It's a 'Pitty' — Operation Pit may end soon

By Connie A. Hewitt | May 14, 2014
Photo by: Haywood Spay/Neuter OPERATION PIT — Buster is just one of many pits helped through Operation Pit.

Operation Pit, a program that provides free surgery, rabies and distemper vaccines and free microchip IDs for owners of pit bulls and pit mixes, may end soon.

The program has been operating in Haywood County since January 2013 via Haywood Spay/Neuter, and was established because the county’s shelter intake data showed that a large percentage of pits and pit mixes that enter the shelter do not come out.

“Our own data showed that few owners of pit and pit mixes were among those taking advantage of our regular low costs to have their dogs fixed, even at the $10 level,” said Connie Hewitt, HS/N president. “By making the Operation Pit offer so incredible — free surgery, free vaccinations, free microchips — we hoped that pit owners would not be so reluctant to fix their dogs.”

The strategy worked, and in 2013, a record number of 223 pit/mixes were fixed. And the demand is still there — as of May 14, 60 pit and pit mixes have taken advantage of this program this year.

Unfortunately, the breed has been stereotyped. Adopters are reluctant to take a chance on pits, particularly adult pits. In 2013, 40 percent of pits and pit mixes entering the shelter were euthanized.

“We have some remaining grant monies to cover about 20 more pits under this program,” said Hewitt. “After that, unless more funding appears, we will have to retire this program. We will continue seeking grants and corporate support, but we really need the help of the public to keep this program going.”

“It makes economic sense for us to keep this program going in our county,” said Penny Wallace, treasurer at HS/N. “When we checked our data, most pit and pit mix owners we have seen had household incomes well below the 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. Ninety-eight of the 223 pets brought to us had owners on some type of government assistance, which means that their households had incomes below 150 percent of the federal guidelines. These pet owners can’t afford to visit a vet, much less pay for a surgical procedure. At least through us, they are fixed, vaccinated and go home to live happy and healthy lives.”

Those interested in keeping Operation Pit on the move should send donations, marked OpPit, to PO Box 992, Waynesville, NC  28786. Donate securely online at www.haywoodspayneuter.org.

Haywood Spay/Neuter is an IRS 501(c)(3) qualified charitable organization.  Gifts to Haywood Spay/Neuter are deductible in accordance with IRS rules regarding gifts to charities. Financial information about this organization and a copy of its license are available from the Charitable Solicitation Licensing Section at 1-888-830-4989. The license is not an endorsement by the state.

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