The following is a guest post from PETA Prime’s Scott VanValkenburg.
Did you know that February 23 is Spay Day? Leading up to this very important “holiday,” PETA Files readers are going to be treated to a series of posts that are aimed at highlighting the importance of making sure that animal companions are spayed or neutered.
In my time at PETA headquarters, I can honestly say that nothing has changed the situation more for dogs and cats in the border region between North Carolina and Virginia than have PETA’s mobile clinics. The original “Spay and Neuter Immediately, Please!” (SNIP) clinic has been joined by the Animal Birth Control DogDoc clinic. Last year was a banner year for the struggle to end companion animal overpopulation in the poor urban and rural communities served by PETA’s clinics.
In 2009, our mobile clinics performed 8,677 spay or neuter surgeries, preventing the birth of as many as 62,472 kittens and 55,536 pups in the next year alone. That’s easily equal to the local animal shelter intake for one year! The local shelters (where they exist in these areas) are bursting at the seams—so no adoption program can possibly solve the problem—and exporting pups and kittens to shelters in areas with a lower population also doesn’t address the root of the issue.
PETA not only drives the clinics to towns where there are no veterinary services at all (let alone a low-cost clinic) but also uses creative grassroots work to reach people. Volunteers from PETA’s Community Animal Project (CAP) march in the “Peanut Parade” (this is the South, after all) and go door to door trying to help “backyard” dogs. Many of the animals who receive free doghouses from PETA are also spayed or neutered by SNIP. PETA now has a full-time employee in North Carolina who drives a small van to remote residences (many on roads with no street signs) to pick up dogs and cats to take to the clinics. Last year, 562 animals got a free round-trip ride to the clinics. It was definitely the first ride that many of these animals had ever had!
PETA has also worked to have legislation passed that promotes spay and neuter surgeries.
PETA’s clinics are among the few that provide “early” spaying and neutering, which not only prevents accidental litters and helps the shelters we serve with pre-adoption sterilization but also helps the individual animals avoid many health problems. Last year, 2,917 puppies and kittens were “snipped” so that they’ll never have a litter! Our clinics also helped the most abused breed of dog by providing 210 low-cost or free surgeries to pit bulls. And feral cat caretakers brought in 735 felines, moving us closer to the day when there are no outdoor cats.
One local animal shelter reported that it received 100 fewer pups last year than it did in 2008, attributing the decrease almost entirely to PETA’s mobile clinic services. The flood of dogs and cats needing homes continues, but PETA’s local and national programs are helping to stem the tide. Have you waded into this issue?
Written by Scott VanValkenburg