Kingston City Council have approved funding to help the Kingston Humane Society expand and optimize their spay and neuter capabilities.
Council awarded a one time payment of roughly $62,000 to the Humane Society, the majority of which will help the shelter to purchase equipment including an additional operating table and anesthetic machine as well as finance a specific training program for staff.
The funding will allow the Humane Society to utilize the High Volume Technique in their spay and neuter clinic, a technique that will see veterinarians from the clinic travel to South Carolina in order to learn.
When implemented, the technique is expected to double the amount of spay and neuter operations the shelter is able to complete per day from 20 to 40.
The clinic will start out focusing primarily on cats, which have been received by the Human Society at overwhelming numbers.
Kingston Humane Society's Executive Director Gord Hunter says overpopulation is almost constantly a problem at the facility.
At a certain point, Hunter says, the shelter simply has to refuse accepting any animals that are not brought to them by the city.
Hunter says increasing the availability and affordability of spay/neuters in the city will help to curb that issue and allow the Humane Society to have a greater impact on animal welfare.
"It'll allow us to just get back to what would be a normal expectation of capacity which reduces the stress on staff and reduces the stress on the animals too," Hunter said.
"When the building is full the stress levels increase."
He added that this fall the Humane Society ramped up its' foster program in order to accommodate nearly 300 animals living in a space meant to house only 140 animals.
Although the foster program has helped, Hunter says animals are being stored in offices, hallways and other areas that make day to day operations more difficult and more stressful.
The procedure will begin focusing on solely cats, who make up 70% of the animals received by the shelter.
Hunter says feral cat colonies are an issue in the city, and although there are volunteer groups that do their best to care for them, there's simply too many and they face a tough life.
"Feral cats, they don't live a good life," Hunter said.
"You wouldn't wish that upon any animal because they're starving most of the time and when they're not starving they're dealing with diseases rampant around the feral cat colonies."
One of the biggest barriers to owners getting their pet spayed or neutered is the cost, which is a hurdle the Humane Society hopes to address.
Those who meet the low income threshold can also utilize the Municipal Fee Assistance Program through the City of Kingston and receive a $250 voucher towards a spay and neuter operation.
The Humane Society has also had to stop accepting volunteers to walk and play with animals during the COVID-19 pandemic, another job that staff have had to take upon themselves.
Hunter says expanding the capability of the spay and neuter clinic will result in a "cascade of positivity" for animal welfare in the shelter and city.
Though there have been many challenges for staff, recently Kingston's Humane Society has been one of many animal welfare organizations to benefit from the "Betty White Challenge", last week alone receiving upwards of $45,000 in donations.
Those who would like to add a donation can do so by cheque or online.