Outer Banks couple on a mission to spay and neuter 400 cats

Clear the Shelters

KITTY HAWK, N.C. (WAVY) — For the last month, 10 On Your Side has been working with local animal shelters to get as many animals adopted as possible. It’s part of a nationwide initiative called Clear the Shelters.

To date, more than 1,000 animals in Hampton Roads have found their forever homes.

Kitty Hawk residents Deborah and Don Dowty have always loved and cared for animals. He is a veterinarian and she is a veterinarian technician. In 2016, something changed for them and since then, they’ve made it their mission to help every cat they can.

The Dowtys’ rescue is called “Spay and Neuter Today,” and they run it out of their home.

“That’s Cubby, and he came to us pretty much blind,” said Deborah. “That’s Gabriella. She loves everyone.”

They care for roughly 40 cats. Some came in from shelters, others from the streets. The Dowtys have been working together since 2005, first driving around the Outer Banks and North Carolina in their mobile spay and neuter van.

In 2016, Deborah got sick.

“It was a very rare cancer that very few people survive,” said Deborah. With only a 10 percent survival rate, she prayed. She said, “If I get through this, if I can survive, I promise we will make every effort to save every cat we possibly can.”

So that’s what they’re doing: rescuing, fostering, spaying and neutering — trying to reduce animal over population and euthanasia rates.

Deborah said, “With what we do, we try really hard to make a difference.”

It’s a lot of work: every day starts with three hours of cleaning. “Food bowls, water bowls, everything is clean, started new, fresh water and litter boxes all day,” Deborah said.

Plus, the medical care adds up, and that is essential before the cats are taken to a nearby PetSmart to hopefully find a new family.

Don said, “They have to be spayed and neutered and rabies before they go to PetSmart. Most of these guys we have about eight weeks before they actually, from the time they come in our door until they actually get adoptable.”

All of their work is funded through donations. Just last month, they got some extra help.

“We recently received a grant from Best Friends and Rachel Ray that was $12,000,” Deborah said.

Their goal is to use that money to spay or neuter 400 cats by July 2020, giving every animal they meet another chance at finding a home for life.

“You say you’re saving a life, but in actuality, many times that animal is saving their life,” said Deborah.

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Watch our LIVE feeds from the Isle of Wight Animal Shelter to see some of the dogs up for adoption.  Watch the fun!

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