proactive, spaying and/or neutering adoptable candidates as soon as a stray hold is over. For example, "Fanny Mae" a recent two- time Beacon poster Border Collie mix was sent to a clinic for spaying and returned to the shelter. About a week later a family adopted her. Stray dogs will still be held seven days in hopes that an owner will reclaim them before they become adoptable. Own­er surrendered dogs and most cats will still be ready for adoption con­sideration right away. If a visitor wants a certain pet, that person fills out an adoption application, but the pet still belongs to the Town. The shelter reviews the application. (Town shelters have the right to deny adoptions based on safety and humane concerns.) If approved, the shelter holds the unneutered pet for that po­tential owner. Spay/neuters will be done two days a week at vet hospitals. The day after the surgery, the approved owner pays fees and completes required pa­perwork including NYS license forms (for dogs only) at the shelter before leaving with the new pet. Adoption Fees: Fees vary because Babylon prepared for many scenarios. Spays are more involved than neuter surgeries, reflecting a slight price dif­ference. A female dog spayed via the shelter is $90; a male dog neutered same way is $80. This includes a rabies shot and NYS license. Pup­pies ($77.50 female; $67.50 male) are less because rabies shots should not be given to youngsters under 16 weeks old.

Risa, left and Priscilla, rightShelter Risa, left and Priscilla, rightShelter Cats do not get NYS licenses. Fe­male cats spayed via the shelter will be $62; males will be $52. These prices include rabies shots. Kittens are $50 for a female; $40 for a male because, again, those under 16 weeks are too young for rabies vaccines.

Unlike some other shelters, Baby­lon considers prior surgeries in the fee schedule. Pets verified as already spayed/neutered will cost just for ra­bies,

licenses (dogs only) and a small adoption fee. Neuters are easier to note than spays. When the vet upon visual exam finds a spay scar, the surgery fee will not be charged. Since spay scars can be tricky to detect, if the vet opens the pet and finds she is already spayed (unfortunately an operation), the total fee remains $90.

The vet will tattoo marks along­side the spay incision as another creative twist, to highlight Babylon spay alumnae for all future inquiries. Adopters are also entitled to a free first exam if they return to the spay/neuter hospital. Early Spay/Neuter: Chris Elton is making sure that no Babylon adop­tions fall through the fertility cracks. In a few months, any pup or kitten that left a shelter intact would be able to reproduce- counter produc­tive

to any rescue effort. Bonds and pre-paid spays are not guarantees that owners will get pets altered. Shelter pets should not beget more homeless pets. Therefore, Babylon's plan will include early spay/neuters. Pups and kittens must be eight weeks or two pounds to undergo this surgery before adoption. Free Feral Cat TNR Vouchers Extended: Thanks to state fund­ing obtained by Assemblyman Bob Sweeney, Babylon Town will con­tinue to support feral cat TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return). When Babylon Town launched a free feral cat spay/neuter voucher system last spring (Beacon "Pets" online 3/27/08), the certificates expired mid July. My worry was time would run out before the grant money. Within the next two weeks, a few hun­dred new free vouchers, redeemable at different clinics, will be issued to town residents first come, first served. Call the Babylon Shelter at 643-9270 for information about the TNR vouchers, borrowing humane traps or any facet of the mandatory shelter adoption spay/neuter plan. For Adoption: Back at Oyster Bay Town Shelter (677-5784) Miller Pl. Syosset all cat adoptions are $59 and dogs are $67.50. This fee includes spay/neuter, rabies and dog licenses. Fees are waived in the "Senior for Senior" selection. Certain procedures are different from the Babylon plan described above. Our Poster Pets include "Risa" #604 a playful brindle Pit mix, and "Priscilla" # 399 the gor­geous feline in the lobby. More Cats: "Boogie" #398- DLH gray; "Gidget" #203 tabby and white who wore the bikini.

Dogs: "Sammy" #425- black Shep­herd mix; "Winter" Siberian Husky #555.

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