Spay/neuter programs are key to reducing pet overpopulation
We’ve all heard the heartbreaking statistics: more than 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year in shelters across the country. What you may not realize is that out of those 4 million, 90% are considered adoptable.
Some people believe that adoption is the best way to end shelter overpopulation. Others feel that mandatory spay/neuter laws are the solution. Sadly, there is no evidence that either option is effective when it comes to reducing shelter deaths.
While the number of homeless animals varies by state, the majority of animals that are euthanized in shelters are the offspring of accidental litters. This means that the best defense in reducing euthanasia rates is to offer free or low-cost spay/neuter programs.
New Hampshire is a shining example of such a program. Officials discovered that a disproportionate number of shelter admissions come from folks who live below the poverty line. They created a publicly-funded program that targets pet owners on fixed incomes who simply can’t afford to spay or neuter.
The result was a complete reversal of the state’s euthanasia numbers.
In the program’s first year, New Hampshire cut shelter killings by 30%. Annual euthanasia rates dropped from more than 11,000 deaths in 1993 to 1,100 deaths in 2013. But most impressive is that since 2000 no cats or dogs have been euthanized in New Hampshire’s shelters simply to make room for new homeless pets.
Austin is another great example. By providing affordable and accessible spay/neuter services to communities in the Central Texas area — most of which are provided at no cost to pet owners — Austin is now one of the safest cities in the U.S. for animals.
As affordable spay/neuter services become more widespread, animal welfare groups are optimistic about their future role in helping homeless animals. It’s simple math: when intake numbers are reduced, shelters have more resources to create programs that weren’t possible when they were inundated with intakes.
That’s a stat that’s hard to dispute.