Devoted to helping homeless cats, FixNation is the only free full-time spay and neuter clinic in Los Angeles.
Ask any animal care professional – volunteers at the animal shelter, your veterinarian or pet supply retailer. They’ll all tell you the number of homeless, stray and feral cats in every sleepy town and bustling metropolitan city is at epidemic proportions. In fact, the ASPCA estimates there are over ten million homeless and feral cats in the United States alone. Some animal welfare groups believe the numbers are much higher.
Many neighborhoods care for these cats by constructing shelters and feeding stations where large numbers of kitties have set up colonies. By providing feral cats with basic needs, they are less likely to wander onto residential properties. Other communities have implemented trap, neuter, release (TNR) programs. By targeting cat colonies, they are able to spay and neuter large numbers of cats. Although it’s impossible to trap every animal, TNR programs have proven to be an effective way of controlling feral feline populations. Over time, the numbers of cats stabilize and even decrease.
One such program started in Los Angeles in 1999. It came about quite by accident, when Karn Myers befriended two women feeding a feral colony near her place of business. As she learned more about the plight of the cats, Karn became driven to do more to help them. Her husband, Mark Dodge, echoed her passion and quickly joined in to help. According to Mark, the couple was willing to do whatever it took to accomplish their mission. Motivated by their love of cats and armed with the assistance of like- minded individuals and organizations, the all-volunteer Best Friend’s Catnippers proudly held its first spay and neuter clinic in October of 1999.
Best Friends Catnippers continues to hold six bi-monthly spay and neuter clinics a year, but Karn and Mark knew more could be done by operating a full-time clinic. So in 2007, after much in-depth planning and considerable fundraising, they founded FixNation Inc. (fixnation.org), the only full- time, free spay and neuter clinic of its kind.
This is no small feat and takes a dedicated group of individuals. Although some of FixNation’s team are volunteers, the clinic cannot do its work on a volunteer basis alone. “We employ the equivalent of two full-time spay-neuter vets and a professional medical support staff,” Mark explains. “All homeless cats are examined, receive distemper and rabies vaccines, flea and parasite prevention, medication and fluids. Other medically necessary surgeries are also performed. We also employ management and clerical personnel to handle the business side of things, such as scheduling, training, trap inventory management, administration, community outreach, marketing, PR, financial and bookkeeping. We run on a budget of over $1.2 million annually to achieve the goal of performing over 17,000 free surgeries per year. FixNation serves as the only full-time TNR support organization.”
FixNation also offers a variety of resources to help people caring for feral cat colonies. They loan traps, train people in using the traps, provide help for colony caregivers and have a public education program. “We are very active in helping TNR become official public policy in Los Angeles and elsewhere through public education efforts and collaborations with other animal welfare organizations,” Mark says. “We are working in collaboration with the City of Los Angeles and other animal welfare and wildlife protection organizations to develop a program that will encompass TNR as a critical component of the long term solution to the problem of homeless cats in LA.”
None of this would be possible without the help of other organizations and charities, Mark points out, adding that PetSmart Charities and Best Friends Animal Society are their “anchor” donors.
Fundraising events are also essential to keep the clinic afloat. One very special event held last March was a partnership between FixNation and the Broadway Production of CATS held at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles.
“We work hard to promote what we do,” Mark says. “We hope that more people and organizations will see the value in it and decide to help us keep our operations going”.
To date, FixNation and Best Friends Catnippers have spayed and neutered more than 40,000 cats. Given how quickly unfixed cats proliferate, that translates to a staggering decrease in homeless kittens!