Feral cats are a problem in North Fort Myers, which has areas of woody terrain and so prime places for felines to breed.
And with Lee County Animal Services stretched to the max with its trap/neuter/release program, there is a huge need to fix these animals so they don't procreate.
Our Hope Center Animal Clinic, at 1621 N. Tamiami Trail next to the Smoke n Pit, is doing its share to control the pet - and stray - population.
Brandi Mikolak, owner of Our Hope Animal Hospital, with one of her furry friends.
Our Hope offers low-cost spay and
neutering on feral cats.
Brandi Mikolak, owner of Our Hope, said the clinic is a low-cost, full-service facility that can provide just about any service for cats and dogs except euthanasia and bones; they do not treat exotics.
They provide low-cost X-rays, vaccines, sick visits, grooming and much more.
Our Hope also provides a emphasis on cats where, in a six-year span, one kitten can result in 400,000 offspring, with each kitten-turned cat having multiple litters left outside to fend for themselves.
"There are a lot of concerned citizens in the area who find homeless and strays. I advise they get an advocate who can do that for the whole community," Mikolak said.
If neighbors contribute a little, the advocate can make life a little easier for the cat "colony."
"They can get $5 or $10 from everyone in the community for them, and a couple take it upon themselves to trap, fix and release them," she said of some of the advocates who use the clinic to care for ferals and strays.
Mikolak knows firsthand about cat colonies, having had a neighbor in the plaza who cared for about 20 cats.
"They were released here. They just showed up and I started trapping and fixing them," Mikolak said.
When the primary care-taker tenants left, some of the cats remained. They are "fixed," still fed, and at least one was returned to its owner when it was discovered the "stray" was chipped and miles from home. Darlene's Hair Hut found the owner in Naples, she said.
Mikolak opened the office in 2008 on Pondella Road and Orange Grove and moved to its current location in July 2012.
"At the time I opened, Affordable Spay and Neuter, which was called PAWS, was shut down and there was no low-cost spay and neutering clinic," Mikolak said. "I found a semi-retired vet and we opened it."
It's $85 to fix a female cat, including anesthesia, and other drugs. Males are $80. Dogs are between $120 and $170, and can vary according to size and need, Mikolak said.
Feral fixes are between $30 and $40, but, unlike Lee Animal Services where there can be a significant wait time (or no service at all if they're short staffed,. Our Hope can do it before the cat has another litter.
There are a lot of homeless cats and a number of dogs as well, though not as many.
There is a need for homes for dogs, Mikolak said.
"There are a lot of rescue operations in Lee County. The problem is not enough homes."
Our Hope is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
For more information, call 543-PETS (7387) or visit ourhopecenternfminc.com.