Working toward a no-kill nation

Too many unwanted pets are euthanized each year; spay and neuter is critical

About the author:
The author fosters dogs (like Pops, pictured) with the Chico Animal Shelter and traps cats with Neighborhood Cat Advocates.

My family loves animals. When I was growing up in the ’70s, we always had dogs and cats—none of which were spayed or neutered. Neither were the pets of anyone we knew. When our dog had puppies, we thought it was the greatest thing! We found homes for the pups, who likely also went on to add to the pet population. That was also the era when approximately 20 million adoptable, friendly, healthy dogs and cats per year were being euthanized in shelters. It hurts to think about.

Happily, attitudes have changed. The first low-cost spay/neuter clinic opened in Los Angeles in 1971, and communities everywhere stopped looking at companion animals as “disposable.” Responsible pet owners now know that part of owning a pet is making sure that it is spayed or neutered.

Still, although exact numbers are impossible to come by, it’s estimated that about 4 million adoptable animals are euthanized every year, a number that has held steady for about a decade. We’ve stopped making progress toward reducing this huge number. That’s over 11,000 a day—almost unthinkable.

For many pet owners, the need to get your pet spayed/neutered is old news. If your pet is fixed already, here’s what you can do to help: Donate to programs that help others afford to spay/neuter. Volunteer to transport animals from high-kill shelters to rescue organizations. Encourage friends and neighbors to spay/neuter their pets. Adopt your pets from a shelter, not a backyard breeder!

World Spay Day is Feb. 23; it’s a day dedicated to raising awareness of the need to spay/neuter. We’re fortunate here in Chico. Butte Humane Society has a low-cost spay/neuter clinic. Not low cost enough? Contact Pawprints Thrift Boutique and they’ll help pay for your pet’s spay/neuter surgery. Neighborhood Cat Advocates is a volunteer group that has trapped, spayed/neutered and returned almost 3,000 unowned and feral cats since January 2013. The resources are there; we just need the buy-in. There’s more work to do, but a no-kill nation is possible.