The Pet Overpopulation Advisory Council, which distributes funds raised for low-cost spay/neuter operations, recently awarded $24,000 to 13 area animal humane organizations and veterinary clinics as part of its mission to help reduce pet overpopulation.

The awards are the first in a two-part cycle of grants to be distributed this year.

One of the organizations receiving funding is the Feliciana Animal Welfare Society to help with its ongoing feline management program. FAWS received $1,800, said FAWS co-founder Gail Dellafiora, of Zachary.

“It’s a big deal to us. These much-needed funds will go toward the costs of our feline spay/neuter program, which has operated for the past seven years in East Feliciana Parish. Now we can continue the program from August through next May,” Dellafiora said.

During those months, FAWS organizes spay days that are performed by volunteer veterinarians and veterinary students at LSU School of Veterinary Medicine’s Small Animal Clinic.

Dellafiora said the spay days occur once a month, when FAWS volunteers transport between 25 and 45 cats — male and female — to the LSU facility.

“This is a low-cost program involving the spaying and neutering of feral felines, cats and kittens belonging to pet owners who can’t afford to pay the full price of the operation and FAWS’ foster cats and kittens,” Dellafiora said. “In the past, during the summer months, there were no spay days, so the program was suspended.”

The expense of spaying/neutering felines that are eventually put up for adoption by the organization, as well as the expense of having feral feline colonies spayed/neutered, is completely funded by FAWS, she explained.

“It’s quite an expensive undertaking that’s paid for with donations by contributors and by the minimal adoption fees we charge,” Dellafiora said. “The donations and fees received also go toward the cost of sheltering an adoptable cat or kitten.”

Despite the grant, FAWS contributions are still very much needed, Dellafiora said, as well as foster homes.

Contributions can be mailed to FAWS, P.O. Box 8633, Clinton, LA 70722.

For information or to see a list of adoptable pets, visit faws.petfinder.com or follow Feliciana FAWS on Facebook.

Other grant recipients include Cat Haven, Friends of Lafayette Animal Shelter, Feral Cat Consortium, Union Humane Society, Robinson’s Rescue, Project Spay/Neuter-New Orleans, Baton Rouge Spay/Neuter, Amite Veterinary Services, Companion Animal Alliance of Baton Rouge, Lovers Not Biters-New Orleans, The Loveabulls Project and Spay/Neuter Iberia Project.

Anyone can contribute to the council’s mission of reducing pet overpopulation by buying an animal-friendly license plate. The cost is $25 in addition to regular plate fees. To learn more, visit www.louisianapetoverpopulation.org.