Every Thursday morning, cat owners gather in the parking lot of Bellingham’s Salvation Army, and every Thursday morning, the team at WeSNiP is ready to go.
Cats are loaded on to the WeSNiP van and taken to the Northwest Organization for Animal Health (NOAH) Center in Stanwood to be spayed or neutered. They are driven back to the parking lot later that evening, ready to head home to their owners.
WeSNiP executive director Audrey Seaholm said the message behind the nonprofit is just being a responsible pet owner. “A very important component of being responsible is spaying and neutering,” she said. But WeSNiP doesn’t just help spay and neuter cats, they also partner with Maplewood Animal Hospital to provide opportunities for dogs’ surgical needs too.
Since its inception in 2008, the mission of the Whatcom Education, Spay and Neuter Impact Program (WeSNiP), has been to make spaying and neutering more accessible. The program is meant to cater to the underserved community that doesn’t have a lot of options with other vets, Seaholm said. WeSNiP also traps feral cats so they can be spayed or neutered. Seaholm said the traps are for untouchable cats. “Those are the feral or free-roaming cats that aren’t going to curl up in your lap,” she said. “That’s where a lot of litters come from, and by trapping them and getting them fixed, you reduce that.”
On its website, WeSNiP says the number of feral cats euthanized by the Whatcom Human Society has dropped 83 percent between 2008 and 2016. Transport Coordinator Sasha Lee-Drews is one of several WeSNiP crew members who help get cats to surgery and back to their owners on Thursdays. She said being able to help animals that can’t help themselves is what she enjoys about the work she does.
Compassion toward all animals is another message Seaholm said she hopes to help spread through WeSNiP. Spreading that message to children, the future pet owners, is especially important. “Compassion and responsibility are the two primary components that we hope to touch and share with kids,” she said.
Whether it’s spaying or neutering a feral cat or someone’s pet, Seaholm said it’s great to help people help animals.