Wilkes County commissioners on Tuesday night unanimously approved an agreement making the Humane Society of Wilkes eligible for reimbursement when it pays for spaying or neutering dogs and cats belonging to low income people in the county.
County Attorney Tony Triplett said funds for the reimbursements are available from the N.C. Department of Agriculture’s Spay/Neuter Program under state statutes.
Triplett said Wilkes Department of Social Services Director Bill Sebastian agreed to have Wilkes DSS be responsible for screening to determine income eligibility of dog and cat owners.
He said the Humane Society of Wilkes already approved the agreement.
To be eligible for reimbursement, the owner of the pet being spayed or neutered must qualify for at least one public assistance program administered by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services or have an annual household income below 300 percent of federal poverty level guidelines.
“If an application isn’t approved, there simply is no reimbursement” and the Humane Society or the pet owner pays for the spaying or neutering, said Triplett.
He said the agreement stipulates that county government won’t be responsible for any of the costs of spaying or neutering. It says that the Humane Society must repay the county for any reimbursements the county has to repay the state for the Humane Society’s noncompliance with program requirements.
The agreement also requires that the Humane Society show proof of $1 million in insurance coverage.
It currently costs the Humane Society $55 to have a dog up to 100 pounds spayed or neutered by a veterinarian in Wilkes. It costs an additional $15 for dogs weighing over 100 pounds. She said the cost is $50 for female cats and $40 for male cats.
Under state legislation that took effect Oct. 1, the maximum amount that can be reimbursed per spaying or neutering procedure is 150 percent of the average reimbursed cost in the previous year.
For calendar 2013, the maximum reimbursement amounts are $126.23 for spaying a female dog, $112.20 for neutering a male dog, $96 for spaying a female cat and $71.13 for neutering a male cat.
Humane Society President Joanna Kates said the organization has spent about $21,000 on spaying or neutering dogs or cats so far this year and spent $23,000 in 2012.
Ms. Kates said the organization provided funds for spaying or neutering 800 dogs or cats this year, through the end of September. It provided funds for spaying or neutering 796 dogs or cats in 2011 and 943 in 2012.
Ms. Kates said there is no limit on the number of dogs and cats that can be spayed or neutered per household under the state-funded program.
Triplett credited Wilkes Animal Control Director Junior Simmons with working for years to get the program implemented in Wilkes.
Ms. Kates praised the Wilkes Animal Control staff for how well it works with the Humane Society and said she has been told that this positive relationship between a county animal shelter and local humane society is unique.
Simmons credited the Humane Society of Wilkes with raising the adoption rate of dogs and cats at the Wilkes Animal Control Shelter in Wilkesboro.
He said the adoption rate is now 35 percent for dogs and cats at the shelter overall and 50 percent for dogs and cats identified as “adoptable,” compared to about 5 percent overall when he started as county animal control director about 17 years ago.