The BIG FIX aims to slow cat overpopulation
A cat wakes up from recovery at Sheltering Hands during The Big Fix program on Wednesday April 14, 2021 in Ocala, Florida. VOCAL, Sheltering Hands, The Humane Society of Marion County and Marion County Animal services teamed up to sterilize, micro chip, vaccinate, flea treat 300 cats. Dozens of volunteers helped VOCAL spay or neuter 150 owned cats while Sheltering hands spayed or neutered 150 feral cats all at no cost. This is the second year for the event. [Alan Youngblood/Special to Ocala Style]
The free services were part of the BIG FIX event, a partnership between the Marion County Humane Society, Marion County Animal Services, Sheltering Hands and Voices of Change Animal League (VOCAL).
At VOCAL’s facility, located at 6393 SW 52nd St., co-founder Linda Norman rallied her team of over 30 volunteers together at 6:30 a.m. VOCAL had 180 appointments scheduled for domestic cats.
Across town, Sheltering Hands filled 165 appointments to sterilize feral cats.
“We’re in the middle of kitten season, so this is perfect timing for this,” Norman said.
According to Norman, the collaborative effort began with fundraising.
The groups raised a combined $10,000 to fund the event. Each spaying or neutering costs between $35-$45 per feline.
Marion County Animal Services contributed the microchips for the event.
Norman said the procedures are usually straightforward.
“Female spays are a little more complicated,” Norman said. “Depends; some of them might be pregnant and the pregnancies have to be terminated, unfortunately. But it prevents more unwanted litters of kittens that don’t have any place to go.”
Norman said she’s been told there are between 40,000-60,000 unsterilized cats in Marion County. Sterilizing them is the most humane way to deal with the overpopulation issue.
“It is a big problem,” Norman said. “And unfortunately, there’s not enough shelter capacity to shelter them all.”
Not to mention, feral cats rarely fare well in shelters, Norman added.
The BIG FIX is slated to become a semi-annual event. Organizers are already eyeing a date in the fall.
“This is the first time VOCAL participated,” Norman said. “It happened last year. But we were not able to participate last year. But believe me, we’re going to be participating from now on.”