By Ralph Echtinaw
Gratiot Animals In Need has added six hours per week of office availability to better serve local animal lovers.
You may now speak in person to GAIN founder Marie A. Green or one of several volunteers from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays in their office behind the Ways of the West store on M-46 west of St. Louis.
You can phone GAIN at 875-2286 anytime but may have to leave a message. If so, Green and company vow to call you back within 48 hours.
Last year GAIN held 22 clinics in which 782 cats were spayed or neutered. Since GAIN’s founding in 2014, a total of 3,752 cats have been fixed.
GAIN also provides homes for free roaming cats and helps low-income people pay vet bills and feed their cats.
GAIN services go beyond spaying and neutering to include, de-worming, flea treatment and inoculations twice a month from February through November.
This year’s clinics will be on Feb. 24, March 23, April 6 and 20, May 4 and 18, June 8 and 22, July 6 and 20, Aug. 10 and 24, Sept. 14 and 28, Oct. 12 and 26.
The cost is $35 for owned cats and $10 for free-roaming cats. Rabies and distemper shots are $10 each. De-worming and flea treatment are $5 each.
Free roaming cats that aren’t fixed are a particular problem for area residents because the females can have kittens as often as four times a year. “Cats can have their first litter at four months old,” Green said. “And from then on they’re either pregnant or having kittens.”
If you would like to have free roaming cats in your neighborhood fixed, you can borrow a live trap from GAIN.
Often times the free roaming cats will be returned to where they were captured. Without humans, cats form “colonies,” and “The best environment is for the cats to return to their own colony,” Green said.
GAIN does not spay and neuter dogs at these clinics but will give you a voucher ($45-$50 for small dogs, $100 for large dogs) that you can use with any area veterinarian to have your dog fixed.
GAIN also has a Cat Conservation Corps program, where free roaming cats are placed all over central Michigan where people need barn cats, warehouse cats or just a garage cat to keep the rodent population under control.
Free roaming cats are not necessarily feral cats, Green said. Many of them visit several homes in a given area for handouts.
“They will have three or four places that they visit. And those people all feed them and all think they’re the only ones. But it’s visiting all those places and getting food at all those places.”
Many of the GAIN cats end up being sold at Soldan’s and Pet Smart in Mt. Pleasant. The cost $70, which all goes to GAIN and pays the cost of making the cat healthy and unable to reproduce.
“We don’t believe in free cats,” Green said. “Our cats are spayed and neutered. They’re microchipped. They have their vaccinations. They’re flea treated, and they’re wormed. We want them to go to a home that’s going to care for them. We charge $70 per cat, and we get it.”
GAIN has a Companion Program to help low-income people hang onto their pets even when it’s hard to make ends meet. This program applies to dogs, too.
“We will pay for the office call to have that cat or dog looked at to determine what that physical issue is,” Green said. “If it’s not treatable we will help with euthanasia.” The Companion Program helped 45 pet owners last year.
Dog and cat food is available at the GAIN headquarters at Way of the West for people who have trouble affording to feed their cats and dogs. Some 137 people took advantage of the free food program last year.
The officers of GAIN are Green (president and treasurer), Martinez (secretary), Julie Mouser (vice president) and Deb Martin and Mary Humm. Beyond that there are eight to ten active members.
Most of them have been with GAIN for years. “Everybody has stuck with it,” Green said. “Everybody has stayed.”
“We don’t want any accolades,” Martinez said. “We’re just so happy with what we’ve been able to do.”
If you’d like to donate to GAIN, send a check to the organization at 1346 E. Buchanan, Ithaca, MI 48847.