CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Supporters and potential supporters had the opportunity to learn more about the fledgling Charleston Regional Spay Neuter Center during an informational meeting at the YMCA.
The group of more than two dozen women came Tuesday armed with questions and hopes for the new facility. Some were longtime animal rescuers. Some were new to animal advocacy and were just interested to see if they could help.
Lisa Mitchell, president of the clinic's board, went public with the group's plans last month during a board meeting at the Kanawha Charleston Humane Association. The goal is to open a high quality, high volume facility in the Charleston area where cats and dogs could be sterilized or neutered at low cost.
Mitchell said they're using a model similar to that of Humane Alliance, a facility in Asheville, N.C., that has made great strides in reducing the animal population and lowering shelter euthanasia rates.
The clinic would be high quality, she said, and adhere to the Association of Shelter Veterinarians' Veterinary Medical Care Guidelines. In addition to sterilizations, animals also could receive some preventative care measures at the clinic.
It would cost about $500,000 to build and open the facility, and Mitchell said it's still in the beginning stages. The nonprofit has a business license and is putting together a budget.
They also have been fundraising and are hoping to begin approaching private foundations. They also plan to apply for grants aimed at supporting animal related causes. Mitchell said the group has raised about $2,000 from a rummage sale and donations.
Currently, there isn't any such facility in Kanawha County. Cabell County has Help For Animals, a low-cost, high volume spay/neuter facility, which currently is used by a number of rescues and trap and release programs to sterilize animals.
A clinic is nearing completion in Wood County based on the same program model the local group plans to use, Mitchell said.
Cheri Capuano, president of the Boone Animal Rescue Coalition (BARC), came to the meeting with several others who were interested to learn about the center.
"It's what we need around here," said Capuano, who lives in Foster. "It's the cure to the biggest problem we have. People down in Boone County, if they can't afford to take care of their pets, they don't."
Their group formed officially about a year ago after seeing the local shelter put down more than 100 dogs per month while only adopting out a handful.
BARC has pulled hundreds of dogs from the shelter and found them homes. The group also takes animals to Help For Animals in Barboursville once a month to get them sterilized.
Capuano said it would be easier if a facility offering those services was closer to home. She said it seemed like the group was in the beginning stages but she hoped the clinic's doors would open sooner rather than later.
"I can see the impact we're having and I can only imagine what it would be with this place," Capuano said. "It'd be a miracle."
Charleston resident Madeline Berry is just getting her feral cat trap and return program, Feral Paws, off the ground but wanted to learn more about the clinic. She said to her knowledge the closest facility is Help For Animals. She plans to take 12 cats there Monday.
"We don't really have a vet in the area that does that many at once," Berry said.
Kay Rotz came from Dunbar to learn about the project. A cat owner who walks dogs once a month at a local shelter, she said overpopulation is a concern. She came away from the informational meeting with positive thoughts.
"I commend the few who have started this," Rotz said. "It's spay and neuter that stops (overpopulation).
"It's a way to get it under control and the pets are happier once it's done. Less pressure on them."
Mitchell thought the meeting went well and was pleasantly surprised with the number of people who attended. She said most in attendance didn't know what to expect.
The group will have an information booth set up Saturday at the Kanawha Charleston Humane Association's Halloween Pet Parade at the East End Dog Park in Charleston. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information visit www.charlestonspayneuter.com or visit their Facebook page at "Charleston Regional Spay Neuter Center."
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.cr...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4850.