It’s Not Just About The Cost

Shelters, rescue groups, veterinarians and pet owners all tout spay/neuter as the best current solution to the problem of pet overpopulation. Why, then, are so many puppies and kittens continuing to flood the system?

Most folks believe that increasing the availability of low cost spay/neuter helps to reduce pet overpopulation. Studies show that by simply providing a low-cost option, the number of poor people who spay/neuter their pets doubles.¹ So, it seems logical that we should push for as many programs at as low a cost as possible, right?

Well, maybe not. Sometimes free or low cost programs work against the goal of increasing the number of spays/neuters because pet owners admit they equate low cost with low quality. They choose to keep their much loved pets unaltered, instead of subjecting them to potential “harm”. Mobile clinics, designed to reach out into communities to make spay/neuter more accessible at a reduced cost, are actually the least trusted of all the spay/neuter options according to a recent HSUS survey.²

Despite all these veterinarians, clinics and mobile units offering low cost programs, there still are dogs, puppies, cats and kittens wandering the streets – in both urban and rural areas. Strays and surrendered litters continue to pour into our shelters, regardless of geographic area. Meanwhile, the kill rate (on average) continues to exceed fifty percent of all animals who enter U.S. shelters!³

The push for a free or low-cost solution is not working as well as we all expected. My logical mind thinks there must be other reasons why pet owners – of all socioeconomic levels – still refuse to spay/neuter the animals in their care.

So, if it’s NOT just about the cost, what is it? I’d love to hear your thoughts . . .

 ¹ Redemption, Nathan J. Winograd p.28
 ²  p. 23
Posted in Roverpopulation and tagged , , , , .

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  1. I wonder if perhaps the large number of pet owners who opt not to spay/neuter feel too emotionally attached to their animals and don’t want to “hurt” them. Maybe they view the procedure as traumatic for their pets and are apprehensive to inflict that on the animal they love. If this is the case, owners need to recognize that in not spaying/neutering, they are hurting not only their dog, but the quality of the lives of other dogs throughout the country. It comes down to the quality of the lives, not quantity!

  2. I agree that I’ve seen enough cases with people being offered low cost or even free altering for animals, and this still does nothing to encourage the procedure. It seems that other areas in the south and west have the complete opposite mentality when it comes to spaying and neutering their animals than central Jersey for sure. If you asked your neighbors on either side of you and across the street around here, everyone would have their animals “fixed”. It just seems to be the exception for that to happen in the high kill shelter areas. And you would think because they have kill shelters (unlike many around us), it would give them that much more incentive to do so – but it doesn’t. Is it just a case of “monkey see, monkey do”? Are folks considered foolish for investing in the procedure in these areas? Or is it simply more like a multi-generational norm and who wants to be abnormal?

  3. I think it is an attitude that if their pet is not spayed / neutered it won’t matter, it’s just one cat, or one dog, or one litter. They are not thinking about the big picture. The thousands of ‘ones’ that add up. I guess if that is the way their parents raised their pets & it was fine, they think it is still ok not to spay or neuter. Or to just let them have this one litter because the babies are so cute. Money is not the entire issue. I think it has a lot to do with education and awareness. Many are in denial that this is still happening and that there are so many homeless pets. They find it hard to believe that the shelters or rescue groups cannot find these babies a forever home.

  4. I have heard the following reasons with my own ears.
    1. “Once you neuter him he gets fat and lazy and won’t be a good huntin’ dog no more.”
    2.”I just can’t do it, it seems wrong.” (from men regarding neutering their male dogs).
    3. “My dad will only let us have male dogs.” (my response) “really, why is it the men only want male dogs?” (her reply) “oh because, the males don’t get a cycle and there is no mess to worry about.” (Ugh)
    I believe ignorance is the biggest issue. Fixing that is a mighty feat. Sorry that is what I believe. I also feel we can all take some responsibility and share the reality with people whenever possible.

  5. NJ needs to offer free spay and neuters to all residents. The low cost program they offer for new adoptions just doesnt help the hundreds of thousands of cats populating this state. Even when rescues want to help the cats the costs we bear are astronomical when done in bulk for ferals etc. Yes there are low cost places like PFA but just to arrange it and get the animals there is like having a second job and we are just volunteers. There has to be a way these vets could get reimbursed a reasonable fee for the “average pet owner” who wants to be responsible but cannot afford it. And would like to use their vet of choice for theif pet and not to be made to pick off a list such as FOA etc. even if not FREE make the fee minimal.

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