GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - A big issue here in the Grand Valley started with cats that roam the streets at night, searching for warmth and food. Many of them have not been spayed or neutered, meaning they will keep reproducing, only making the problem worse. However, there are some animal welfare groups hoping to change that, starting this weekend.
The Grand Valley Cat Coalition (GVCC) is an agency composed of several different animal welfare organizations that have partnered to try and solve their shared problem - cat overpopulation. "We know that the problem in the community is massive," said Anna Stout, the advisory committee co-chair for GVCC and the executive director for Roice-Hurst Humane Society. GVCC is composed of: CLAWS, Grand Rivers Humane Society, Grand Valley Pets Alive, Loma Cat House, Mesa County Animal Services, Roice-Hurst Humane Society, and some concerned citizens.
"We're hoping that we'll be able to get the population under control first and get sort of a culture of population control with the residents in the area, and then be able to leave a controlled area and then go on to another high need area," said Stout. The concept is modeled after a program from the Denver area, called the Metro Denver Cats Around Town.
GVCC is starting their efforts with a trap-neuter-return weekend, where Dr. Jeff the Rocky Mountain Vet from the Animal Planet will be coming into town to spay and neuter cats for free. "Literally thousands of dollars in savings for our coalition, so we're really grateful to Jeff and his crew for being a part of this weekend," said Stout.
The cats that are eligible for the surgeries are only cats within the targeted area, which stretches from 1st Street to 12th Street, and from North Avenue to Riverside Parkway. "We are only working in this target area. So we are trapping cats in the target area and we are accepting owned cats from the people who live in that target area. So this is not for the whole community, and the reason for that is because our strategy is to work in this target area first and get that population controlled before moving outward," said Stout.
Volunteers will be trapping colony cats in the target area over the weekend, but those are not the only cats that can get the surgeries for free. Owned cats will also be able to receive a free surgery, but there must be a reservation made for them. "Spaying and neutering your pets is exceedingly important, in fact we look at it as a responsibility of any pet owner," said Jeff Stroud, the office manager for Tiara Rado Animal Hospital.
"We're not discriminating between owned cats and unowned cats, because an owned cat is just as capable of going out and having babies as an unowned cat," said Stout. Stout also called the cat overpopulation an invisible problem, because many of the colony cats are never seen.
Volunteers will start trapping colony cats on the evening on January 12, and surgeries for those cats will begin at 9 a.m. on January 13 inside of Roice-Hurst Humane Society. Owned cat surgeries will start at 1 p.m. on January 13.
On Sunday, January 14, colony cat surgeries will start at 9 a.m., and owned cat surgeries will begin at 11 a.m.
If you live inside the target area and want to reserve a spot for your cat, call (970)261-3760. Stout estimated there will be anywhere from 50-75 owned cats being spayed and neutered this weekend, so call quickly if you want to get in on this initiative.
It's important to know the surgeries are free, but if your cat needs a Rabies or Distemper vaccine, those will cost $5 each.
If you miss it, don't worry, this is just the first weekend event for GVCC of a year long pilot program in that targeted area.