The availability and use of spay/neuter programs dramatically impact the welfare of pets in that community. Communities with active spay/neuter programs see healthier pets, they see reduced intake of unwanted or homeless puppies and kittens, and they see more live outcomes in their animal shelters. The medical benefits are well documented and can be viewed in other blogs. The reduction in unwanted puppies and kittens seems like it would be obvious, but the actual results can be extremely dramatic. There are shelters without the availability of pet spay/neuter programs for the public that see as much as one-third of their intake being puppies and kittens (kittens may be as high as 50% of cat intake). On the other hand, large shelters that take in 20,000 pets a year that have successful spay/neuter programs for at least a decade are seeing as few as 1% of dog intake being puppies and kitten intake reduced by up to 80%.
In communities without active or available spay/neuter programs, shelters are overrun by puppies, and those puppies get sent all over the country trying to get them adopted. In communities with active and available programs, puppies are a rare commodity, and people have been adopting adult dogs in lieu of waiting for puppies. The result of those shifts are the communities without spay/neuter programs are still having only about half the animals coming into the shelter, and those with spay/neuter are saving over 90%.
How does that really affect my community and me?
Almost every community has publicly funded animal control and animal shelter programs. These programs are almost always funded through local taxes. The cost of picking up and caring for a stray pet can run easily into the hundreds of dollars per pet. Puppies and kittens often cost more than adult cats and dogs due to special medical and nutrition needs. Effective spay/neuter programs can reduce the number of animal control calls for service and the shelter intake by as much as 25% over time. How many programs can you name that save taxpayers money in the long run?
Additionally, many of the largest companies in America look at pet program success as one of the deciding factors when they are looking to relocate or add facilities. Pets have become such an integral part of families that people care if the community is pet-friendly or not – available spay/neuter programs are one key aspect of that determination.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” -Mahatma Gandhi
One of the simplest ways to end the suffering and death of unwanted cats and dogs is to ensure that unwanted puppies and kittens are not an everyday event. Far too often, people will discover that their pet has become pregnant, and it was unplanned and unwanted. In the best scenario, those puppies and kittens end up in shelters or rescues where they have a chance at getting a loving home. In the worst scenario, they die alone in the community. When shelters are overwhelmed by puppies and kittens, their resources are strained, their older cats and dogs do not get adopted, and their euthanasia rates are higher than the national averages. If you could stop the death of a healthy, adoptable cat or dog, wouldn’t you do it?
Spay/neuter programs are the best and most affordable way to reduce the population of unwanted and homeless pets. You’ve surely heard “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In sheltering a few dollars proactively spent to sterilize pets saves thousands of dollars in further taxpayer expenses. More importantly, tens of thousands of dogs and cats were killed by shelters in the past because they could not find homes for them. Since active spay/neuter programs have been growing, those tens of thousands of deaths have become hundreds. In Hillsborough County, Florida, in 2000 – before spay/neuter programs were part of the solution – 23,827 dogs and cats were euthanized. In 2020 (January through October) – after nearly two decades of spay/neuter programs being widely available – only 504 dogs and cats will be euthanized (all of those due to health and safety reasons).
Written by Scott Trebatoski, MBA