FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — An increase of 1,000 to 1,500 kittens in four weeks.

That’s what you get when the area’s only low cost veterinary clinic closes in the middle of kitten season.

In addition to providing help to pet owners, H.O.P.E. For Animals performs the second step in Fort Wayne’s Community Cat program, with a Trap-Neuter-Return philosophy.

“We have provided over 15,000 surgeries to those outdoor cats, the ones that don’t have a home but still have a caretaker” says H.O.P.E. For Animals Executive Director Allison Miller.

“They are adding to the overpopulation problem more than any other animal. Having provided 15,000 of those surgeries is saving so many lives.”

The Community Cat effort keeps more space available at partner shelters operated by the Allen County SPCA, and Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control.

With the COVID-19 economy, many pet owners suddenly need the low cost wellness services that H.O.P.E For Animals provides.

“Our phones have been ringing off the hook with people who really want to get into our clinic right now to get their pet taken care of, especially with the upcoming summer,” says Miller.

“They want to have their pet vaccinated, flea and heart-worm protected. They hadn’t been able to do that while we were closed for an entire month. We’re just helping as many people as we can. Right now, the need is great.”

She says applications for their financial assistance program has climbed to 40 a week.

“People can’t even afford the $16 to vaccinate their pet.”

The “H.O.P.E” stands for “Humane Organization for the Prevention of Euthanasia.”

WANE 15 has partnered with 3Rivers Federal Credit Union for Give Back Thursdays. For four weeks, WANE 15 will showcase local nonprofit groups hit hard by the pandemic. 3Rivers will donate $1,000 to the group and match viewer donations up to $5,000 total.

If you would like to donate or learn more about H.O.P.E. For Animals, click here.