By Laura Valentine | Photos By Jenn George
Bartie was a “community cat” living on a street in the Inglewood neighborhood of East Nashville. She belonged to no one and had litters of kittens year after year.
Natalie Corwin, Pet Community Center (PCC) CEO, recalls the many failed attempts to humanely trap Bartie so she could be spayed, vaccinated and returned to her street. It was only after she went into a neighbor’s basement — after two years of evading them — that they were able to finally trap her.
Since Bartie, PCC has spayed and vaccinated more than thirty cats from that same street.
Founded in 2011, the PCC knew they could help reduce the pet overpopulation problem in Nashville if they directed resources to low-income pet owners who struggle to afford quality vet care and to “community cats,” who nobody owns.
They raised money to subsidize the cost of spay/neuter services while simultaneously creating a Community Cat Program to improve the quality of life and humanely reduce overpopulation.
Word spread and soon, demands for services outstripped resources. Even though transporting animals twice a week to a network of private vet clinics and one spay/neuter clinic, there were 1,000 animals on their waiting list at any given time. The logical next step was to open their own spay/neuter clinic.
In 2014, they formed a partnership with Metro Animal Care and Control (MACC) to significantly reduce the number of animals going into the shelter. Using data collected by MACC, the PCC identified which zip codes had the highest incidence of animals being surrendered, what kind of animal (dog or cat) and whether they were strays or owner- surrendered. Based on the results, the PCC opened its Spay and Neuter Clinic in East Nashville, the epicenter of zip codes containing the highest number of shelter intakes.
“The PCC has provided care for more than 45,000 animals — nearly 80% of those since the new clinic opened in 2014,” Corwin said.
A proponent of using data to inform programming, she said the 2015 results reflected that although the number of stray intakes decreased at MACC, the number of owner-surrendered intakes did not. The owners’ cited a lack of access to affordable vet care as their top reason for surrendering their pets. The PCC got resourceful and added a Wellness Program at the Clinic and converted a donated RV into a Mobile Vet Clinic, allowing them to target zip codes with the highest incidence of owner-surrendered pets and geographic areas where no private vet clinics existed.
“We’ve begun the search for a new home,” Corwin said. “East Nashville and Metro have been very good to us, but we’ve outgrown the building and plans are to move by the end of 2019.”
What: Pet Community Center
Where: 943 Doctor Richard G Adams Drive