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 http://www.animalsheltering.org/how-we-help/work-for-change/spay-neuter-campaign-materials/messaging-spayneuter.pdf p. 23 ³ http://www.aspca.org/about-us/faq/pet-statistics.aspx