In Mooresville, Ind., Tonja Robertson works the crowd at the bustling little farmers market every Saturday. She sets up near the honeybee-farm booth, arranges the muffins she baked at 4:30 that morning, and speaks of her passion : the millions of unwanted puppies and kittens born every year and the simple way to end that. On a good day, six or seven people accept vouchers she offers for low-cost pet sterilizations.
Five hundred miles away, in Asheville, N.C., more than 100 dog- and cat-toting pet owners arrive at the Humane Alliance or its pickup sites daily, drawn by the well-publicized promise of cheap, quick sterilizations.
Similar scenes are being repeated across the country – from urban centers to farmlands to reservations – through huge initiatives and tiny grassroots efforts.
“There is no disease or condition of companion animals that takes as many of their lives as euthanasia”, Janet M. Scarlett, DVM, Associate Professor of Epidemiology, Cornell University.
‘We now know we can’t adopt our way out of the pet overpopulation problem. We’ve got to halt the problem at the source,’ says Peter Marsh of Concord, N.H. His state allocates $2 of every mandated dog license to help low-income residents sterilize their pets. Since its passage, 70% fewer dogs and cats are being euthanized annually.
The massive number of animals euthanized in shelters ‘was the secret that no one wanted to talk about or hear about’ even as recently as the 1990s, when 17 million animals were being destroyed annually, according to the ASPCA.
– Pet overpopulation and sterilization conferences are drawing thousands. In September, the Southern Regional Spay/Neuter Leadership Conference takes place in Memphis; in October the Fix It Forum will be held in Oak Brook, Ill.
– Big companies are contributing millions. In 2006, PetSmart Charities gave $4.2 million to sterilization initiatives, nearly triple the amount granted in 2002. And the foundation just announced a $6 million, five-year program called Spay Texas, which it believes will sterilize 1 million pets.
– Groups large and small are providing or subsidizing low-cost or free sterilizations, often using mobile units.The North Shore Animal League America is making it simple for anyone anywhere to locate discounted programs. Its SPAY/USA (800-248-7729 or http://www.spayusa.org) service constantly updates a list and answers 2,800 queries a month.
– The Humane Alliance in Asheville, which performs 22,000 sterilizations annually and is regarded as the gold standard for low-cost, high-volume spay/neuters, has received grants from the ASPCA and PetSmart Charities to help groups in several states, including California, Illinois, Georgia, Tennessee and Ohio, establish similar programs. The euthanasia rate in the Asheville area has been reduced by 72%.
~~ USA Today, July 4, 2007
Animal Services in the GTA spend millions every year to chase, shelter, feed and euthanize thousands of unwanted animals. No municipality is investing in the only proven solution to pet overpopulation: high-volume spay/neuter clinics. As long as spay/neuter surgery remains inaccessible to lower-income families, the number of unwanted animals surrendered to shelters will only increase, along with shelter costs. Shelters cannot afford to put money into public spay/neuter clinics.
Spaycentral is poised to become the GTA’s first such clinic, and funds are being raised to open the facility in donated space at OSPCA’s Newmarket headquarters.
The clinic will be run by the charity Spaycentral Toronto. Operating out of the Newmarket facility, the shelter will be easily accessible from highway 404, and a shuttle service is planned to and from the Don Mills subway station, supplemented by volunteer pickup and drop-off.
Operating on a self-financing business model, income from surgery fees and use of volunteers in non-surgical positions will allow the clinic to raise the revenues to cover expenses. It is expect that the clinic’s operations will break even after one year, and that after three years, profits will be put toward opening a second clinic. It is estimated that 7,800 surgeries can be accomplished in the first year, increasing to 12,000 and 18,000 surgeries in years two and three. A program for strays and feral cats is being planned.
Spaycentral Toronto is part of the National Spay Neuter Response Team (NSNRT) initiative of the Humane Alliance, located in Asheville, North Carolina. The Humane Alliance has developed a boilerplate program that organizations such as Spaycentral can use to fast-track the opening of spay/neuter clinics. Sixteen US clinics already operate successfully on this clinic model
As well as operating its own spay/neuter clinic that sterilizes thousands of dogs and cats each year, the Humane Alliance also offers a valuable mentoring and training program that supports clinics like Spaycentral Toronto.
Spaycentral is the first Canadian organization accepted into the program.