Even before the Franklin County Dog Shelter and Adoption Center opened on Tamarack Boulevard in Northland about six years ago, officials were making plans to greatly reduce the number of animals euthanized because no one wanted to give them a home.
That day is at hand.
"After years of planning, it's finally here," said Susan M. Smith, community-relations manager for the Franklin County Department of Animal Care and Control.
A program called "SNYP IT, C-Bus" (the acronym is for Spay or Neuter Your Pup) was approved Dec. 5 by the Franklin County commissioners.
It will provide free spaying or neutering for dogs owned by people who meet income guidelines. Those on some form of public assistance or with household incomes that don't exceed 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines also will be able to get free microchips and vaccinations for their pooches.
The procedures are by appointment only and can be made by calling 614-525-5454.
To qualify, people must provide proof they participate in such public-assistance programs as Supplemental Security Income, food stamps, Social Security Disability Insurance, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, Ohio Works First or Medicaid.
A family of five may earn up to $42,615 and qualify.
Smith said as the new shelter at 4340 Tamarack Blvd. in Columbus was being designed, a second surgical suite was included with the hope that it eventually would be used to provide low- or no-cost spaying and neutering services. A fundraising effort to provide that began as soon as the shelter opened in October 2011, she said, and dog owners were given the option beginning in 2012 to contribute to the program when renewing their pets' licenses.
Most people round up to $20 from the $18 license fee, Smith said, but others have given as much as $100.
"A few people have left us money in their estates, but the majority of it has been grassroots support," she said.
That fund now has close to $400,000, and SNYP IT, C-Bus is ready to be rolled out.
"I think we're anticipating we might spend up to $160,000 the first year," Smith said.
SNYP IT, C-Bus, according to an announcement from the dog shelter, is the pet project -- probably no pun intended -- of Deb Finelli, the assistant director.
"We knew that there was a need for this," she said in a statement. "Every day we see owners redeeming unaltered dogs and, for most, even the low-cost clinics are too expensive to afford.
"This program will benefit the community by reducing the number of unwanted litters that eventually make their way to the shelter, as well as improving the overall health of the dogs."
"The folks who are funding this are the responsible dog owners in our community," Smith said. "It's really especially gratifying to us because what we're trying to do is create more people like that in the community."
Finelli said it's vital that continued efforts are made to reduce intake and euthanasia at the shelter.
According to information from the shelter, about 85 percent of the approximately 10,000 dogs that arrive at the shelter each year have not been neutered or spayed.
A single female can produce as many as 67,000 puppies in five years.
As one of the flyers for the new spaying and neutering program states, "Dogs can't add or subtract, but they sure can multiply."