“The best offense is a good defense.” That’s the reasoning behind the Serving Pets Outreach Team (SPOT). The best way to address pet homelessness and to keep animals out of the shelter is to help people keep them in their home in the first place.

The SPOT program of the Brown County Humane Society was started in late 2009 to provide community outreach and support for residents of Brown County and their cats and dogs. Since the program began the SPOT program, along with other efforts, has decreased the number of homeless animals entering the shelter by over 57%.

Most people know the SPOT program for the low-cost spay/neuter services for cats and dogs. SPOT offers special deals throughout the year, as well as coordinating transportation and scheduling, to encourage residents to get their pets fixed and prevent pet overpopulation. The low-cost program can save Brown County residents hundreds of dollar per surgery, something many county residents simply can’t afford. Since 2010, the SPOT program has provided spay/neuter surgeries for more than 5,700 pets.

SPOT does much more than provide spay/neuter services. Twice a month, a team of volunteers travels around the county delivering pet food assistance and supplies to those in need. This support allows people who might be struggling to keep the pets who they love in their homes and out of the shelter. SPOT has delivers as much as 20,000 pounds of food a year.

SPOT volunteers also talk to pet owners during these field visits to find out what they might need in order to keep their pets safe and healthy. Many residents may not be aware that SPOT can help with management of feral cats by assisting with trap-neuter-return (TNR), can provide straw to keep outdoor pets warm in the winter, and even help residents transition their outdoor dogs off of chains and into a more humane situation. Encouraging people to have their pets fixed is always an important topic of conversation. The SPOT team has found that having personal, one-on-one conversations can be more effective than simply presenting educational material.

Just like us, one of the biggest concerns for pets is health care. Many pets are euthanized or surrendered to the shelter because their owners can’t afford to pay for veterinary services. So keeping pets healthy is a top priority. Each spring, SPOT holds a Rabies and Vaccine Clinic, where residents can get $5 vaccines for their cats and dogs. This basic care helps provide the foundation for healthier pets, and a healthier community. In 2017, more than 400 pets attended the vaccine clinic.

SPOT also focuses on educating young people in the community, who are often the biggest advocates for their pets. KIND News, an educational magazine from the Humane Society of the United States is provided by SPOT to all K-6 students in Brown County.

So keep your eyes out for the SPOT van. You never know when it might be in your neighborhood.

If you are a Brown County resident and need help, call the SPOT team at 812-703-0797.