MANCHESTER - The Manchester Animal Shelter has spayed or neutered more than 500 pitbulls and pitbull mixes since 2009 and has just received a second $10,000 grant from television personality Bob Barker's DJ&T Foundation to continue the Fix-A-Pit program.
In Fix-A-Pit, the shelter will spay or neuter Manchester pit bulls and pit-bull mixes free of charge.
Manager Shelley Greenglass said the shelter has been working with Manchester police animal control officers to map out the areas of the city with the highest concentration of unaltered pit bulls. She recently sent out a letter to 175 owners informing them about the program.
In addition, animal control officer Neal Vogler carries flyers with information about the Fix-A-Pit service. And, Greenglass said, “Facebook is huge for us.”
Veterinarian Kim Trahan, who said she has done most of the surgeries, said: “It's a necessary thing to do.”
Trahan, director of Animal Rescue Veterinary Services in Londonderry, said the goal is “to keep unwanted dogs from being born.”
Greenglass said there are a lot of unwanted pit bulls and mixes: They comprise about a third of the total number of dogs that end up at the shelter.
Ideally, the females are spayed before they go into heat for the first time.
While Fix-A-Pit is free for Manchester residents, owners from other towns can bring their pit bulls in for surgery at a cost of $150.
Timothy Stewart of Londonderry brought in Lola, who is about a year old, to be spayed Thursday. “I rescued her from a girl who was being evicted,” said Stewart.
He and his son, Mason, 8, picked up Lola along with pain medication that could be needed as the anesthetic wore off.
“She may act a little drunk” because of the anesthetic, Greenglass cautioned him. The dogs also get a collar to wear at night, to prevent them from disturbing the surgery site.
Stewart , who has owned Lola for about six months, said she is a great family dog, but “she's very protective of the house.” If a stranger appears, he said, “she won't let them past the stairs.”
Manchester residents Wayne Heineman, who was picking up Baby Boy Jamison, and Jennifer Leighton, picking up Diamond, took advantage of the free surgery.
Heineman said he knows his dog's heritage. “He came from two friends,” he said. One had the mother, the other the father. “I was able to train him the right way. It was pretty easy.”
Kelly Lynch said her 10-month-old Tessa has been a member of a four-dog family since July. Tessa, with a striking brindle coat, was a rescue dog. As 16-year-old Shayne Downey held her leash, Tessa pulled on it, eager for her ride home to Hudson.
“She is fantastic,” said Lynch, “She's friendly. She's trained.”
Tessa even goes camping with the family. But despite her friendliness, said Lynch, they have to deal with strangers' fear or dislike of pit bulls and pit mixes.
"We've actually had people turn around and walk the other way," said Lynch, adding that even her father had to spend time with Tessa before coming around.
"They're wonderful family dogs," she said.
Fix-A-Pit clinics take place every Thursday at the shelter, with free vaccines and microchips, so when stray pits are found, the city can start tracking their owners.
Appointments must be made for clinic services. The Manchester Animal Shelter phone number is 628-3544.