Help is available to TIMES NEWS area residents who own a pet and need to have it spayed or neutered.

Susie Yaich, who is part owner of Jim Thorpe Pet Center and co-founder of Carbon County Friends of Animals in Jim Thorpe, said that there are many options for pet owners who can't afford to take their pet to a veterinarian to get it spayed or neutered.

"There are a lot of people in this area that have feral cats on their properties that they can't take to regular veterinarians to spay and neuter, so they are out there breeding," she said. "Plus we have other people, because of poor economy, who cannot afford to take cats or dogs to their regular vet for these services. Right now, especially because of the warmer winter that we had, those kitties have been out there breeding and we are already seeing pregnant cats come into the shelter."

She noted that last year, she began partnering with Eastern Pennsylvania Animal Alliance in Brodheadsville to bring a low-cost spay and neuter program for cats only to Jim Thorpe Pet Center. The program is currently held on the second Monday of every month at the pet center.

"Having the clinic in Jim Thorpe once a month gives the people who live here an opportunity to get it done without traveling a great distance," Yaich said.

Costs for spaying or neutering a pet cat is $60, which also includes vaccines; or around $35 for feral cats. But, Yaich said, the cost for feral cats may be discounted, depending on how many felines are brought in by that resident. People who would like to spay/neuter a feral cat are responsible for catching the animal.

There are no income or residence guidelines for the spay and neutering program.

To set up an appointment, call EPAA at (570) 994-5846.

Yaich added that since the program was started in September the clinics have been full. She noted that if the need for the program rises, they will consider holding the spay and neuter clinics at the pet center twice a month.

"We really need to get these cats spayed and neutered," Yaich said. "It's very important that these cats get done. Shelters are not good places for little kittens to be and when a cat is not spayed or neutered and ends up with a litter, it is getting harder and harder to find people to take the kittens, so they end up in shelters and the mortality rate for them is high of their not-yet established immune systems.

"We can help control the population if we spay and neuter the cats," she continued.

In addition to the monthly low-cost clinics in Jim Thorpe, Yaich explained that there are other organizations who also offer low-cost spay and neuter services for both cats and dogs.

Ÿ The Amazing Grace Spay/Neuter Program, Lehighton, is available to Carbon County residents who meet the guidelines for the services. For more information, call (570) 778-6886.

Ÿ Forgotten Felines and Fidos, Germansville, offers low-cost services for both dogs and cats. For more information on the program and costs for services, visit http://www.forgottenfelines.org/35.html [1] or call (610) 760-9009.

Ÿ No Nonsense Neutering, Allentown, provides spay and neuter services; as well as other same day procedures. For more information on services and costs, or to set up an appointment, call (866) 820-2510 or visit http://www.nnnlv.org [2].

Ÿ The Center for Animal Health and Welfare, Easton, offers clinics for both cats and dogs and is open to the public. In addition to spaying and neutering the animal, owners can also get the pet vaccinated, microchipped, and flea/tick or heartworm medication.

To schedule an appointment call (610) 252-7722, ext. 8; or visit http://www.spcanorthampton.org/clinic.asp [3].

Ÿ Peaceable Kingdom, Whitehall, offers low-cost spay/neuter clinics; as well as Trap, Neuter and Release services for feral cats. For more information or a list of services, call (610) 432-2532.