There was a steady stream of traffic through the Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control parking lot Saturday morning as participants in this year's Neuter for a Nickel dropped off their male cats.
This is the sixth year for the event and, unlike past years, it targeted the Z IP codes that have dropped off the most cats to the shelter in the past year.
Unfortunately, Laura Rowe, Animal Care supervisor, said Saturday there didn't seem to be as much interest in these areas to get their cats neutered. So last week, they opened up the event.
Last year, 1,200 people signed up, with 800 cats neutered. This year, they had 450 people sign up. Rowe said there is generally a 25-30 percent no-show rate, which meant about 350 cats would likely be seen.
Peggy Bender, the community relations and education specialist for Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control, said they do these annual clinics to give people who typically can't afford to neuter their cats a chance to get it done. Donations from the public and occasional grants fund it. The hope is neutering will cut down on the number cats that are turned in every year, leading to a lower euthanasia rate.
Four area veterinarians donated their time to the project as did 70 volunteers.
Owners began arriving at around 7 a.m. Once the cats were checked in and verified to be male, they are looked over to make sure they can withstand the surgery. The cats are then sedated, the hair is removed from the surgical area by plucking, and then it's off to surgery.
The procedure takes only a few minutes, explained veterinarian Helga Beck, who had done close to 40 procedures by 9:45 a.m. Once the cats are out of surgery, they are taken to a recovery area where they receive an antibiotic.
Volunteers kept an eye on them as they come out of the anesthesia, stroking and massaging them. Most of the animals looked dazed and groggy; one feisty cat spit and hissed, trying to get away, as he suddenly came to.
Once the animals were safely awake, they were returned to their owners.
Bender said those who were unable to come to the one-day clinic can still visit the two low-cost, spay-and-neuter clinics in town, the Spay and Neuter Clinic, 1313 Broadway, and H.O.P.E. For Animals, 1333 Maycrest Drive.