Check our Clinics page for our current clinic and voucher totals.
Families who cannot afford spay/neuter veterinarian fees (as much as to $150 per cat) must contend with unwanted kittens and puppies, often disposing of them in inhumane ways;
Farmers and ranchers must watch feral cat colonies multiply and deal with the surplus population, again often in inhumane ways;
Local shelters are forced to euthanize healthy, adoptable cats and dogs for lack of space. The intake/euthanasia rate in Rapid City is far higher than that in cities of comparable size (HSUS).
The Coalition was formed in 2005 by a group of Black Hills residents concerned about serious pet overpopulation in the area as reflected in the high intake and euthanasia numbers in town shelters. After incorporating in the state of South Dakota and receiving our 501(c)3 status, we began to research methods that other concerned animal activists around the country had undertaken to address this problem. Ultimately we decided that our best approach would be through sponsoring low-cost spay/neuter cat clinics for low-income clients, since no similar services existed (and still do not) in all of West River, SD. We spent the next few months recruiting generous, caring veterinarians willing to devote their time to this cause and to spay/neuter cats for $35 females, $25 males. The clinics have been a great success, however, we saw an additional need to do more to assist feral cats, and initiated a voucher program (described below). In 2007 a short-term grant enabled us to sponsor a voucher system for dogs.
In-Clinic Clinics We held our first clinic in Edgemont in the southern Hills. The next veterinarian to join us practices in Rapid City, the third in Spearfish, and the fourth in Belle Fourche. We are proud to have two Rapid City vets recently join us. The Coalition pays the tax on these clinics, for rabies shots if the vet requires them and, when we have funds available, we cover all or a portion of the cost of alteration for clients who cannot afford it.
Voucher Program. Within a few months of initiating the clinics we were receiving calls from ranchers and feral/free-roaming cat caretakers requesting help. Unfortunately, participating veterinarians understandably prefer not to alter feral cats at the clinics. Two timely grants enabled us to establish a voucher program whereby our participating veterinarians plus three others we recruited agreed to honor vouchers for altering cats at $50 females, $35 males. Generally we ask for a small co-pay from those clients who can afford it to offset the spay/neuter cost of feral and free-roaming cats. Occasionally we issue vouchers to cat guardians who, for some valid reason, cannot attend the clinics.
With limited advertising, through the clinics and the voucher program, the Coalition was responsible for the spay/neuter of approximately 1000 cats between November 2006 and December 2008. Almost 100 cats were fixed in the first three months of 2009.
Future plans, which depend largely on grants, include: 1) launching an extensive advertising campaign to reach out to an even greater number of rural dwellers, 2) establishing additional clinics in Rapid City and other towns in West River SD, and 3) recruiting volunteers and raising the funds to expand the feral/free-roaming cat voucher program to other areas, 4) providing low-cost spay/neuter of dogs.
National and local foundations and area businesses have recognized our important mission and provided us with grant funds, although these are limited and go fast. With the assistance of participating veterinarians in Rapid City and the northern Black Hills who graciously offer a reduced cost for the alteration procedure, we assisted qualified area pet owners with altering over 800 cats and 200 dogs during our first two years of operation. Thus we have prevented the births and suffering of thousands of pets.