A nationwide movement that grew out of the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina is bringing help to Alachua County, Florida’s, community cats.
Operation Catnip, a national feline welfare organization headquartered in Gainesville, is teaming up with local veterinarians to spay, neuter, and vaccinate community cats as part of the National Our Oath in Action Day on Sunday, October 11, 2015.
Founded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF), Our Oath in Action Day is an opportunity for veterinary health care providers to showcase their commitment to the Veterinary Oath. It calls on them to use their “knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.”
On this day, veterinarians and veterinary technicians repair and clean animal shelters, create pet food banks, provide free care to pets in shelters and those belonging to people who otherwise can’t afford it.
In Gainesville, they’ll be volunteering at one of Operation Catnip’s renowned MASH-style spay-neuter and vaccination clinics for neighborhood, feral, and free-roaming cats.
Operation Catnip has been running their clinics in Gainesville for more than 16 years, and has cared for more than 45,000 cats during that time.
“We couldn’t possibly fulfill our mission without the skills, support, and commitment of countless veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and veterinary students,” said program founder Dr. Julie Levy. “Our volunteer veterinary team members put their oaths in action for cats in need at every Operation Catnip Clinic, and we’re glad to have this special day to put a spotlight on their dedication.”
Dr. Patti Gordon of All Cats Healthcare Clinic in Gainesville is part of that army of volunteers. “I love being able to help the students learn and get the cats treated and sterilized,” she said. “It’s such a good feeling to know that there will be fewer cats out there reproducing and adding to the stray population.”
Joining Dr. Gordon is a veterinarian from Live Oak, Florida, Dr. Tracie Daniels of Suwannee Paws, Inc., a spay-neuter clinic. “I love working with Operation Catnip and admire the impact they have locally and nationally,” said Dr. Daniels. “Their program provides real hands-on training for vet students and opportunities for veterinarians to learn how to manage community cats.”
At the Oct. 11 event, veterinarians and technicians will care for around 170 cats who were trapped by local volunteers. Each feline will be examined, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, treated for fleas and other parasites, given an ear-tip that identifies them as having been sterilized, allowed to recover, then returned to the location where they were trapped.
“Operation Catnip is dedicated to making the lives of both people and cats in every community better,” said director Audrey Garrison. “We can’t think of a better way to put the veterinary oath in action than cutting down on the number of kittens born and helping community cats live healthier, happier lives.”
This local event was made possible due to the efforts of Sandy MacArthur, a senior vet student at the University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine. She developed the event and wrote a grant to underwrite some of the costs associated with the large-scale clinic.
For more information on Oath in Action Day, visit http://www.avmf.org/programs/main/our-oath-in-action/.
To learn more about Operation Catnip, visit operationcatnip.org.