WATERVILLE — Jennifer Mayers just moved to her new home on Summer Street in the city’s South End and already she is seeing dogs and cats — mostly cats — all over the place.

“Gold Street is a walking, meowing, barking humane society in itself,” Mayers said. “There are stray cats everywhere. Mothers are getting pregnant at six weeks or so. Autumn Street is worse.”

Mayers was one of about 24 people who attended a meeting of the South End Neighborhood Association, held Saturday at the Summer Street home of Chris Moody and headed up by association chairman Jackie Dupont.

The focus of the meeting was programs that are helping people of low income in the city’s South and North ends get their pets spayed and neutered at no cost. Also, a free clinic, Project PAT: People-Animals-Together, will be hosted Oct. 31 at the American Legion Hall on College Avenue for people in that targeted area to get vaccines, flea treatments and examinations, all free of charge.

Lisa Smith, executive director of the Humane Society Waterville Area, and Elizabeth Stone, a veterinarian and director of both the Center for Wildlife Health Research and the Community Spay/Neuter Clinic in Topsham, spoke Saturday about the effort to help keep pet owners and their pets together by providing them the medical services they need.

“Our goal is to know every single pet and what it needs and where they live and how we can help them,” Stone said. “It might mean delivering medication to their home.”

The neuter/spay program and clinic are possible through a PetSmart Charities grant to the Topsham clinic. Stone said the goal is to neuter and spay 500 animals. She said the most commonly asked question she gets is, “What is the catch?”

“There’s no catch,” she said. “Everything is free, and it’s coming from an organization that has a lot of money and knows what needs to be done.”

Starting immediately, the Waterville humane society is going to be going door-to-door to let people know about the spay/neuter program, which is covering low income areas in Waterville as identified by the U.S. Census. The territory includes everything east of the Kennebec River from the Waterville-Fairfield town line on College Avenue, south to Drummond Avenue, west to Armory Road and then Main Street, and then south to the railroad tracks on Main and east to Messalonskee Stream. The area ends at the confluence of that stream and the Kennebec River, just south of the sewage treatment plant off Water Street.

Pet owners wanting to receive the service must show that they live in the target area by producing documentation such as a utility bill or lease agreement.

As part of the program, pet owners may call 721-8395 to sign up their pet for neutering or spaying. A place will be designated for pets to be dropped off at 7 a.m. on a designated day and taken to Topsham for the surgery and returned at 7:30 p.m. on that same day.

Those at the meeting Saturday discussed possibly designating The Concourse or Kennebec Valley Community Action Program on Water Street as the pickup or drop-off location.

Carey Lane resident Karen Rancourt-Thomas, a city councilor who represents much of the South End and has been a member of the neighborhood association since its inception several years ago, said the spay-neuter program works.

“I have used their services,” she said. “I had a feral cat showing up pregnant. I had the mother and four kittens and I called Elizabeth (Stone). They were amazing. The cats are now all spayed and neutered. The kittens were five months old. I’m a big advocate in this situation. It’s worked. They are exceptional. They brought the cats back and they were in beautiful shape. These are young, young cats that are having these kittens.”

The free wellness clinic for pets will be held 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 31, Halloween day, at the American Legion Hall at 21 College Ave. It will include free basic exams, vaccinations for rabies and distemper, and parasite and flea treatment for the pets of qualifying residents of the target area. Proof of residence must be shown. Cats must be in carriers and dogs must be on leashes.

As people discussed the programs Saturday in Moody’s living room, his friendly cats wandered through, greeting them and wrapping their tails around their legs. One cat, a tiger, was trimmed up to resemble a poodle or lion.

Smith, the shelter director, said the Webb Road animal shelter, in existence since 1970, serves more than 2,000 animals a year in the greater Waterville area. She said 26 towns and 75,000 people and pets are represented by that region.

“It’s a lot of animals to care for,” she said.

Smith said that over the last year the shelter has worked very hard to reduce the live release rate, which means the number of animals that leave the shelter alive. When she started working at the shelter 12 months ago that live release rate was 69 percent and now is nearly 100 percent.

Right now, the shelter has 58 kittens, she said. She shares extra cats and kittens with a shelter in Portland, as there is very little cat overpopulation in southern Maine, she said.

Stone said her clinic has been open five years and started with a grant from PetSmart Charities, which provided equipment including three surgical stations.

“We’ve done about 20,000 dogs and cats since we opened, targeting all the time low-income people,” she said.

City Planner Ann Beverage, who has been involved in the South End Neighborhood Association since it started, said she knows someone on Park Place who has seen many feral cats in the neighborhood but is afraid if someone traps them, they would be euthanized. Stone said if someone can catch the cats, her clinic will spay or neuter them. Smith said the Waterville shelter rents out cat traps, and the shelter helps find barns for feral cats to live in as part of its program, Barn Friends. People who own the barns look out for the cats and make sure they are fed and cared for.

Beverage said the Park Place resident was thinking about building a cat house for the feral cats.

“We’ll help her,” Smith said.

Stone noted that people may place posters in neighborhoods saying when cats will be trapped, so pet owners may keep their pets at home during that time.

Starting in January another program will be launched, funded by PetSmart Charities, for pet owners who do not qualify for the free, low-income spay-neuter program, according to Stone.

Dogs and cats may be spayed or neutered for $20 with free transportation to and from the Topsham clinic, she said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17