Martinsville, Va. — The Martinsville-Henry County SPCA received a $15,000 Pick Up the Pace! grant from The Harvest Foundation to expand its services to operate a spay and neuter clinic designed to provide basic veterinary care for shelter animals. It will also serve residents with financial barriers and bolster the education of future veterinarians and support staff.
The clinic will provide services that include spay, neuter, vaccines and microchips. Through these services, educational opportunities will be available to high school and college students studying for future career opportunities. The SPCA hopes to mentor local students interested in humane education, veterinary sciences, and the emerging field of veterinary social work (attending to human needs at the intersection of veterinary and social work practice).
In addition to eliminating financial barriers to these important services for lower income owners of companion pets, the clinic will be a valuable tool in controlling the community’s feral cat issues in the city and county.
“While having a safe, available, and affordable facility to spay and neuter local animals is an important part of a vibrant community, the benefits of this project can also have a long-term impact on the health of our community,” said Sheryl Agee, senior operating officer at The Harvest Foundation. “Research shows that pet-ownership lowers blood pressure, elevates endorphins for stress management, and even increases exercise for owners. In addition, the partnerships developed by the SPCA with the schools and PHCC will build a workforce pipeline for veterinary sciences so that we can continue to have local qualified professionals available in our community.”
Virginia state law requires spay and neuter surgery prior to adoption. The lack of timely access to this service has slowed the adoption rate and strained the intake capability at the SPCA. Since the onset of COVID-19, access to timely spay and neuter services has become a critical issue. By providing these veterinary services on-site, the SPCA will have greater capacity for intake and will operate more efficiently.
“The impact that this grant will have on our community animals is going to be tremendous. There will be fewer homeless animals and less disease,” said E.C. Stone, executive director of the SPCA. “Many community members will be able to get their pets spayed or neutered, where otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to afford it. Each surgery will come with additional needed vaccines that many of these animals would never have gotten, creating a much healthier and happier pet for their owners to enjoy.”
Patti Covington, a member of the SPCA Board of Directors, said having in-house spay and neuter capability will be a “milestone achievement” in humane services for the shelter and the community.
“The lives of people and animals are so intertwined,” Covington said. “By helping animals, we are helping people. I am so very grateful to the Harvest Foundation for investing in the community that we faithfully serve.”
The SPCA has received much-needed support for this project, including grants from the Louise R. Lester Foundation and the Darnell Family Foundation.
“We are excited and grateful for the Harvest Foundation’s investment towards the establishment of the Louise R Lester Spay & Neuter Clinic at the SPCA,” said Leslie Hervey, first vice president and development chair at the SPCA. “The clinic will boost efficiency in terms of spay/neuter and subsequent adoption numbers, but perhaps more importantly, it will open a door of opportunity for educating our young people in humane education and veterinary sciences.”
Find out more about The Harvest Foundation and local grant opportunities at www.theharvestfoundation.org.