FoA’s spay/neuter program comes to the rescue during COVID-19

Thousands of cats and dogs across America have gotten lucky during the pandemic, finding their forever homes, and Friends of Animals’ low-cost spay/neuter program has been essential in getting some of them altered despite challenges such as long wait times for surgeries and an unreliable postal service to deliver spay-neuter certificates.

For instance, when Russell Burke contacted FoA because he had never received a certificate in the mail to get his cat neutered, we sprang into action to ensure that he and the veterinarian would have a copy of another certificate before the date of the surgery. The surgery was a success and Burke expressed his gratitude for the follow-up and help throughout the entire process.

“We have not let the pandemic impact our customer service. Our response rate hasn’t suffered and that is something we are proud of during such challenging times,” explained Priscilla Feral, president of FoA. 

From May 1 to Nov. 4, FoA sold 11,918 certificates, a 30 percent increase over the previous year, and that means fewer cats and dogs who will end up homeless and on the streets.

Stories, such as Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control that emptied one of its three dog kennels in April for the first time in its history, have been making headlines.

But the circumstances have not only been life changing for the pets; for the people taking them in—like Christina Cortez—it’s felt lifesaving.

“She has saved me during this pandemic and has taught me so much about rescuing and caring for young kittens,” Cortez says about her kitten she fondly named Runty. “I’m so glad we did put in the work and gave her a fighting chance. I fell in love with her and she is my happy and healthy baby now.”

She has been a source of joy and laughter in these otherwise uncertain, nerve-wracking times. “She is a very goofy, unstoppable little girl who is determined and doesn’t let her disabilities stop her one bit.”

Cortez, a pre-school teacher, explains that if the pandemic hadn’t forced her to be homebound, she would not have found Runty and been able to help her, and for that she is grateful. While spending extra time outside in her yard, she noticed a stray cat had given birth to a litter of kittens under her neighbor’s porch. After seeing that one was unable to use her back legs, Cortez felt compelled to do her part to help the feline family.

Runty was so small, she wasn’t sure she would survive, but the kitten was determined. After a few visits to the veterinarian, Runty was diagnosed with mild cerebellar hypoplasia.

“We worked every day trying to help her walk. Today she is almost six months old and able to walk and even go up and down the stairs,” Cortez said. “She hops and chases my other two Singapura cats around the house and is my shadow all day. She is very playful and loves chin rubs.”

When she decided to keep Runty, Cortez’s mother-in-law told her about Friends of Animals’ low-cost spay/neuter program.

Along with Runty, Cortez also took in two guinea pigs who were her class pets at the pre-school because the school could not care for them during the pandemic.

“We are now one big kitty, guinea pig family,” she says with a laugh.

Learn more about our spay and neuter program right here