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Rescue nets grant to provide low-cost spay/neuter service

CARIBOU, Maine Halfway Home Pet Rescue of Caribou has received a $34,556 grant to help provide low-cost spaying and neutering for cats of qualifying families.

The Elmina B. Sewall Foundation recently notified the rescue that they had been approved for financial help with their 2019-2020 Feline Spay-A-Rama, a period which started Sept. 1 and will go through May 30, 2020. The gift will focus totally on spay/neuter opportunities for low-income families.

According to Norma Milton, president of Halfway Home Pet Rescue, such clinics are crucial to lessen increased vet costs in Central Aroostook and the shortage of enough “Help Fix Me” vouchers from the Maine Animal Welfare Program. 

“Maine Animal Welfare is very short on ‘Help Fix Me’ vouchers and Aroostook County applicants are disproportionately impacted with fewer vouchers. Many callers for HHPR assistance have said they already applied to the state and had not yet received an application,” Milton said.

“Aroostook is the oldest county in the oldest state in the nation, and has high poverty and low educational attainment,” she added. “The high pricing, coupled with a high percentage of low-income families and senior populations, has created a deplorable situation for animals in The County.” 

The rescue promotes spaying and neutering and has offered low-cost clinics in the past.

“HHPR recently revised its mission statement to include more spay/neuter clinic help to these families by hitting the problem at its roots — sterilization of the breeding cats,” Milton said. “Spay/neuter is the only humane way we can help these homeless, abandoned, stray and feral colonies of cats.” 

Two more low-cost clinics will be held on Saturday, Nov. 16, and Saturday, Dec. 14. Both these clinics are already booked to capacity. Additional clinics will be financed by the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation gift. 

To qualify for the clinics, families must have a yearly income of less than $35,000 and must provide proof of income to be included in the program.  The contract will also require a co-pay for each cat of $25, which will cover the cost of spaying or neutering, distemper and rabies shots, nail trimming, ear cleaning, ear mite treatment and 30-day parasite control.  The outstanding balance of the treatment will be paid by the HHPR spay/neuter program.  

Milton is currently working to issue vouchers to families who are applying too late to get into a clinic. The vouchers will be limited to a certain number of families per month. The voucher system once approved will not be activated until after Dec. 1, 2019.  

Milton said the three to four clinics over the span of a year will still leave a gap of time when low-income families will need to have breeding cats sterilized. She said a $15,000 balance is built into the grant to allow HHPR to keep the program going a full year. 

Earlier this year, HHPR received a grant from the Maine Community Foundation Belvedere Foundation for $9,995 for four low-cost spay clinics. Last spring, the nonprofit rescue hosted two low-income clinics, sterilizing 248 cats, sponsored by Marion’s Dream. The Belvedere funding financed another 29 cats to be sterilized on Oct. 19.

For more information on the low-cost, low-income clinics, email: or call 999-1075.

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