It’s official! No Unwanted Pets (NUP) will be participating in this fall’s Swingshift and the Stars event! NUP is a Spay/Neuter Coalition in the Grand Traverse Area which consists of the animal rescue groups of AC Paws, Handds to the Rescue and UnCats Feline Rescue. Their goal is promote and offer low cost spay/neuter services to reduce the pain and suffering of dogs and cats caused by over-population. When unwanted litters are born, it often results in disease and death when these animals aren’t adopted.
Swingshift and the Stars is a charity dance competition at The Opera House in Traverse City. It’s a series of four dance competitions in which the participants include a dancer who represents a local charity who is paired with a dance professional. The competitions are on September 20th, October 18th, November 15th and the grand finale is on December 20th. You can order tickets here.
The event is open to the public and participants are encouraged to invite family, friends, donors and their supporters. The participating organizations will have booths at the event with information about them and the Swingshift group will have live performances, door prizes, hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. When you get a ticket to the event, you are provided with an envelope. For an additional $5 (minimum), you can vote for your favorite dance couple/organization. The audience votes will be combined with the judges scores from all competitions for a winner. You have to be at the dancing event to be able to vote. If you can’t attend the dancing competition, you can still donate to NUP here. These donations are reported and announced as part of the total monthly donations at the conclusion of each event.
NUP’s dancing contestant/localcelebrity is Dr. Jennifer Klabunde, a veterinarian at the Northwood Animal Hospital in Grawn. She is also seen on Wednesday mornings on TV 7&4 on their Pet Talk segment answering questions about pet care. You can read more about her here. Her dancing partner is Danny Brizard.
NUP competing charities announced tonight include: Peace Ranch, The Father Fred Foundation, Great Lakes Children’s Museum, Habitat for Humanity and the Grand Traverse Dyslexia Association.
It wasn’t that long ago when a coalition like NUP might never have come to pass, as the groups didn’t always work together or even get along well enough to participate in local events. AC Paw was founded in 1995 and from that organization, several people left to form a new group called Petsafe. A few years later, more people left Petsafe and formed two more groups, Handds to the Rescue and UnCats Feline Rescue. Currently, these non-profit organizations all enjoy a good relationship and have their own specialized areas – UnCats rescues cats, mostly those with feline leukemia and the feline immunodeficiency virus; Handds to the Rescue rescues dogs, often from high kill shelters; and AC Paw rescues both dogs and cats, both from Grand Traverse County and also Antrim County where they are based. One of their common goals and a primary mission for all of these groups is to spay and neuter as many pets as they can so that the homeless pet population decreases.
Because spaying and neutering is so expensive, even some pet owners who’d like to have the procedure done can’t afford it because it could cost them around $200 or $300. That’s where No Unwanted Pets comes in. They will use the money raised from their participation in Swingshift & the Stars to offer affordable spay and neuters by using low-cost vouchers and other means. AC PAW is already working on this on a small scale but the extra influx of money into this project should make a bigger dent in the problem facing the county. The NUP group hopes that most of the area veterinarians will show their support by participating in the program so that pet owners can be comfortable and use their own vet for the spay or neuter surgery. While some pet owners still think it may be “cute” to have puppies or kittens, the reality is that dog and cat litters can be very big and it’s often hard to find adopters, especially during the spring when it’s kitten and puppy season. In addition to that, the owner is putting more animals out in the public who aren’t spayed or neutered. And the cycle continues.
Many groups like the American Humane Association are strong proponents of spaying and neutering and say that it’s both healthy for pets and effectively reduces pet overpopulation. Neutering dogs and cats can prevent undesirable sexual behaviors such as marking, humping, male aggression and the urge to roam. Spaying eliminates the constant crying and nervous pacing of a female cat in heat. Spaying a female dog eliminates the messiness associated with the heat cycle. Spaying and neutering will also allow pets in the same household to get along better. A long-term benefit of spaying and neutering is improved health for both cats and dogs. Spaying females prior to their first heat cycle nearly eliminates the risk of breast cancer and totally prevents uterine infections and uterine cancer. Neutering males prevents testicular cancer and enlargement of the prostate gland, and greatly reduces their risk for perianal tumors.
In addition to fixing owned pets, some of the money collected for NUP will be used to spay and neuter the feral cat population in Grand Traverse County by participating in TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return). Killing stray cats doesn’t solve the over-population problem and is inhumane. Animal rescue groups all over the country are sterilizing these cats and putting them back in their colonies to live out the rest of their lives. You can read more about TNR here. If you’re wondering how feral cats come into existence, they often show up at apartment complexes and trailer parks where people leave their cats behind and they keep reproducing. If each female cat can have three litters a year and those are pretty big litters, you can imagine that it doesn’t take much time at all to grow a large feral cat population. Because these cats are not in homes and around people much, they become “feral” or unsocial – they are usually afraid of humans and don’t like them in their environments. In TNR situations, the cats are often are able to get accustomed to the “caretaker” who comes to the colony to feed them and keep an eye on any health problems or new visitors to the colony. The good thing about having a caretaker for a colony is that they are able to get the kittens out of that situation once they are weaned and are usually adoptable.
To learn more about the schedule of the dancing events, click here.