Juneau Animal Rescue’s in-house Veterinarian, Dr. Tracy Ward, performs the first public spaying procedure at JAR since 2014 on a female cat named Monte. In mid-November JAR reopened its doors to the public for its spay and neuter services. (Courtesy Photo / Samantha Blankenship)

Juneau Animal Rescue’s in-house Veterinarian, Dr. Tracy Ward, performs the first public spaying procedure at JAR since 2014 on a female cat named Monte. In mid-November JAR reopened its doors to the public for its spay and neuter services. (Courtesy Photo / Samantha Blankenship)

Dogged efforts underway at local shelter

Spay and neuter services, food collection and more.

Juneau Animal Rescue, like shelters nationwide, is seeing a spike in the number of animals coming in, reaching levels not seen in at least two decades.

“We have seen numbers that we haven’t seen in 20 years,” said Samantha Blankenship, executive director of Juneau Animal Rescue.

With this rise in animals, Blankenship said JAR is doing a few things for the community to ensure pets receive the best possible care. Last month, JAR reopened its doors to the public for its spay and neuter services — which comes just in time for dog license registration — and in the holiday spirit, it is also one of the three drop-off locations for the Grateful Dogs of Juneau’s 13th annual Holiday Cat and Dog Food Drive, which is accepting donations and will continue to run throughout the week ending on Sunday.

All dogs six months or older who have lived in the City and Borough of Juneau for longer than 30 days are legally required to be licensed in the city by Jan. 1 every year, and the application for 2023 is now open. Blankenship said licensing is an important step for dog owners to take each year as it protects both their own pets and the other pets in the community.

All that’s required for the licensing is a current rabies certificate, which residents can also get at JAR during its Tuesday public vaccine clinic open from noon-4:30 p.m. The vaccination clinic also offers other types of vaccines and microchipping as well.

“Licensing is an important thing for all people to do,” she said.

Each year, Blankenship said JAR licenses around 4,000 dogs, but she’s estimated that at least twice that many dogs currently live in Juneau. She said licensing is important to ensure that all dogs in Juneau are currently on their rabies vaccinations and ensure all owned dogs are identifiable if lost and dropped off at the shelter. If a dog is picked up and brought to JAR and is not licensed, the average fee for impounding an unlicensed dog can be $100 or more.

Although only dog licensing is a requirement, cats and other animals can get registered for free to be used to help JAR identify lost animals and get them back to the owners.

A dog license costs between $20 and $45 a year and the registration can be done online at https://www.juneauanimalrescue.org/licensing.html

Spay it forward

For the first time since 2014, JAR has opened its doors to the public for its in-house spay and neuter services open for both cats and dogs.

The service is offered at different price ranges for people across Juneau depending on income. Blakenship said it is full cost for people who are able to afford it, but there are also low-cost options for low-income qualified individuals, at its lowest costing $55 for a cat to be neutered and $130 for a dog less than 40 pounds. Along with that, scheduling preference is given first to low-income qualified individuals

Blakenship said the clinic is targeted toward young, healthy animals that don’t have any medical conditions and she recommends older animals in need of the service go to a private veterinarian.

“The goal is to spay and neuter as many animals as we can with a little bit of a more simplified clinic,” she said.

Blakenship said JAR stopped its in-house clinic back in 2014 when its in-house veterinarian left. After that, JAR partnered with Southeast Alaska Animal Medical Center until its closure this spring. Now that it has a new veterinarian again, she said JAR wanted to give a low-cost option for residents who might not be able to afford a private veterinarian and also alleviate some of the high needs of the community with its current shortage of private veterinarians in town.

“We’re super excited to be able to offer this again,” Blakenship said. “We have to get back on top of it again, so by offering spay and neutering clinics to the public, we hope to allow the private veterinarians in town to focus on things that we don’t necessarily.”

Putting the ate in grateful

On Monday, the Grateful Dogs of Juneau began accepting donations as a part of its 13th annual Holiday Cat and Dog Food Drive, which runs throughout the week and ends on Sunday. Collection boxes are available for donations at Petco, Juneau Animal Rescue and the Southeast Alaska Food Bank.

“It’s a great opportunity to make sure pets in need this holiday season also have the food that they need,” Blakenship said. “Helping people keep their animals fed in their homes, helps keep them from coming to the shelter in the first place.”

Stacks of dog and cat food sit on pallets after being donated during a previous Holiday Cat and Dog Food Drive hosted by the Grateful Dogs of Juneau. (Courtesy Photo / George Utermohle)

Stacks of dog and cat food sit on pallets after being donated during a previous Holiday Cat and Dog Food Drive hosted by the Grateful Dogs of Juneau. (Courtesy Photo / George Utermohle)

George Utermohle, board member of Grateful Dogs of Juneau, said the yearly food drive is an essential part of keeping Juneau dogs and cats that are in need fed nutritious food. Last year’s drive clocked an all-time low at around 600 lbs, compared to a typical year which sees around 800-1,000 pounds.

He said this year Grateful Dogs hopes to get as much food as they can take and said it would be great to get as close to the record previously set two years ago at 2,500 pounds. He said depending on the amount of food donated, the group distributes any surplus to animal rescue organizations in northern Southeast Alaska.

“We’re hoping for anything we can get,” he said.

Any dog or cat food is accepted — even opened or expired bags — as long as it remains wholesome and appears OK, Utermohle said.

“It’s very well received and people look forward to getting wholesome food for their pets when there is food insecurity in their household,” he said. “It’s good to know there’s an opportunity to provide for their pets.”

Utermohle said the biggest demand the group sees throughout the year is the need for more donated cat food. He said each drive, cat food makes up only about 20% of the total amount donated, which typically does not cover the increasing need for cat food in Juneau. He noted that most cash donations sent to Grateful Dogs end up going toward purchasing more cat food to donate, which still does not satisfy the demand.

“We are always short on cat food and we encourage people to donate cat food,” he said. “It’s a good situation for everyone in the community — it makes the food in the community go that much further.”

He said if people are out of town or don’t have time to swing by one of the donation locations during the week, Grateful Dogs of Juneau is always accepting donations year-round and can be made by emailing gd-info@gratefuldogsofjuneau.org.

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.

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