Central Alberta Humane Society is ringing in the New Year with two new projects – a 50/50 lottery and a low-income spay/neuter program.
For the Love of Animals Lottery tickets are on sale now until Jan. 31. The grand prize is a minimum of $12,500 and a maximum of $31,250. Second prize is $1,000, and third prize is $500.
Only 4,250 tickets will be printed. They are bundled into prize packs of one ticket for $25, three for $50, five for $75 and eight for $100. Winners will be drawn Feb. 5.
Executive director Tara Hellewell said other humane society’s have seen success with lotteries, and it’s a great way to raise money for animals as well as give back to people. Everybody loves a lottery.
She said down the road, CAHS wants the grand prize to grow.
“People talk about pets being family, yet here we sit with waiting lists full of animals but no funding to actually support the care that’s needed. They’re not disposable things. They’re living beings and living creatures. We have to care for them so we have to find the money from somewhere,” Hellewell said.
She said CAHS runs an annual $1.2 million budget. The public is generous, but fundraising can be a struggle.
“There are so many animals and people depending on us so we have to make it work.”
To assist pet owners, the society is also developing a low-income spay/neuter program that is expected to start in February. Up to 200 procedures a year could be done.
“We would encourage people to start letting us know if they’re interested now, and we can put them on a list to let them know the application process.”
Pet owners will still have to pay a small fee and must be on AISH, receive social assistance, or be below the federal low income cut off before taxes. Proof of eligibility is required.
Hellewell said at one point this year there were 400 cats on the waiting list to get into the animal shelter.
“We’re plum full. We’ve had more kittens this season than we’ve had for years.”
Dogs are included in the spay/neuter program, but cats are the target. Pet owners want to be responsible, but the cost of spaying or neutering a pet can cost between $300 and $800, she said.
“We receive five to 10 calls a day from people who say I can’t afford to do this.”
Whisker Rescue has a year-round subsidized program for low income earns to cover half the cost of spaying and neutering males and females cats, and another program to pay the entire cost for male cats only. The City of Red Deer has a program to help pay the cost for spaying and neutering dogs. Together with CAHS’s new program, the problem will start to be addressed, she said.
Some say people who don’t have the money shouldn’t have a pet, but CAHS takes issue with that argument.
“We don’t agree that people should be denied the opportunity to have the love and companionship of an animal because they’re on low income or fixed income. But it does mean that we then have a responsibility to try and help them with some of the issues and challenges they’ll face as a pet owner,” Hellewell said.