Thanks to the success of WeSNiP, program coordinator Patricia Maass and a small army of volunteers are close to seeing an end to the euthanasia of healthy, adoptable cats and dogs in Whatcom County.
The Whatcom Humane Society recently honored WeSNiP with its annual Woof and Whiskers Award for extraordinary work to benefit animals.
A major fundraiser for the organization - one of its two, huge semi-annual garage sales - will be April 5-7 and 13-14 at Cascade Business Park, 5373 Guide Meridian, at the north end of Bellingham.
Question: Patricia, how effective has WeSNiP been?
Answer: The year we founded WeSNiP, almost 240 cats and about 40 dogs, all healthy and adoptable, were euthanized (by the humane society) for lack of space in 2008. But in 2012, 100 percent fewer such dogs (none) and 86 percent fewer such cats (about 30) were euthanized.
That's how effective our spay and neuter programs have become. In our first four years, about 11,000 free and low-cost spay and neuter procedures were done.
Q: What have been your biggest challenges?
A: We mostly help low-income and underserved rural residents of our county. But many of our target customers have problems, such as transportation, disabilities, isolation and lack of funds. So in January we decided to close our own spay and neuter clinic and focus specifically on three things: financial assistance; transportation for the animals; and a trap, spay/neuter and return program for feral cats.
Q: What organizations do you work with?
A: Two days each week we transport 24 animals to NOAH in Stanwood, leaving at 7:15 a.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays from the Salvation Army parking lot on Northwest Avenue.
We're also getting animals into the Whatcom Humane Society's SNAP program and to Maplewood (Animal) Hospital (in Bellingham). We're also willing to work with other organizations, with anyone who's willing to work with us.
Q: What are the financial parameters?
A: We screen for incomes, since we're looking for people who could not otherwise afford to have their animals spayed or neutered, or for those people who report a litter of dumped animals. Some people do offer donations along with their animals.
We're a nonprofit with the mission of serving the underserved in our county. Our vision is the end of euthanasia in Whatcom County of healthy, adoptable cats and dogs.
Q: When you (along with Karen Mueller and Chris Haulgren) founded WeSNip, could you have imagined such success?
A: I wouldn't have believed how much and how quickly WeSNiP has made this difference. But we have great volunteers. They have done such a great job with our garage sales. Our first sale raised $3,500 and our sale last fall raised about $20,000.
Q: What inspired you to help form WeSNiP?
A: I ran the foster care program for cats at the Whatcom Humane Society in 2003 to 2007. I could see how the animals could always breed faster than we could find homes for them.
For information about the WeSNiP garage sale, April 5-7 and 13-14 at Cascade Business Park, 5373 Guide Meridian, go to wesnip.org. Donation deadline: March 30. Details: 360-398-8262.
For information on how to get your dog or cat spayed or neutered, call 360-306-0345.