Cumberland Times-News

Local News

April 21, 2011

Pet spay and neuter bus tour plans area stops

— CUMBERLAND — A nonprofit organization aiming to help people who are struggling financially to spay and neuter their pets plans stops in Cumberland and Keyser, W.Va. as part of its first Spay and Neuter Cross Country Tour. The tour is scheduled for Keyser on July 16-17 and Cumberland on July 20-21, according to tour organizers.

Justice and Compassion for Animals, the group behind the tour, is based in Colorado and led by Kristen M. Marciniak and Heather Lunsford. The tour will combine action and education, according to the organization’s website. Marciniak is the founder of the organization.

“The importance of this visit is monumental,” wrote Jodi Sweitzer of Queen City Animal Rescue. “Everyone is aware of the economic hardships that are taking place across the country, and Cumberland is not exempt from this,” she wrote.

Individuals seeking to use the service should fill out an online application and submit the application as soon as possible because the tour’s time slots while in the area are limited, said Sweitzer.

Stopping the suffering of animals spurred the idea of the tour.

“I was inspired to create a Spay & Neuter Cross Country Tour in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep due to seeing so many ingrained images of animals suffering early on that day as well as pictures cumulating from a day-to-day basis,” Marciniak wrote in an e-mail to the Times-News.

She’s concerned that a rich country doesn’t have a coherent policy to stop animal cruelty and euthanization in shelters.

“The root of the problem is animals procreating — the aftermath problem is pet overpopulation, animal cruelty and high euthanization rates in U.S. shelters,” she wrote.

Ideally, the program would be free; however, the organization’s website said the final costs depend on funding and donations, as well as an individual’s financial circumstances. “Teaching about the benefits of spay/neuter is critical. We will be giving presentations in all of the towns and cities we are helping,” reads a statement on the website.

“The cost of spay or neutering can be high and anytime you have a chance to provide high-volume, low-cost spay/neutering gives us the opportunity to try to keep the dog and cat population from growing,” Sweitzer said.

Mary Thompson, the rescue coordinator for the Allegany County Animal Shelter, asked Justice and Compassion for Animals to bring the tour to the area, Sweitzer said. “The spaying and neutering will be done on the bus by highly qualified, licensed veterinarians with experience in S&N Mobile,” wrote Marciniak. She hopes to accommodate 500 to 800 animals throughout the tour.

The spay and neuter tour is a complement to the overall goals of the organization, “by providing financially challenged individuals, families, and seniors the opportunity (& education) to have their companion animals sterilized. This will in turn also encourage others (through word of mouth) to educate about the importance of spaying and neutering,” Marciniak said.

"People need to stop what they're doing and take a moment to see what humanity is doing to animals. It is our mission to show people that positive, compassionate actions can replace the barbaric acts against animals today,” Marciniak writes on the website.

Justice and Compassion for Animals is looking for individuals to sponsor animals, according to the website. The group is also pursuing grants to aid funding for the project. The organization started Feb. 2 when Marciniak considered the type of nonprofit to create that would benefit animals and people.

“After volunteering in Louisiana doing animal rescue and caring for rescued animals after Hurricane Katrina struck, I realized just how bad the pet overpopulation was. More than half the rescued animals that came my way were not spayed or neutered. I couldn't believe my eyes. My post-Katrina animal rescue experiences have always stayed with me and has been the fuel to create JCA,” she wrote.

 To learn more about the tour, make a donation, or to sign up your pets for the program, visit http://www.jc4a.com, and click on “S&N‚Äąprogram.” There is also a Facebook page for the tour at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Spay-Neuter-Cross-Country-Tour/211624442184852.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.

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