A large crowd packed the Bonneville House in downtown Fort Smith for the first annual “PETropolitan,” a fundraiser for the River Valley Animal Welfare Coalition.
Proceeds from the event support Kitties and Kanines, a low-cost spay and neuter clinic in Fort Smith.
Funds were raised from tickets and from a live auction that included two John Bell prints, two Razorback football tickets to the Texas A&M game and a Christmas light helicopter tour of Fort Smith donated by Vincent Williams.
The River Valley Animal Welfare Coalition was incorporated in 2006 to educate the public about the humane and ethical treatment of animals and to help provide non-lethal solution to homeless and abandoned companion animals. In 2009 the RVAWC board was awarded a $68,000 grant from PetSmart Charities to purchase cages and surgical equipment. They also received $1,800 from the Arkansas Community Foundation to help pay for office equipment.
A 2008 study by the RVAWC board found that 8,034 companion animals were placed in the Sebastian County Humane Society. Of those, 6,810 were euthanized. Because of the high numbers, the RVAWC decided to help fund a “low cost, high volume” spay/neuter clinic.
According to RVAWC, the benefits of spay/neuter include:
• Spaying and neutering helps dogs and cats live longer, healthier lives;
• Spaying and neutering can eliminate or reduce the incidence of a number of health problems that can be very difficult or expensive to treat;
• Spaying and neutering makes pets less likely to bite; and,
• Neutering makes pets less likely to roam the neighborhood run away or get into fights.
Kitties and Kanines is owned and operated by Veterinarians Deborah Waggener and Crystal Garner. As of May 7, the clinic had sterilized more than 2,000 animals. The public is charged $30 per cat and $40 per dog, although the real cost is closer to $85. The RVAWC goal is to sterilize 5,000 companion animals a year.
“If we are successful in meeting this goal, it will make a tremendous impact on pet overpopulation in this area,” Ramona Roberts, chairwoman of the RVAWC development committee, noted in a fundraising letter. “This very worthwhile operation depends entirely on grants, various fundraising activities, and private donations to cover the additional costs of operation.”