STEPHEN HEMELT — Nederland’s Spay & Neuter Program offers cost assistance

Published 6:33 am Monday, February 3, 2020

There is nothing more tragic for animal lovers than seeing abandoned and mistreated pets.

Smart decision-making on the front end and a forward thinking approach can help curtail overpopulation, which often leads to the concerns mentioned above.

It’s a concept put in practice by the City of Nederland with a goal of avoiding the worst-case scenario.

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“We try as best we can to not have to put down animals,” City Manager Christopher Duque said. “That is why we have our Facebook page, where we try to get these animals returned home or we try to find them a new home or we try to find them some sort of private shelter that will take them in to continue those efforts.”

Nederland is also pushing its community spay and neuter program.

The city will pay a portion — and in some cases, all — of the cost associated with spaying and neutering cats and dogs.

The program was launched in 2016 but went underutilized last year as some of the original applicants never followed through.

Monetary assistance is offered to households with less than $100,000 in yearly income.

Those interested must fill out an application, provide proof of residency and a copy of a utility bill in the applicant’s name that matches the address on the application.

There is a sliding scale on the financial assistance depending on where the income level falls.

“If you are what we classify as extremely low income, there is no cost,” Duque said. “If you are very low income, and it’s all based on the number of individuals in your household, you would pay $10. If you are low income, you would pay $20. If you are above low income, you pay $40. The remaining cost is picked up by the city and it just depends on the subsidy that we provide.”

Duque was extremely complimentary of the help Nederland receives from veterinarians, including Dr. David Willie of Animal Hospital of Mid County and Dr. Aaron Spiegel of Spurlock Road Veterinary Clinic.

Both provide the lowest cost possible for the procedure.

“We would like a controlled pet population as best we can,” Duque said. “We have people that even tell us, ‘this isn’t my cat, it’s a neighborhood cat and I’d rather get it fixed then it having litters of kittens that are all over the neighborhood.’ We work with people in that regard.”

The effort to control the stray dog and cat population is a public benefit, one that is all the more effective as greater numbers of concerned citizens get involved.

Nederland leaders are especially pushing timeliness this year, as not all available funds were utilized in 2019.

“Once we give notice that [your application] is being approved and your paperwork is ready to go and you come get it, we are going to provide 60 days for that individual to get the procedure completed,” Duque said. “We don’t want it to drag out and the books showing the money is gone but [the applicants] never actually spent the money because they never followed through with the procedure. We had that come up last year and had to turn people away because, according to the books, all the money had been spent. But without those people following through, it really wasn’t spent.”

City officials don’t want the help to stop because people aren’t following through with the program, so they’re stressing a 60-day process, then moving on to the next applicant.

The city’s Spay & Neuter Program begins today (Feb. 3). Up to three pets per approved application, and applications are turned into the City Manager’s Office at City Hall, 207 N. 12th St. Call 409-723-1503 for more information.

Stephen Hemelt is publisher of The Port Arthur News. He can be reached at 409-721-2445 or