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Norwich Bulletin - 10/19/2008

State Help For Ferals and More

This year marks the Expansion of the Animal Population Control Program. There are two new phases, which should further help reduce the pet overpopulation problem in our state. For the first time since the State Program was implemented in 1995, benefits will be provided, not just for feral cats, but also to help low income citizens vaccinate and sterilize their companion pets. This second phase expands the already successful feral Cat Grant Program that started in 2007, and that Helping Paws in fortunate enough to be part of.

Public Act Number 07-105, An Act Concerning the Expansion of the Animal Population Control Program, gives us the Low-Income and Feral Cat Grant Programs. There was a lot of hard work done in order to be able to implement these new spay/neuter benefits for the companion animals of low-income Connecticut citizens. None worked harder than Helping Paws’ good friend Frank Ribaudo.

Frank came out to visit Helping Paws and visit some of our feral cat colonies to really get a handle on the type of problems that exist in Connecticut. He is someone who really cares about getting the cat population under control and has done a lot to help organizations such as Helping Paws, be able to offer these vouchers,

The Feral Cat Grant Program first introduced in 2007, awarded $40,000 in vaccination/sterilization vouchers to eleven Connecticut Non-profit organizations providing benefits for 500 feral cats. In 2008, another $40,000 subsidized vaccination/sterilization benefits for an additional 500 cats. Helping Paws was part of those grants both years, and successfully used every voucher that we were allotted, keeping us on the list to continue to ask for help for our ferals.

For this new year, the new expanded version of the bill will dedicate up to 10% of APCP income to vaccinate and sterilize feral cats. The total amount to be awarded is expected to be between $40,000 and $60,000. Feral cats are cats that have reverted back to their wild nature and have not been domesticated. Ferals are generally trapped in have a heart traps and brought to participating veterinarians.

The second part of the new legislation provides pet sterilization benefits for Connecticut residents who qualify for one of six low income programs as defined by the Department of Social Services. The APCP will dedicate 10% of its income, also expected to be between $40,000 and $60,000 to the low income program.

The introduction of these new programs is due largely to the success of the agency’s Animal Population Control Program, which has provided sterilization and vaccination to more than 50,000 pound pets since 1995, and has helped reduce euthanasia in Connecticut by 50% and then number of impounded pets by one-third!

As we all struggle in these economic times, I know there are people who are feeding feral cats throughout New London County and would be willing to continue to care for them, but cannot afford to do the initial vet care. Helping Paws has been awarded a generous number of feral cat vouchers, and I encourage my readers who are caring for a colony to get in touch with me for veterinary help.

This year, Helping Paws is not part of the low-income program. Hopefully, in years to come, we will also be able to offer this type of aid to our county. However, Helping Paws does purchase a number of vouchers from their fundraising whenever we can afford to, and those vouchers are for low income families. So whatever your need, please do call us and leave a message. Remember, we are not taking in any cats from the general public, but if you are willing to continue to care for your feral cat, we encourage you to call us.

For more information about the Low-Income Grant Program, please contact the Animal Population Control Program at 860-713-2507 or visit the agency’s website at

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