FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The North Peace SPCA is letting pet owners know about its low-cost spay and neuter program.

Branch manager, Candace Buchamer, says the program was created as a result of COVID-19 restrictions forcing veterinary clinics to halt surgeries.

“We’re seeing a huge, huge increase in kitten birth. We’re very lucky to obtain a grant from the BC Hydro GO Fund again this year,” said Buchamer.

The fund provides support to non-profit organizations in the Peace Region, allocating $100,000 annually for up to a maximum of $10,000 per project.

The spay and neuter program isn’t specific to Fort St. John, said Buchamer.

“This is for Fort St. John, Taylor, and anybody within our Peace River Regional District that match the federal low income mark off. They’re all eligible to apply for low income assistance.”

The fund is mainly for cats, but Buchamer says there is a small amount that has been set aside for dogs.

Anyone who would like to access the program is asked to contact the BC SPCA North Peace Branch at northpeace@spca.bc.ca or 250-785-7722.

“It is just a very simple one page application and they attach their tax documents with that application. We get them approved, we give them the paperwork, they schedule with the vet, and boom, your kitties spayed and ID’d.”

Around five cats have been spayed or neutered through the program this year.

The North Peace SPCA has been stretched thin due to being overcapacity and the number of staff able to work due to public health orders.

Buchamer, says the shelter has had to limit the number of staff allowed to work and sees anywhere between 35 to 50 animals, most of which are cats.