By Patrick McCallister
For Hometown News
DELAND-The DeLand City Commission is looking to make about $85,000 in cuts to the proposed 2012-2013 budget, but they won't come from efforts to curb unwanted puppies and kittens.
At its Monday, Aug. 6, meeting, commission members said they wanted to continue fully funding two programs to get animals spayed and neutered. However, the commission asked for a report on the Second Chance Animal Facility.
"We started the Second Chance (Animal Facility), Pet Vet Cruiser and the spay-and-neuter program all around the same time," Dale Arrington, assistant city manager, said after the meeting. "I think it is having an effect."
Ms. Arrington said while there's no way to quantify the success of spaying and neutering programs to reduce unwanted feral animal populations, and associated costs, she said there're fewer complaints about them since the programs started.
One of the programs the commission opted to keep and fully fund is a partnership with Volusia County's Pet Vet Cruiser. The city has for the past few years paid the county up to $5,000 annually to allow city residents to use the low-cost mobile spaying and neutering program. The program is usually open to qualifying low-income county residents only.
According to Dave Byron, county spokesperson, as of Aug. 1, 71 DeLand animals had been spayed or neutered at the Pet Vet Cruiser this fiscal year. The cost is $60 an animal. The city fund covers the difference between what a resident pays to spay or neuter an animal and $60. Byron said the city usually pays $45 an animal, since most participating residents qualify for the lowest pricing, $15 an animal.
Dogs and cats taken to the Pet Vet Cruiser are usually pets, although the mobile clinic will spay and neuter feral animals.
Mr. Byron said that at the beginning of this month there was $1,840 left in the city's fund for this fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30.
Another program the commission opted to continue is a feral animal spaying and neutering rebate program. In recent years, the city has set aside $5,000 a year to rebate individuals who get feral animals spayed or neutered for trap, neuter and release efforts. The city allows individuals or groups rebates on up to 10 spayings and neuterings a year.
This fiscal year, nine applicants have received rebates for spaying and neutering 51 animals. So far, the fund has spent $2,257, or about $45 an animal.
"You can't have free-roaming dogs in DeLand," Ms. Arrington said. "This program is for cats."
Commissioner Leigh Matusick said she's very supportive of the two programs. She said that the city paying about $45 an animal for spaying and neutering may sound like a lot, but she said there's an important fact to consider. Every spayed or neutered animal could mean dozens that the city's animal control officer will never have to deal with.
"That's quite a few animals that you know are not going to reproduce," she said. "I certainly think we're making a difference with that."