Raise the ‘WOOF’

SPOT helps spay and neuter dogs for low-income folks

Some rescue groups are more high profile than others. SPOT, aka Stop Pet Overpopulation Today, is more low key. The group serves low-income people who often don’t have smartphones or computers, a double-whammy in terms of getting word out for their services. And there’s the little bit of confusion with this magazine’s name! While the names are similar, the organizations are not affiliated.

The Eugene group’s biggest annual fundraiser is April 9, a 1920s-themed casino night to hopefully raise about $20,000 — enough to fund about half the surgeries planned for 2016.

“We reach out to folks who range from low-income to homeless,” says Joey Curtin, SPOT’s President. “We get a lot of referrals from veterinarians who know there’s just no way they can afford the services, so they know these animals aren’t going to get fixed.”

At almost 20 years old, SPOT has evolved over the years. In 2008 SPOT partnered with WAG, the Willamette Animal Guild spay neuter clinic. The existing SPOT board had been working to raise revenue to help all kinds of animals with various veterinary situations, but they were ready to retire. Curtin was on the WAG advisory board at the time, and she and the other concerned parties put their heads together.

“One of the many needs we saw was that there wasn’t an organization in Lane County raising money to get dogs fixed,” Curtin says. “A few were doing similar things for kitties, so we decided to take that piece and do something with it to help people with the cost of getting their dogs fixed.”

Since that time SPOT has helped fund surgeries for 3,200 dogs in Lane County, possibly 3,300 by now. “I’ve been saying 3,200 for several months and haven’t stopped to count!” Curtin smiles.

Donors can feel good about supporting SPOT. “We have no rent, no salaries, almost no overhead, a $14.95 a month phone line we all can tap into to pick up our calls, and just the expenses when we do a fundraiser,” says Curtin. “Consistently, 96 to 97 percent of every dollar we raise goes directly into spay-neuter vouchers. We want people to know that when they donate to us their money is really getting used.”

SPOT’s Roaring Twenties casino night is being produced by a company specializing in casino events, with professional catering. There will be black jack, roulette, craps, Texas Hold ‘Em, and a WOOF — Wheel of Outrageous Fortune. “It’s outrageous fun!” says Curtin, who encourages attendees to dress in ’20s attire.

People who haven’t gambled before needn’t feel intimidated, says Curtin. Friendly dealers are happy to teach and help, and it’s all in fun. Because the event is as dedicated to ‘fun’ as funds, dealers are likely to slip you an ace and cheat. Attendees will be provided “funny money” for playing, and more can be purchased if desired. At night’s end, winnings are exchanged for raffle tickets for high-end prizes.

In 2014, SPOT set a goal to spay or neuter 150 Pit Bulls at a cost of $10 each; they’re repeating that goal this summer. “Pit Bulls are the most prevalent species in the shelters for a lot of reasons,” says Curtin. “A primary one being their litters are so huge. The average Pit Bull will have between eight and 12 puppies. There also are a ton of puppy mill Pit Bull breeders. It’s a popular breed, but it’s also one that ends up in shelters more than any others, and they tend to not get adopted as easily as a lot of other dogs.”

At the other end of the spectrum, Chihuahuas are the second most common shelter breed, also due to puppy mill breeders. “We’re going to do a project in tandem with WAG in August to get those little guys fixed,” says Curtin. “We do all dogs every day, but when we see areas that really needs a serious focus we try to shine a spotlight on it.”

SPOT: Stop Pet Overpopulation Today  *  www.spotspayneuter.org

Vanessa Salvia's love for animals began as a child, when stray kittens just seemed to follow her home (who thankfully, her family accommodated). She lives on a sheep farm outside of Eugene OR, surrounded by dogs, cats, horses, chickens and kids.