NEPA Animal Welfare Collaborative Spay Neuter Effort a Success Members News October 28, 2021 On Thursday, October 28th the NEPA Animal Welfare Collaborative will host its last of three spay-neuter clinics in honor of Feral Cat Month. This spay-neuter clinic series, sponsored by the NEPA Animal Welfare Collaborative (AWC) in partnership with the Eastern Pennsylvania Animal Alliance (EPAA), covers over 80 percent of the associated spay/neuter and vaccine costs for cats. The event will be held from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Keyser Valley Community Center (103 N Keyser Avenue, Scranton) in Lackawanna County. Nearly 150 cats in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties will have been spayed or neutered by end of day Thursday, received rabies and FVRCP vaccinations and other treatment such as flea/tick and related care. The cost for these services is $10 for domestic cats and $5 for feral cats. The final day in the series is slated to serve 45 cats in Lackawanna County. The pause on spay/neuter surgeries during COVID-19 has significantly increased the need for these low-cost services, as evidenced by appointments booking up very quickly. About two-thirds of the cats served are domestic cats and one-third feral or stray cats that will be trapped, neutered and released. The low-cost spay-neuter events were developed as part of the strategic plan of the NEPA Animal Welfare Collaborative, a collective of animal shelters, rescues, advocates and sanctuaries who come together to improve the lives of animals in our region. The NEPA AWC was established in 2019 as an initiative of the Scranton Area Community Foundation. The purpose of Feral Cat Month is to create awareness and educate the public about the outdoor cats that live in our communities. It encourages people to care for, and help humanely reduce, the population of feral cats. One important strategy is Trap-Neuter-Release or “TNR” which provides a humane alternative to “catch and kill” for cats who cannot be placed in shelters or homes. Other priority areas of the NEPA AWC include enhancing the availability of quality foster homes for homeless animals, establishing best practices for the care of animals and providing more resources and training opportunities for rescues and shelters. Funding for the NEPA AWC is provided by grants from foundations as well as donations from the public. To date, the NEPA AWC has hosted a pet food pantry in 2020 that served over 560 pet owners and their companion animals, helping many people to keep their pets during challenging economic times. The collaborative has also held advocacy trainings with state and national organizations and established a code of ethics to guide recommended practices for animal care settings. It has also taken on an advocacy role in support of educating the public on the problems with puppy mills. The NEPA AWC also works with other organizations in the state of PA and on a national level to coordinate efforts. The NEPA AWC is working diligently on additional initiatives to humanely reduce the feral cat populations in Lackawanna County and surrounding areas through trap-neuter-release programs and educational workshops. It has also supported the development of a NEPA Rescue Vet – still in the planning stages – which aims to help address the veterinary shortage in NEPA by offering low-cost appointments for animals in shelters, rescue or sanctuaries that are part of the Collaborative. In the spring of 2022, the NEPA AWC also plans to host a NEPA Animal Welfare and Animal Care Expo. Convened by the Scranton Area Community Foundation, the NEPA Animal Welfare Collaborative includes over 30 organizations, shelters, rescues and community advocates in Lackawanna, Luzerne and surrounding counties in Northeast Pennsylvania. These include Scranton Animal Shelter Association, Animal Care Associates, Griffin Pond Animal Shelter, Pawsitively for the Animals, NEPA Pet Rescue, Indraloka Animal Sanctuary and others. The NEPA AWC’s Vision is to set the standard for all animal welfare initiatives in NEPA and to work together, utilizing available resources to improve both the care and lives of animals. The Mission of the is to work on initiatives aimed at ensuring animals in NEPA achieve a happy and healthy life—free from abuse and neglect. Those involved in animal rescue often do this work in addition to holding other jobs, and their free time is limited. The Collaborative works to ensure that resources are targeted to the needs of people that carry out this important work so that they can be effective caregivers to the animals they serve. The collaborative aims to help members develop effective grant writing, nonprofit policy/law, advocacy and other important skills. Scranton Area Foundation President and CEO Laura Ducceschi states, “Animal welfare is a popular philanthropic interest, but it may sometimes be difficult to know where resources are best allocated. The NEPA Animal Welfare Collaborative continues to connect and coordinate efforts between those working in or volunteering in the animal welfare community with national and state resources, and with those who want to philanthropically support the welfare of animals.” In addition to the NEPA Animal Welfare Collaborative, the Scranton Area Community Foundation spearheads initiatives such Women in Philanthropy, NEPA Moves, NEPA Gives, the Center for Community Leadership and Nonprofit Excellence, and the NEPA Equitable Housing Collaborative.