RASKC commends South County Cats, an all-volunteer award-winning organization, that has facilitated over 18,000 spay/neuter surgeries since 2006. South County Cats (SCC) is bursting with joy for achieving its longtime goal of opening a low-cost spay/neuter clinic in south King County. SCC also provides trap-neuter-return (TNR) services, fostering opportunities, and adoptions in south King County and surrounding communities.
Led by founder and volunteer director Sally Halela, South County Cats was featured recently in Pet Connections Magazine. Sally has been honored by the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association, recognized by the National Points of Light Foundation, and she received the Washington State Governor’s Volunteer Service Award in 2018 in the animal-welfare category. The Auburn Valley Humane Society presented its Wet Nose Award to SCC in 2018.
Please tell us about SCC’s new spay/neuter clinic in south King County. After more than 20 years of traveling all over Puget Sound to get spay and neuter for our rescue cats, in 2020 we finally took the first steps toward establishing the clinic and offering low-cost spay/neuter surgeries in this area. This project was made possible thanks to a bequest from Pat Davis, a longtime SCC supporter and RASKC volunteer.
SCC has been collaborating with our friends at Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project to bring high-quality, high-volume services here to south county. With their help, we now provide accessible, affordable, and local help for many cats and kittens. Our clinic operates weekly, with a capacity of 25-30 cats per clinic.
We largely subsidize spay/neuter for felines who belong to low-income families, people with disabilities, and to senior citizens in the area. Because we prioritize free-roaming cats, our clinic prevents many unplanned litters of kittens and future generations of feral cats.
Please tell us about SCC’s Trap-Neuter-Return program. Most of the kittens we rescue come from our Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) activity. My favorite part of my SCC volunteer work is meeting the wonderful people who contact us to help with stray or feral cats and kittens that arrived on their doorstep or in their backyard. These are such caring people, who, like us, want better lives for community cats. SCC always makes sure that the mama cat and every cat in the house and the yard are spayed when we accept a litter of kittens, so this is #MomsLastLitter.
We are fortunate to have a cadre of volunteers who are experienced and willing to foster feral kittens before they are placed in our adoption program and on to their forever homes. While SCC has always spayed/neutered our foster TNR kittens before adoption, we can now have them altered at our clinic.
What other SCC programs would you like to highlight? Additionally, SCC educates the public about the importance of spay and neuters, assists with veterinary care for community cats, funds microchips for pet cats, shares cat food donations, and relocates displaced feral or semi-feral cats to suitable barn or workshop homes.
How did South County Cats get started? I began my animal welfare volunteer career at Seattle Humane in 1982 in their Senior Citizen Pet Food Bank. I quickly noticed we were providing food for kittens and began to think about how to help people find resources to spay or neuter for their pet(s). In 1998, I began as a foster volunteer for King County Animal Care & Control, the agency that is now known as RASKC.
MEOW Cat Rescue was a mentor organization for South County Cats. In 2006, when our rescue work outgrew their capacity, South County Cats was established. SCC began with just two volunteers; now we have more than 50 volunteers. While we have grown in capacity, our original focus was and continues to be on TNR and rescuing feral kittens. We’ve added other programs along the way, but we continue to serve and advocate for community cats.
In what ways do RASKC and South County Cats work together? For several years RASKC has been providing spay/neuter and vaccinations for the free-roaming cats that SCC volunteers trap. Then SCC provides after care and returns the adult cats to their habitat. This partnership prevents many litters of homeless cats from entering the shelter, and it prevents future generations of feral cats from being born. SCC also assists RASKC in returning lost cats to their owners.
RASKC provides foster care for some of SCC’s rescued kittens. Your Foster Care Coordinator Lori Mason is amazing. We also appreciate all RASKC’s vet-clinic and shelter staff; they do an excellent job.
What is South County Cats’ vision for the future? We envision a world where all shelters achieve a zero-euthanasia rate for adoptable cats. Our work has helped RASKC achieve this goal. SCC also aims for a world where all homeless cats are cared for until they are adopted into new homes.