Kansas City unveils free pit bull spay, neuter program

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Pit bull owners in two Kansas City zip codes can now have their pets registered and spayed or neutered free of charge thanks to a new city program funded by a $100,000 grant from PetSmart charities.

The program allows residents of the 64130 and 64132 zip codes, which city officials estimate contain some 1,400 pit bull and pit bull mix dogs – the most in the city – to take their pets to one of three participating veterinarians in the metro. The vets will perform the surgery, which can cost as much as $100, free of charge to the pet owners, then bill the city – which will cover the costs through the grant.

Pet and pit bull advocates applauded the program on Wednesday, saying it would cut down on unwanted puppies that often end up on the streets or in shelters where they may struggle to find caring homes.

"The zip codes that are being specifically targeted are notorious for dogs not being taken care of to the standard that they need to be to help us get the pet population under control," Stephanie Pugh said, a volunteer for Missouri Pit Bull Rescue, which takes in stray, abused and unwanted dogs.

To Pugh, the breed has been maligned in the past but is gaining newfound popularity.

 "Ten years ago it was just negativity surrounding the breed," Pugh said. "Now positive stories are making the news all the time and people are coming into our shelters and coming into our rescues and saying these are great dogs," she said.

Pugh said the new problem would save the lives of dogs currently in shelters by cutting down on new puppies who would compete for space and attention in shelters with limited amounts of both.

"I think there are a lot of people out there that are just uneducated on how they go about spay and neutering their dog and why it's important," Pugh said.

At Spay and Neuter Kansas City, one of the veterinary offices that will perform the free surgeries, operations manager Amy Herrington agreed.

"This is going to help a lot of people do something that they would typically like to do, or do for the health and well-being of their pet but just simply can't afford to do it," Herrington said.

The free spay or neuter surgery is only for pit bull or pit bull-mix breeds and only for owners who can provide proof of residence in the 64130 or 64132 zip codes. The program will run until September of this year, or until the $100,000 has been spent.

Below are participating veterinarians:

- Spay & Neuter Kansas City, 1116 E. 59th St., Kansas City, Mo.

For information, call 816-353-0940 or visit www.snkc.net.

- Raytown Animal Hospital, 10401 E. 63rd St., Raytown, Mo.

For information, call 816-353-3666 or email htrdvm@yahoo.com.

- Northland Animal Welfare Society, 3400 NW Vivion Road, Riverside, Mo.

For information, call 816-336-1888 or visit www.pcnaws.org.

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