WALLACE — A year ago, Pet Friends of Duplin County had to suspend all programs due to the pandemic as it put a halt to the main fundraisers. Pet Friends is operating again and welcomes new members.

Founded just over 20 years ago, PFDC has worked to decrease our county’s unwanted animal population problem, increase responsible pet ownership and care, and prevent rabies in the pet population.

To reduce the unwanted pet population, we work with the Duplin County Animal Shelter, maintain a Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Program and operate a limited Feral Cat Trap/Neuter/Release program.

PFDC works with the Duplin County Animal Shelter to reduce the burden on the too-small shelter. In the past, PFDC volunteers rescued local animals, worked with rescue groups, transported and fostered animals, saving over 5,000 cats and dogs over 6 years. PFDC now helps Friends of the Duplin, NC Animal Shelter to spread the word of the need for transport volunteers and donations to fund pull fees, etc, and loan PFDC crates for transport. PFDC also funds heartworm tests for shelter animals so that they can qualify for a rescue group.

Spaying and Neutering is the best way to reduce the unwanted animals in our county. Pet Friends restarted its Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Program for families in need in December.

The program is slowly rebuilding. Before COVID, we provided funds for an average of 400 surgeries a year. We have subsidized 50 surgeries. We had issued 160 approvals but only %30 were used. We will be surveying those people who did not use their approval to see why.

Spay and Neuter surgeries can be expensive, running $125 to $500, depending on the age, sex, weight, whether cat or dog, whether a female is pregnant, or whether IV anesthesia and/or pain meds to go home are selected. This program provides $50/pet toward a Spay or Neuter to three participating veterinarians, greatly reducing the cost and some of the veterinarians discount the cost of the surgery for Pet Friends ’ customers as well.

Applications can be obtained at their veterinarian or on our website – petfriendsonline.org.

Preventing litters is good for the owner, good for the pet, and good for the community. Preventing a litter makes for better, more affectionate companions, the animals are less likely to bite, males are less likely to spray or mark their territory, and spaying eliminates the female heat cycle.

Spaying/Neutering allows your pet to live a longer, healthier life, reduces the incidence of prostate cancer, eliminates the possibility of uterine or ovarian cancer, greatly reduces the incidence of breast cancer, and the animals are less likely to roam and fight. Reducing the animal population reduces the burden on the animal shelter, reduces the cost to the county to control and eliminate animals, and reduces the number of animals dumped and roving the county.

PFDC also operates a Feral Cat Trap/Neuter/Release program on a limited basis. Volunteers are greatly appreciated to help reduce the Feral Cat colonies throughout the county.

Before COVID, we vaccinated over 300 pets per year. Rabies is a required vaccine for any dog, cat, or ferret over 4 months of age. Animals can receive the vaccine as early as 3 months.

The vaccine must be repeated every one to three years, depending on the type of vaccine. Owners are supposed to ensure their animals have their rabies tags on a collar or harness worn at all times.

Rabies is always deadly to animals. At least 10 animals tested rabies positive in Duplin County in 2020, one of which was a cat. Other animals included a cow, raccoon, coyote, and a bat. Suspect rabies with any bite from a warm-blooded animal until proven otherwise.

Animals that get into a fight with another animal should not be touched bare-handed as the other animal’s saliva on their coat could get into a wound or open skin. For any pets bitten or wounded by another animal, especially by a wild animal, call your veterinarian, and notify Duplin County Animal Services at 910-296-2159, and animals with a current rabies vaccination must receive a booster within 72 hours of exposure.

People who have been bitten should control bleeding, clean and cover the wound, contact their doctor and report the bite to Animal Services

To prevent rabies, take away the invitation by removing all sources of food in your yard and outbuildings, use animal-proof lids on your garbage cans, don’t feed pets outside if pets are fed outside, remove any uneaten food, don’t leave food outside for wild or stray animals, make your garden less appealing to wildlife.

Also take away the welcome mat, by eliminating all sites around your house and property that can be used by animals for sleeping or raising young, cap all chimneys, plug all holes in the roof, eaves, or sides of buildings, block any means of entry to foundations/porches and steps, trim tree limbs that extend up to/over your roof, and provide bright exterior lighting to discourage nocturnal animals.

Volunteers are needed for the Rabies Clinics, the Fall Yard Sale, the Feral Cat TNR Program, and the upcoming 20 Year Celebration.

Pet Friends is a 501c3(a) charity that “promotes the health, safety, and welfare of domestic companion animals in Duplin County.”

To join, donate, volunteer, or find out more about Pet Friends of Duplin County, go to the website – petfriendsonline.org, check out the PFDC Facebook page or write Pet Friends of Duplin County, PO Box 152, Wallace, NC 28466.

The Duplin Times may be reached at duplinnews@ncweeklies.com