It’s Spay Day—do you know where your neighbors’ cats and dogs are? Or, more importantly, do you know whether they have been spayed or neutered? I do. In fact, one of them is here with me as I write this (and he seems to think that I need to write “#%^)tfr*^lpxc%$#?.>l” here instead of a period). Sam is one of nearly a dozen cats who once belonged to one of my neighbors. The cats came to my attention when I noticed the “free kittens” sign outside my neighbor’s house.
I called the number on the sign and offered to get the mama kitty and the kittens spayed and neutered. Rather than being offended, as I feared she might be, my neighbor gratefully accepted my offer. “She just keeps having kittens,” she sighed, “and I can’t afford to get her spayed.” She also agreed to let me find homes for those kittens I could convince her to part with. (I wanted to carefully screen the adopters, which I knew she wouldn’t do.)
According to a recent survey, people’s reasons for not spaying and neutering their animals usually boil down to simple economics and logistics, rather than a conscious decision not to do it. The neighbor whose cat kept having litters has three kids and is on welfare—she just couldn’t afford to pay for the surgery. (Eventually, the bank foreclosed on her house, which is when she asked me to take the remaining animals—Sam, his sister Bibi, and his mother, Tiger.)
Another neighbor doesn’t have a car, so I offered to drive her to the clinic for her cat’s appointment. Yet another neighbor didn’t realize that his 5-month-old female kitten could come into heat any day. Wanting to ensure that this busy single dad didn’t put it off until it was too late, I offered to make the appointment and take her myself. He readily agreed, and I did the same with the family’s other cat and two dogs.
In total, I have arranged for more than a dozen dogs and cats in my neighborhood to be spayed and neutered at PETA’s “Spay and Neuter Immediately, Please!” (SNIP) mobile clinic. In some cases, the animals’ guardians were willing to pay for the surgery—it was just a matter of making the appointments and arranging transportation. That was a small investment in time that reaped huge rewards in terms of the prevention of unwanted litters—and suffering.
No matter where you live, there are animal companions in your town who have not been spayed or neutered. Here are some easy steps you can take to make your neighborhood a “no-litter” zone:
- Print out PETA’s Top 5 Reasons to Spay Today” poster and plaster them all over town. Post them in your veterinarian’s office, grocery stores, and pet supply stores or on bulletin boards at your local dog park or where you work—anywhere you have permission to place them. You could also create your own posters offering to help animals get spayed or neutered. Distribute them in low-income areas in your vicinity, and remember to include your contact information.
- Have dogs and cats sterilized at a local clinic (ask the vet for a special “rescue” rate) or through a low-cost spay and neuter program.
- Raise money for surgeries by having garage sales or bake sales and by “passing the hat” among friends and coworkers.
- Write to your governor and urge him or her to support a statewide spay and neuter ordinance.
- Ask your local TV stations to air PETA’s spay-and-neuter public service announcements.
- If your local animal shelter doesn’t spay or neuter animals before adoption, push hard for a policy change.
- Donate to SNIP. A $70 donation will cover the cost of spaying or neutering one animal (plus shots, flea prevention, and more), potentially saving hundreds of lives.
Written by Alisa Mullins