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Thursday , 24 September 2020
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Judith (left) and Aurora (right) have both been through the LLBRHS' SNIP program.

SNIP Program in LLB flooded with applicants

Lac La Biche Regional Humane Society (LLBRHS) is needing more donations to support the high demand of their Spay Neuter Incentive Program (SNIP). 

The program was designed to keep the pet population down, lower the amount of unwanted animals that come into the shelter, and create an affordable spay and neuter option for everyone. 

SNIP started back in February, which was Spay and Neuter Awareness Month. The LLBRHS took the opportunity to announce the program then and to get the application process started. In their first month of running the program, the LLBRHS had 121 applications.

“The initial response to the program was very positive, and a tad overwhelming,” said MJ Siebold, the Board Chairperson for LLBRHS.

“With the amount of applications we got, it definitely demonstrated to us that there’s a clear need for low cost spay and neuter initiatives in our region.” 

Normally a spay or neuter procedure could cost anywhere from $200 to $350 depending on the size and species of a pet, but through SNIP it will only cost $20. 

So far the SNIP program has spayed and neutered 45 animals — this can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic becoming more prominent during the beginning stages of the program, changing how the new shelter program was having to be run.

Covid-19 hit during the first few weeks of application approvals, making it difficult for applicants to get appointments. The donations slowed as well when the pandemic started,” said Siebold.   

“COVID-19 impacted the region and the world with a massive economic downturn that we anticipate will take many months, if not years, to recover from. People are without work, so it is really difficult to continue to ask for donations when people are struggling to support themselves and their families.”

The SNIP program relies solely on donations, sponsors, and volunteers. Which is why when COVID-19 hit, it decreased the number of animals they could spay/neuter and slowed down the application process since more people were less willing to part with their money in such a financially unpredictable time. 

“Financial impacts have taken a toll on residents and businesses, and have limited our ability to continue to raise funds and collect donations for programs such as SNIP,” said Siebold.

“At the beginning of the program, it didn’t take long for applicants to be approved for the program — they only waited less than a month, but since then things have been much slower. With several still on waitlist and slowed donations, it may be some time before we clear our current wait list.”

To date, SNIP has received around $5,500 in donations and $2,200 in application fees which also go towards the cost of the surgeries. Despite COVID-19 causing financial stress on the new program, Siebold is appreciative of what has been donated, and the benefits the program has brought to the community.

“We have prevented at least eight immediate litters that we know of, in cats that were in heat at the time they were spayed, with long term impact being far greater,” said Siebold. 

“This program is definitely needed to help reduce unwanted cat populations in our region.”

Becky Boucher, a Lac La Biche resident who put her cat Judith through the SNIP program, is grateful there was a low-cost option in the hamlet.

“This is an awesome program for people who can’t afford to fix their animal, let alone take care of a whole entire new litter,” said Boucher.

“I can’t express how relieved we were to not have to worry about letting her outside. This has definitely benefited our family and our fur baby. We appreciate it so much.”

LLBRHS is hoping to have the SNIP program continue for years to come.

“We established this program because we so often heard that people didn’t spay or neuter their pets or barn cats as it was simply too expensive,” said Siebold.

“We are hoping to continue the program, as well as increase awareness, education, and outreach efforts in the community. Our goal is to discuss the benefits of spaying and neutering, and we are confident that we will see a reduction in applications each year, as well as the numbers of unwanted animals coming to the shelter.”

Due to the high volume of applications, the SNIP program is currently not accepting anymore applications at this time.

To donate to the SNIP program, or sponsor a spay/neuter, visit the LLBRHS donations page on their website.

About Bianca Mazziotti

Bianca Mazziotti is a York University graduate with a Professional Writing degree, who found a passion in reporting. She was fortunate enough to get a reporting job in the beautiful hamlet of Lac La Biche, and she has loved learning about the town and the people in it.