I just received a message from an animal advocate who said we don’t do enough in terms of educating the public about the importance of spaying and neutering pets. “Many people have no idea have much more expensive these procedures are at a private veterinarian,” she said. She’s right. For something this important, there can’t be enough education.
I’ll give it a shot here.
Since the mid-1970s, the Peninsula Humane Society has operated a public, low-cost spay/neuter at our 12 Airport Blvd. location. Four decades ago, when this was just an idea, our shelter leaders spent a great deal of time reaching out to local for-profit veterinary practices; our staff feared we would receive blowback from these practices for “stealing” potential clients.
The fears never materialized. Not then or not since. For one, spay/neuter surgeries likely represent just a small fraction of business for private practices. There’s that, plus many of the clients we see might not consider having their pet fixed at a private practice even if we weren’t around. While our surgeries range from $50 to $150 (male cat neuters on the low end and large female dog spay surgeries on the high end), the same surgeries would cost someone triple at a private practice.
Around the same time we opened our clinic, we began a community education/outreach program in earnest. For decades, this has included reaching thousands of schoolchildren each year through a classroom visitation program, offering several sessions of a week-long summer Animal Camp for kids age 9-12, and more recently, a Vet Shadow program for high school kids. The importance of spay/neuter has always been a key message.
We know that the availability of low cost surgeries through our clinic and educational messages delivered by our Education Department have profoundly impacted the number of stray and unwanted pets entering our shelter. In the early 1970s, we received 45,000 dogs and cats annually! In recent years, we’ve received 9,000 to 10,000, despite our growing human population and the growing popularity of pets.
We’ve always known that there are local pet owners who want to fix their pet, they know about our low-cost option, yet can’t afford it or can’t easily reach us. For this reason, we worked with a major donor who funded a mobile spay/neuter clinic for us six years ago. Now, in addition to offering low-cost surgeries through our on-site clinic, we bring a clinic – a surgery suite on wheels -- to targeted neighborhoods and make the surgeries free. This has helped us further drive down the number of unwanted pets and removed two hurdles.
Now, some people know of our spay/neuter clinic (or clinics, including the mobile option), but assume the service is of a lesser quality because of the price tag. Quite the opposite. Between the surgeries performed on public animals and shelter animals, we average 26 spay/neuter surgeries per day! We’ve all heard commercials for eye doctors who boast about having performed thousands of Lasik procedures; they want potential clients to rest assured…they’ve done this so many times, they are at an expert level. When it comes to spay/neuter surgeries, our veterinarians are this community’s experts.
From an overall health perspective, a dog or cat owner’s best move is to get their pet fixed at an early age. Female dogs and cats need not have at least one litter. That myth has been completely de-bunked. And, fixed dogs do not become lazy and fat (unless their owners over-feed them or do not provide adequate exercise). Neutered dogs and cats cannot develop testicular cancer and spayed dogs and cats cannot develop uterine or ovarian cancer, nor do they have messy heat cycles. Neutered dogs are much less likely to act aggressively than intact male dogs. In close to 90% of the dog bite/attack cases we see, the attacking dog is an intact (unneutered) male.
If you need to have your pet spayed or neutered, please give our clinic a call at 650/340-7015. If you’ve already taken this important step, but know someone who hasn’t, please help us spread the word. We’ve done our absolute best to remove all possible hurdles.