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Carroll County Neuterathon

Helping the helpless

Carrollton Animal Clinic raises
awareness about proper pet care

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

CARROLLTON, Ky. (April 2003) – Cathy Gilbert’s passion is homeless animals, especially companion pets such as cats and dogs. She has recently fulfilled a dream with the development of a project targeting animal overpopulation.
Gilbert said she was inspired last summer through a Creative Writing Class she attended at Jefferson Community College at the Carrollton Campus. Instructor Ron Whitehead asked his students to compose a book about themselves comprised of topics he assigned. One topic that hit home with Gilbert was, “What is your dream?”

Pryor and Gilbert

Photo by Helen E. McKinney

Dr. Muncey Pryor and Cathy Gilbert
at the Spay-Neuterathon.

She wrote about organizing spay-neuter clinics across the state. When the class ended, Gilbert said she wondered what would keep her from beginning that dream immediately.
She approached local veterinarians Dr. Muncey Pryor, Dr. Clark Sloane and Dr. Edward Mahoney of the Carroll County Animal Clinic with her idea. Receptive to her project, they gave Gilbert the green light to proceed with plans for the first Carroll County Dog and Cat Neuterathon.
Two dates were scheduled for January and two for March, with approximately 120 cats and dogs being spayed or neutered.
This was the first time the Carroll County Animal Clinic had participated in this type of project, said Pryor. “(Gilbert) really had a heart for it. She was really dedicated and sincere.” Coupled with her prior experience, “(Gilbert) has a real desire to cut down on the dog overpopulation,” he said.
“I designed this project,” said Gilbert. “Others may have done similar projects, however, mine was designed by me, for me. I had to keep it simple enough for one person to facilitate.”
Gilbert said she “organized the Carroll County Spay-Neuterathon not only to address the problems of homeless pets in my county, but also to set it up simply enough that others could do similar projects.”
As it turned out, Gilbert was not alone in her endeavor. From public donations by concerned citizens, businesses, industries and the support of Carroll County Fiscal Court, enough money was raised to make more affordable the costs of spay-neuter procedures to pet owners who needed assistance.
To spay cats the cost was $30; for neutering, $15. For dogs, the cost of spaying was $45 or $50, depending on weight; neutering was $30.
Pryor said Gilbert targeted those individuals who might not normally have their pets spayed and neutered, or who possibly couldn’t afford to do so. “She did it all. She went to businesses and individuals to raise money,” he said.
Gilbert received approximately $1, 800, which she used to compensate the clinic for its time and efforts taken to perform the surgeries.
Pryor said she raised community awareness about spay-neutering procedures through advertising and talking to the community firsthand. “It’s the owners’ responsibility, but a lot of people neglect it.” Gilbert has possessed a humane attitude toward animals and worked on their behalf for quite some time in Carroll County. She was the founding president of the Carroll County Humane Society, which existed from 1990 to 1996. In this venue, Gilbert and her volunteers offered vouchers to be redeemed with area vets for spaying and neutering procedures.
“We promoted humane education through visiting classrooms and purchasing humane materials for every Carroll County public school,” she said. “We raised money for these initiatives, plus supported an effort to help fiscal court build an animal shelter.”
For this project, Gilbert had a student mentor at all four clinics. Hilary Carlisle, a junior at Carroll County High School, said Gilbert gave her the opportunity to work with animals firsthand.
“It was a good experience,” Carlisle said. Carlisle plans to pursue veterinary medicine in college and said the clinics provided her with a “do or die” situation. It was an eye-opening experience, convincing Carlisle she’s pursuing the right career. She said she would assist Gilbert in any future projects, if necessary.
As happens to many volunteers in this line of work, Gilbert soon burned out from her volunteering efforts with the Carroll County Humane Society. “The needs are overwhelming and all-consuming,” she said.
Unable to find someone to continue what she had begun, Gilbert had to disband the Carroll County Humane Society. But she remains active with larger organizations, such as the Kentucky Animal Control Association and the Humane Society of the United States.
Due to the time consuming effort it took to coordinate this project, Gilbert does not anticipate organizing another clinic this year but is hopeful that the project will continue with another clinic in 2004.
“We made only a small wave in the big ocean of animal overpopulation, but it is a start. I hope pet owners learned something by this example,” she said. “I believe everyone can do something for those who can do nothing but wait for our help.”

• Gilbert is available to advise other communities either by phone or through public speaking. Call her at (502) 732-5185 via or email at: gilbertc@weight-watchers.com.

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