Thanks in part to Turners Falls shelter, state spay/neuter voucher program reaches milestone

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter at 10 Sandy Lane in Turners Falls has cared for about 100 animals as part of the state’s spay/neuter voucher program.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter at 10 Sandy Lane in Turners Falls has cared for about 100 animals as part of the state’s spay/neuter voucher program. STAFF FILE PHOTO

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter at 10 Sandy Lane in Turners Falls has cared for about 100 animals as part of the state’s spay/neuter voucher program.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter at 10 Sandy Lane in Turners Falls has cared for about 100 animals as part of the state’s spay/neuter voucher program. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter at 10 Sandy Lane in Turners Falls has cared for about 100 animals as part of the state’s spay/neuter voucher program.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter at 10 Sandy Lane in Turners Falls has cared for about 100 animals as part of the state’s spay/neuter voucher program. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter at 10 Sandy Lane in Turners Falls has cared for about 100 animals as part of the state’s spay/neuter voucher program.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter at 10 Sandy Lane in Turners Falls has cared for about 100 animals as part of the state’s spay/neuter voucher program. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter at 10 Sandy Lane in Turners Falls has cared for about 100 animals as part of the state’s spay/neuter voucher program.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter at 10 Sandy Lane in Turners Falls has cared for about 100 animals as part of the state’s spay/neuter voucher program. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 03-17-2024 6:01 PM

TURNERS FALLS — The state Department of Agricultural Resources recently announced it has cared for at least 20,000 animals through its spay/neuter voucher program since 2012, and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter estimates about 100 of those animals were treated here.

Shelter Director Leslee Colucci said spaying and neutering is crucial to controlling the stray animal population, noting that cats can have two or three litters each year, with up to eight kittens per litter. The state Division of Animal Health has focused on administering vouchers through the Massachusetts Animal Fund to provide veterinary care to dogs and cats owned by low-income residents and those housed in municipal animal control facilities.

“They have a lot of people applying,” said Colucci, who has been the director since the shelter was founded 13 years ago. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter became the Massachusetts Animal Fund’s newest municipal partner late last year.

According to the state, the Massachusetts Animal Fund turns voluntary contributions on Line 33F of state income tax returns into resources for the state’s most vulnerable pet population. The fund’s voucher program works with a collaborative network of municipal animal control officers and veterinary providers. The fund also provides free training opportunities and support to animal control officers to better serve their communities and provide uniform enforcement of animal control laws.

The state reports the need for veterinary services remains steady as the fund has at least 650 cats and dogs on the waitlist to receive voucher assistance in 2024. In response to this, the fund is soliciting new veterinary providers and municipal partners to join the network. Reimbursement rates were recently increased and in 2023, partner responsibilities were clarified to ensure veterinary providers are adequately compensated for their services and to give additional access options to underserved municipalities.

The shelter at 10 Sandy Lane in Turners Falls is the brainchild of Christopher Donelan, who was sworn in as sheriff in January 2011. He said he approached the county’s police chiefs about a starting a collaborative relationship and learned the area sorely lacked a place for stray, troublesome or unwanted dogs that officers found while on duty. Donelan mentioned he received grant money from the Gov. Deval Patrick administration “and we’ve been doing it ever since.” Hundreds of canines have been brought in to be treated and cared for while staff members try to find them forever homes.

A cat named Stella received the 20,000th free spay/neuter voucher from the fund to start 2024, according to the state. The voucher was issued to cover the cost of a spay surgery following the diagnosis of a life-threatening uterus infection known as pyometra. The veterinary team at the MSPCA Nevins Farm in Methuen completed the emergency voucher surgery.

“This milestone highlights the success of an extremely effective local and state partnership that has benefited communities across the state by promoting responsible pet ownership and improving animal welfare,” Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Ashley Randle said in a statement. “Thank you to the 305 cities and towns and the 74 veterinary providers and municipal partners all over Massachusetts that have worked with us to get these important resources out to our animals in need.”

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Charlemont planners approve special permit for Hinata Mountainside Resort
Fire at Rainbow Motel in Whately leaves 17 without a home
$338K fraud drains town coffers in Orange
Hotfire Bar and Grill to open Memorial Day weekend in Shelburne Falls
Greenfield residents allege sound and odor issues from candle, cannabis businesses
Inaugural book festival looks to unite Stoneleigh-Burnham School with broader community

More information about donating to the Massachusetts Animal Fund can be found at mass.gov/animalfund.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or
413-930-4120.