(From left) Felicia Voelkle, board member of the SNIP Alliance; and Sandra Eaves, a founder of the nonprofit organization.
Everything begins with an individual. It only takes one person to come up with an idea that turns into a business or a best-selling novel or even a world-changing concept. Sandra Eaves is one such individual, along with her colleagues Kelly Myer and Janice Conder.
The women were working together at the Metro East Humane Society when they decided to form the Spay Neuter Illinois Pets (SNIP) Alliance in 2008, when animal control facilities had a high intake of cats and dogs.
“You can build all the shelters that you want, but people have to be educated, which is one of our goals,” Eaves says. “We want to educate the public.”
SNIP Alliance was formed to assist low-income Madison County residents. It provides spay-neuter clinics for families that can’t afford the surgery. It charges $20 for dogs and $10 for cats, and while this could become costly for the organization in the long run, its leaders have found ways around that.
“We get grants through Madison County and we work with other places as well,” Eaves said. “We have worked with Partners for Pets based in Troy, Illinois. We wanted to receive grants and discovered that the more money you have, the more grant money they give you.”
They have applied for a Madison County grant for three years and have received it each year, which has helped balance the clinics’ cost.
Since the organization started, fewer pregnant dogs and puppies have been brought to the shelter.
The organization has worked out in the community as much as it can — at farmers’ markets or anywhere they can set up.
After Eaves had a first-hand experience with a dog abandoned in a creek bottom who was sent to animal control, she began calling cities, counties and villages, only to find they were spending approximately $1 million on animal control, which essentially becomes “trap and kill.” Eaves got into the community and provided spay-neuter services for a reasonable price for residents who could not afford it.
“I don’t care about your social or your economic status; you’re going to love your pets the same,” she said.
Over the years, the association has grown into something much bigger. When it began, it only spayed or neutered approximately 100 pets per year. Now, it serves that number in one day. They also have recently started the Pets For Life Coalition in Madison County, an outreach event in Alton.
“We went door to door and gave free exams as well as 61 rabies shots and de-worming,” Eaves said. “We also provided bowls and leashes and talked about spay and neuter. It all ended up being very successful.”
SNIP Alliance has only begun to grow. They are striving for a pet food pantry in Alton where volunteers would come during the day to package food items and the next day people would pick up the food for their pets.
“We are out here to help people keep their pets in their homes with them,” Eaves said. “Pets are healthier when they are spayed. Education is one thing, but we have to back it up with service, which is something we are doing.”
The organization will hold clinics throughout November in Alton and Granite City at the local animal control facility. They will be Nov. 7, 8, 14 and 15 in Alton and Nov. 6 and 13 in Granite City.
For information, visit www.snipalliance.org or call (618) 660-4910.
• Nov 6, 13: Granite City
• November 7, 8, 14, 15: Alton
Clinics will not be held in December but will start up again in Alton in January and be twice monthly, depending on the weather.