Crowd Control: How CAAP works to put a cap on pet overpopulation

Edited by Ammie Bryant

While puppies and kittens are adorable, what is not so cute is an exploding pet population that leads to abandoned dogs and cats filling struggling animal shelters. Even uglier is the sad fact that these animal shelters are then faced with the prospect of euthanizing unwanted animals. The solution is simple. Spay and neuter your pets.

With Spay Day USA set for February 27, 2018, we wanted to learn more about a local organization that has helped so many people give their pets the love and care they deserve. So we asked Companion Animal Assistance Program (CAAP) board members, Sue Moore and Laura Gann, a few questions.  

SLM: When and how did CAAP get started?

CAAP: Fifteen years ago, long-time Stillwater resident, Ada Whitley gathered together a group of people who cared about animals and started the Companion Animal Assistance Program (CAAP).  Her idea was to build a team of board members, veterinarians, and volunteers who would work together to spay and neuter area dogs and cats.

For years, Ada had assisted the Stillwater Humane Society and Animal Welfare in their efforts to find homes for unwanted animals. Reducing the numbers of homeless pets can only happen if individuals take responsibility for their pet’s reproduction, and Ada knew that spaying and neutering often costs more than some people can afford.

SLM: What is CAAP’s mission?

CAAP: CAAP’s mission is to promote the health and welfare of companion animals through spay/neuter assistance and education.   

SLM: How does CAAP carry out its mission?

CAAP: We work with most local veterinarians to offer reduced cost spay and neuter services and vaccinations to lower income families and students who need help affording this care for their pets. Local veterinarians help by reducing their charge to CAAP, pet owners contribute what they can, and CAAP makes up the difference. This 3-way partnership has made it possible for 11,600 local dogs and cats to be healthier, happier, and not reproduce.

SLM: What is the impact on the community?

CAAP: CAAP also makes sure every dog or cat adopted from Stillwater Animal Welfare is spayed or neutered before adoption. A portion of the adoption fee goes toward the sterilization costs, again with CAAP paying the balance as the City of Stillwater does not cover this cost. OSU Veterinary Medicine does help at times, but when OSU’s help is not available, CAAP makes sure it is done through local veterinarians.

Since 2005, CAAP has made it possible for nearly 3,000 Animal Welfare dogs and cats to be spayed or neutered. This insures that these pets do not produce unwanted litters of puppies and kittens in their new homes; litters that would often end up back at Animal Welfare in need of adoption.

The numbers of animals sheltered at both Animal Welfare and the Humane Society have gone down over the years. Thousands of dogs and cats not reproducing over time makes a big difference. 

Currently, no healthy, adoptable dog at either shelter needs to be euthanized for lack of space.

SLM: Where does CAAP get its support?

CAAP: Our longest and most generous support has come from the Faye Allene Rife Brown Foundation. Mrs. Brown was a Stillwater resident who loved animals and wanted her legacy to include care for pets. Our founder and great friend Ada Whitley was also very supportive and is greatly missed.

Our most valuable supporters year-round are the veterinarians who work with us to make CAAP’s service to the community possible. They are:  All Pets Veterinary Hospital, Baker Animal Clinic, Benchmark Animal Hospital, Cimarron Animal Clinic, Perkins Road Pet Clinic, Perkins Veterinary Clinic, Veterinary House Calls, and White Veterinary Services.  

Local businesses have also been friends to CAAP, including Petco, Hideaway Pizza, Pizza Hut, Walmart and the Payne County Expo Center. Their support has been very appreciated.

SLM: How can people get involved with CAAP?  

Help from the community is needed. We need donations and we need people willing to help do the work of providing this valuable community assistance. Anyone experienced with fundraising, grant writing, publicity, etc. would be welcome to attend our meetings and learn more about the organization and serve on the Board. Call (405) 547-5145 for more information.

SLM: What is Spay Day and what is its purpose?

CAAP:  Spay Day USA was created by the Doris Day Animal League in 1994 to bring attention to the pet overpopulation problem in the United States and to encourage animal population control by neutering pets. Organizations are encouraged to help educate pet owners about the importance of preventing unwanted litters, homelessness, and the promotion of good health in cat and dog populations.

Spay Day is always observed the last Tuesday in February, but veterinarian clinics each can schedule their own day to participate and offer reduced cost spays and neuters.  

SLM: How does CAAP support or observe Spay Day?

CAAP: In fact, Spay Day is a big help to CAAP, because many veterinarians offer low cost procedures directly. Because of this, our emphasis is more on education. CAAP has participated in Spay Day observances by offering educational materials at the Stillwater Public Library as well as Open Houses at the OSU Veterinary Hospital.

SLM: How can pet owners get help from CAAP?

CAAP: They can contact CAAP by phone at (405) 377-0887 or visit caapok.org and print the application form. They will need to fill it out, then call to find out what their part of the cost is, then mail that amount in with the application to the address provided.   

Once the payment and application are received, a voucher will be sent to them so that they can make an appointment for the surgery with the participating veterinarian of their choice. Then they take the voucher with them to the appointment as it authorizes the veterinarian to bill CAAP for the full amount.

SLM: Is there anything else you think our readers should know about CAAP?

CAAP:  Sometimes we think we are the best kept secret in Stillwater because so many people comment that they didn’t know anything about us.

The shelters and humane societies have cute puppies and kittens . . . we have procedures. But, what we do is vitally important, and we’re proud of the service we have given the community. We pay an average of $50,000 a year in veterinary charges for spay and neuter procedures and vaccinations, so we certainly think we have an impact on the community.