Let's go for a- walk!
|Barked: Tue Dec 4, '12 11:33am PST |
|Once routine spay/neuter for any dog not expected to be bred gets established, it's self-reinforcing. People, including your vet, don't ask IF you'll spay/neuter; they ask WHEN.
There really is quite a bit of low-cost spay/neuter available in New England, but not equally in every state, and the details differ. MSPCA has a low-cost clinic. Many vets accept the Friends of Animals certificates. In my city, Animal Control negotiated an even lower rate with MSPCA, and provides two-way transportation in the low-income parts of the city. NH has a state fund. Manchester Animal Shelter periodically offers free spay/neuter for pit bulls. The Catmobile offers low cost spay/neuter for cats. Etc.
When I've adopted from a shelter in MA, the adoption has usually included a Friends of Animals certificate, along with a list of local vets accepting it. They're also sold separately. Addy was actually the first pet I didn't use an FA certificate for, and the vet quietly discounted the surgery by $100 anyway. Many vets do this, because it's the one "optional" surgery they don't want you saying no to.
Buddy Dog started consciousness-raising on the subject of both adoption and spay/neuter in MA over fifty years ago.
It's tougher, not impossible, but tougher to keep your dog outside in New England than in the south, mostly climate but also a change in the culture over the last fifty years, and a dog who is inside is much more a part of the family. Giving birth isn't something that happens where the human family finds out after the fact, with the puppies either being born alive and surviving those first few hours, or not. I think that makes a difference, too. Your kids may witness the Miracle of Birth, which loses its thrill after the first time, or they may witness the Miracle of Dead Puppies, and the late-night rush to the emergency vet.
There was, for many years, a large and successful vet clinic in suburban Boston whose owner/chief vet had previously worked for ASPCA, when they were taking in 20,000 cats a year and finding homes for 2,000 cats a year. He never wanted to kill another healthy animal again, and he was a real proselytizer for the benefits of spay/neuter.
There are a lot of factors, some of which were/are regionally specific, and others that aren't. And making spay/neuter both affordable, with low-cost programs, and accessible, with transportation or mobile clinics, can make a huge difference.
But beyond a certain tipping point, as I said, it becomes self-reinforcing. We are basically very smart chimps, and we want to do what the other chimps around us do. In New England, sometime during my childhood, it became the Done Thing to spay/neuter your pets, and so that's what we do.
And that, combined with the shift to not letting your dogs roam, had a huge impact on shelter intake, yes.
Note that we still have a huge problem with cats; it looks pretty much like the dog situation did years ago. Many shelters that are No Kill, or statistically No Kill, for dogs, are still either Kill or Limited Admission for cats, because while there's been a shift with respect to cats, too, it hasn't been as great. And while cats don't reproduce at the wild, impossible rates often stated in the scare stories, they do reproduce significantly faster than the average for dogs.
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