Animal related


Saving cats by reducing overpopulation

aka Spay Neuter Coalition

Deadwood, SD


To alleviate the animal suffering that results from pet overpopulation by providing affordable spay/neuter services to low-income pet guardians.

Ruling Year



Ms. Donna Watson

Co Principal Officer

Ms. Shari Rose

Main Address

PO Box 286 c/o Donna Watson

Deadwood, SD 57732 USA


low-income, low, income, spay, neuter, cats, feral, domestic, south dakota, black hills, rapid city,





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Animal Protection and Welfare (includes Humane Societies and SPCAs) (D20)

Public, Society Benefit - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (W99)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (D01)

IRS Filing Requirement

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Programs + Results

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Our programs

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Assistance

Where we workNew!

Our Results

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Number of animals euthanized

Population(s) served

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Charting Impact

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What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

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What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

The SD West River Spay/Neuter Coalition's primary goal is to keep cats out of the shelter and reduce shelter deaths through spay/neuter. Since becoming operational in 2006, Coalition volunteers have been responsible for altering 8,543 cats in western South Dakota, preventing the births of thousands of kittens, many of which would have been born to suffer or die at the shelter, reducing shelter intake at the Humane Society of the Black Hills (HSBH, the largest open admission shelter in western SD) by 59% (3,713 cats in 2007, 2,193 in 2016) and deaths by 61% (2,476 in 2007, 969 in 2016) (Figure 8). We work to save cats' lives by providing low-income cat caretakers access to our contracted, reduced-cost spay/neuter costs. Our targeted clientele has an average of three cats per household. Without our help, clients would pay up to $412.50 for three cats given the standard regional spay ($175) and neuter ($100) prices ($137.50 average cost per cat). With our help, clients pay $84 to fix all three of their cats ($28 average cost per cat). Our region of South Dakota is rife with poverty. Three SD counties have up to 54% of residents living at the poverty level, with many more in poverty in all SD counties. At the poverty level, after paying for food, clothing, transportation, shelter and other necessities, many cat caretakers find fixing three cats, even at our substantially discounted rates, completely unaffordable. Through grants and donations from individuals, we help these people with additional financial support. Our volunteers also offer trapping assistance, medical help when necessary, and transport cats to the vet, with round-trip mileage in our region often reaching 60 miles or more. We help clients in Wyoming, Nebraska, and North Dakota, and wherever our help is needed.

Clinics: We hold reduced-cost spay/neuter clinics for cats in three locations: Rapid City (pop. 17,000), Spearfish (pop. 8,000) and Belle Fourche (pop. 9,000). In the spring we will begin hosting clinics in Custer (pop. 2,000). For these clinics, cat caretakers must fall within WIC guidelines and show proof of limited income (food stamp card, SSI, etc.) We have no geographic restrictions. For each clinic, we advertise through Facebook, our website, the local newspaper and flyers. A volunteer takes calls and signs up those who qualify, attends the clinic to check in clients, collects monies and pays the veterinarian the full contracted cost, which includes both client and Coalition contributions. Our vets limit the number of females to 9 or 10, and we average 15-20 cats per clinic. In 2016, the Coalition altered 223 cats through the clinics. Vouchers: Many times cat caretakers cannot attend our clinics for a variety of reasons, and because of this we instituted a highly sophisticated interactive online voucher system backed by a database. Clients sign up online and receive a call back from a volunteer within a day or two. The volunteer confirms client information received through the pre-registration form or requests the information necessary to complete a voucher, first determining if the caller is qualified, then obtaining the location of residence, nearest veterinarian, number of cats, and the amount the caretaker can pay. The client is informed how much the Coalition will contribute, and this information is provided on the voucher. Clients are directed to a clinic if possible, or are sent a voucher by mail. Later, volunteers use vet bills or direct knowledge to confirm voucher use, allowing us to query the database for an immediate and accurate assessment of surgeries performed. The Coalition generally pays a portion of the discounted cost our participating vets give us to help those in poverty circumstances, those who have rescued cats or kittens and those with multiple cats, including abandoned cats. We receive numerous calls from cat colony caretakers in towns (mobile home courts, strip malls, campgrounds) and from rural folks who live on gravel roads where uncaring people have discarded tame cats. There are no geographic restrictions on vouchers and we accept cats from qualified clients as far away as southern Montana, eastern Wyoming, northern Nebraska and central South Dakota, as long as they are willing to drive the distance. In 2016, the Coalition helped fix 969 cats through the voucher system. Voucher and clinic fixes (total 223) added up to a total of 1,194 cats fixed, preventing the births of an estimated 125,370 kittens, and saved local shelters approximately $105,490 for housing and euthanizing unwanted cats. We save cats' lives, taxpayers' money, and our clients the heartache of deciding whether they feed their ever-growing number of cats or themselves.

The Coalition has been assisting Black Hills cat caretakers with the cost of spay/neuter surgery for over a decade. We have strong working relationships with the Twin City Animal Shelter in Lead, SD, the Western Hills Humane Society in Spearfish, and the Humane Society of the Black Hills (HSBH) in Rapid City. We are just a small group of dedicated volunteers, but we have made a measurable difference in shelter deaths at the only open-admission shelter in our area, the Humane Society of the Black Hills (HSBH).

We obtain annual euthanasia statistics from the largest open admission shelter in our area to assess our productivity, then run statistical analyses to evaluate our efficacy.

Until three years ago, the Coalition was the only organization in Rapid City funding discounted cost spay/neuter, so we are proud of our accomplishment in helping reduce both intake and euthanasia at the shelter for proving that spay/neuter is an important and effective way of reducing shelter deaths, and for inspiring others to follow our lead.

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Board Leadership Practices

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?