Hard to believe that in this day and time a chunk of free money could go unspent.
But that is precisely the dilemma facing the St. Joseph Bay Humane Society has it nears the end of a one-year grant from Pet Smart to facilitate spay and neuter services for dogs in the 32456 zip code.
If the $20,000 in grant funds is not spent by June 15, the money will have to be returned to the Pet Smart Foundation.
And given the number of stray and abandoned dogs at the Humane Society base on 10th Street in Port St. Joe and how quickly the ranks of candidates for the DAWGS in Prison program are filled with shelter dogs, the volunteers and staff at the SJBHS is finding reasons that grant dollars remain unspent elusive.
“There is a real need,” said Lynda Gangeme, a volunteer for the SJBHS who with her husband, John, also a grant writer, secured the Pet Smart grant.
And they are pretty proud of that work.
The grant is the largest the foundation has given out to such a small area and after requesting $15,000 the couple was quite pleased with the higher award.
“This (SJBHS) shelter is full of dogs and cats. They don’t have homes and they are difficult to adopt. What is the shelter going to do with all the puppies? Unfortunately, too often unwanted dogs end up being euthanized.”
The size of the grant and the size and demographics of the area it is meant to serve, Gangeme said, is intentional.
“They wanted to make a big impact in a small area,” said John Gangame. “They don’t normally provide a large grant for such a small area.”
Lynda added that the Gangames home to have the spay and neuter of cats included in subsequent grants sought from Pet Smart.
Melody Townsend, SJBHS shelter director, said the grant was important because rural communities generally lack the resources for a broad spay/neuter outreach program. Large grants are typically targeted to urban and heavily populated areas.
But Townsend noted, Pet Smart was, impressed with the application submitted by the Gangames.
The SJBHS had a year to spend the grant funds and concentrated particularly on areas such as Oak Grove, Highland View and North Port St. Joe.
But with funds remaining the push is on to continue the work and exhaust the grant dollars.
The service is entirely free – there is no hidden charge or fine print.
Simply contact the St. Joseph Bay Humane Society at 227-1103 or www.sjbhumanesociety.org to secure the application form and fill out the form.
In return, you will be given a voucher which can be taken to participating veterinarians - Dr. Hobson Fulmer in Apalachicola included as well as vets in Panama City – and the vet will send the bill to the SJBHS for payment.
No other expense is incurred by the dog owners.
Giving an unwanted or surprise litter away, Townsend said, does not address the problem as there is no telling where those dogs will end up and whether those offspring will be spayed or neutered. Passing on the problem, Townsend noted, does not address the problem.
“What happens to their offspring?” she said.