By Karen Powers, chairperson, Spay Worcester
The Spay Worcester Task Force is a coalition of Worcester citizens, Tufts Veterinary School and the Massachusetts Animal Coalition. The purpose of Spay Worcester is to humanly reduce the population of free roaming cats in a specific area of area of Worcester through a Spay/Neuter program and through public education. Due to a grant from Petsmart Charities and the tireless work of many volunteers this program is done at no cost to the people of Worcester.
When we first approached Barbara Haller about the possibility of starting a program in the Main South area she listened carefully, asked questions and then said “What can I do to help?” She pointed out that this type of program is beneficial not only to the cats but to their human families and caregivers.
She saw the value of the program in helping people with limited resources having their cats spayed, neutered and given rabies vaccines. This prevents the arrival of unwanted kittens and male cat fighting and marking, all behaviors that can result in people abandoning their pets. By assisting families with Spays & Neuters children learn that vetting is part of responsible pet ownership and breaking the cycle of disposable pets.
Main South is one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the city with a large population of economically challenged residents. It also has significant areas of vacant land and abandoned buildings that can become a shelter for these abandoned cats.
Once Barbara saw our commitment and the value of this program she became a staunch advocate for Spay Worcester. She introduced us to Mayor O’Brien (who became another great supporter). She introduced us to the people at the Main South CDC as well as Clark University, University Park Campus School, Worcester Public schools and several neighborhood groups.
Barbara introduced us to a great number of neighborhood residents and to people who were already feeding abandoned neighborhood cats. It is these people who are our major allies in helping these homeless cats. They identify the colonies and assist in trapping the cats and in watching the cats after they are returned. They also let us know when new cats arrive in the colony.
We are well on our way to our 2 year goal of Spaying and Neutering 1000 cats and a large amount of our success we owe to Councilor Baarbra Haller and her commitment to all that make up a community (including the fury four legged ones).