A unique, proactive initiative to reduce the number of unwanted animals in Gregg County hit a milestone earlier this month.
The Spay It Forward program, which started in the August 2021, recently gave its 1,000th voucher to help fund the spaying or neutering of dogs and cats. Each voucher covers up to $100 towards the procedure at participating veterinarians.
“Everything we do at the shelter once an animal arrives is reactive,” said Chris Kemper, animal services manager and director of the Longview Animal Care and Adoption Center (LACAC). “This program allows us to proactively address one of the causes of unwanted animals in our community.”
Kemper said about 70 percent of the vouchers given out are used. Since its launch, the voucher program has prevented the birth of thousands of unwanted animals, as just one unspayed female dog and her offspring can produce more than 7,500 puppies in a period of four years.
Spay It Forward is a partnership between LACAC and Longview Pets Are Worth Saving (PAWS), a nonprofit that helps raise money and fund the shelter programs including Spay It Forward.
The program has been primarily funded by the generous support of individuals. Also, LACAC sells Spay It Forward t-shirts, and every four cover the cost of a voucher. But now that it has demonstrated a need, Kemper hopes businesses and organizations will join the initiative.
“This is a community problem, and community problems need community solutions,” Kemper said.
Jackie Reynolds, executive director of Longview PAWS, said additional recurring donations could help the initiative expand.
“We’ve seen a significant growth in demand for the vouchers this year. If we want to continue to reach people through this program, we need ongoing support from individuals and businesses in our community,” she said.
Additional funding could also be used to promote the program and let more of Gregg County know the option is available, she said.
Kemper hopes other area communities will see the success of the initiative and implement it in their own communities.
The Spay It Forward initiative is open to all households with an annual income of less than $50,000 and covers $100 towards spay or neuter services at participating veterinarians. Applicants must be residents of Gregg County or a City served by the Longview Animal Care and Adoption Center including Longview, Kilgore, Gladewater or White Oak. Some exceptions may apply.
For more information on the program, how to obtain a voucher or learn how to support the program, visit LongviewTexas.gov/Spay.