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PROBE: August 21, 2001

August 21, 2001

QUESTION: I think it's wonderful that Maddie's Fund will help pay to spay and neuter animals. But why can't they make this low-cost program available to everyone?

My husband and I have personally paid for the spaying and neutering of stray cats left in our yard. We did it because we didn't want to have more homeless kittens. The cost to "fix" a cat is about $50.

We think low-cost spaying and neutering limited to Medi-Cal recipients amounts to a form of discrimination. My husband and I work hard to meet our financial obligations, so why are we not given this opportunity for the strays left in our yard?

Why not have a low-cost spay and neuter clinic once a month that will take care of everybody's animals, not just those who have Medi-Cal? — Financially Strapped Animal Lover, El Centro


Because this is the way the family putting up the money decided to do it. If you want a low-cost neutering clinic, you'll have to find a way to pay for it.

If you are a real animal lover, don't knock it. It's not perfect or perfectly fair, but it's a big step toward making a dent in the animal overpopulation.

This could save you money. Anything that reduces the birth rate could mean fewer abandoned animals on your door step.

Last year, Maddie's Fund paid to neuter "feral" (homeless) cats. This year the fund trustees are dumping a ton of money to spay and neuter dogs and cats of the poor. The fund just dropped another $8 million to do that across the state, said Dr. Stephen Bowen of El Centro, one of the veterinarians working on the project.

Poor people love animals but often cannot and will not spend $50 to spay a cat when their bigger problem is making the rice last all month.

QUESTION: Is there a secret formula to turn on the mister and the fountain at the new downtown center on El Centro's Main Street? Why are they not left on all the time? It is such a pleasure to see when the mister and fountain are on. — Love it, El Centro

As you might have heard, the governor has asked cities and counties to cut energy consumption by 10 percent, not an easy thing to do in August in El Centro.

It takes both water and electricity to operate the mister and the fountain, said Martin Tracey, a city economic developer.

"We've been trying to turn them on three nights a week from 8 to 10 p.m.," he said. "And we will turn them on for special events."

There are complications with the fountain. For one thing, it's broken and the manufacturer is trying to fix it. For another, it can't be left on without supervision.

Kids like to climb all over it, including the ball on top. That's a 5-foot drop if a kid falls from the top of the ball. A fall like that could result in a serious injury, said Tracey.

Since the fountain is a natural attraction for kids, it's never used unless city employees are on hand to keep an eye on both it and the kids, he said.

QUESTION: The Sunbeam Lake rest stop is torn up again. Why is it closed more than it's open? Why don't they go east 50 miles and build something to replace that embarrassing Porta-Potty Stop? — Gotta Go, El Centro

You may have a long wait for the new Porta-Potty Stop east of Winterhaven. It looks like construction may not start until 2004.

The California Department of Transportation is putting up two buildings, one for women and one for men, on the eastbound side at the Sunbeam Lake rest area. The state is doing some minor repairs on the westbound side.

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