On any given day, Helene Hicks is likely to get three to 10 calls about animals needing a little alteration, as in spay or neuter. As president of Pink Pawz Spay & Neuter, she is the go-to person for low-cost options in Jackson County.
The nonprofit recently changed its name to Pink Pawz because of confusion generated from its old name, Jackson County Spay and Neuter.
“People thought we’re part of the county, and we’re not,” she said. “I named it that originally so that people would know it was available for Jackson County.”
In fact, Pink Pawz operated on donations, grants, volunteer work and proceeds from special events. Right now, the kitty (pun intended) is low, and more than 40 requests are pending for pet sterilizations. As a result, the nonprofit has put a halt on appointments until more money comes in.
“It seems that spay and neuter is not as important as it should be,” Hicks said. “People think we don’t do dogs, but I do dogs. We do rescue, just not on a large scale, and definitely not right now.”
Since 2008, when the nonprofit started, it has sterilized more than 3,000 animals, she said, adding the operation is vital to reducing animal populations.
“If you spay and neuter from the start, the rescue problem is pretty much solved. I get calls all the time; the answer is spay and neuter,” she said. “The thing that holds back people is cost.”
For cats, the cost is $40 for males and $60 for females. For dogs, it’s $60 for small males up to $112.50 for large females. However, Pink Pawz asks owners to pay what they can afford and the nonprofit pays the rest via donations.
For three or more animals, there is a 20 percent discount. The vet visit includes the surgery as well as a rabies shot, de-worming and flea medication and transportation in the case of most animals. For senior or disabled owners, Hicks provides pet pickup and return.
“Every time we fix an animal, we post it on Facebook,” she said. “We let people know where the money is going.”
The focus is on Jackson County but Hicks has helped pet owners in Lucedale, Mobile and Stone County. In addition to pets, Pink Pawz offers discounts to fix feral cats.
Pink Pawz works with Dr. Lee Spears of Pass Road Veterinary Clinic and accepts donations through the Biloxi clinic.
Hicks became involved in spay and neuter efforts in 2008 through a friend she met while volunteering with another nonprofit. Her friend had an animal-rescue program in Alabama.
When Hicks realized Jackson County had no spay-neuter program, she began one.
Elaine Adair, who is now a founder and board president for Mississippi Spay and Neuter and vice president of operations for The Big Fix Clinic, lived in Gulfport at the time and became a sort of mentor for Hicks.
Today, Pink Pawz offers a rabies clinic at least once a year and other events related to pets.
“We’re trying to help people keep their animals,” Hicks said.
To donate to Pink Pawz, contact Pass Road Veterinary Clinic, 2709 Pass Road, Biloxi, at 228-385-1008.