Friday, May 28, 2010
Biggest Bang for the Buck in Animal Welfare
How can we make the biggest difference in animal welfare? The answer may not be as heartwarming as the story of an abused puppy or a box of cats turned in at animal control, but there is no doubt that the biggest bang for your buck is in spay/neuter programs.
I am always emotionally touched by stories of pets in severe need, and often we try to help those pets. We feel compelled to make a difference for that one dog or cat, and you, our supporters, always rise to the challenge of helping us make it a possibility. I continue to be awed by and grateful to our supporters.
But some parts of a broad animal welfare approach don't tug at the emotional heartstrings. A low-cost, widespread spay/neuter program is one of those parts. In the past three years, through our spay/neuter program called Casper's Fund, we have subsidized over 500 spay/neuter surgeries for Atlanta's pet owners. We have already hit the 200 mark for 2010, and we aren't even halfway through the year. Our program has prevented thousands of unwanted puppies and kittens from entering the rescue/abuse/stray cycle. And the pets who were fixed are healthier and happier as a result of not constantly dealing with the health and behavior complications that accompany an unfixed pet.
Spay/neuter isn't just good for the pets. For an investment of around $75, we can spay or neuter a dog or cat. On average, a cat may have 3 litters a year of 4-5 kittens, and dogs may have 2 litters a year of 6-10 puppies. So far in 2010, Casper's Fund may have prevented as many as 1500 puppies and kittens. These are pets that would be listed on Craig's List, given away outside of Walmart, abandoned at vet's offices or surrendered to animal control. Or even worse, many of these puppies and kittens are just dumped in fields or left on the side of the road.
Can you imagine the cost and resources needed to add 1500 more puppies and kittens into Atlanta's pet population? Your tax dollars pay for the ones that end up animal control. They are caught or trapped, housed and fed for the obligatory holding period, then euthanized. The cost per pet, even for those that stay 5 days and then are killed, is well over $75. For those that are lucky enough to make it to a rescue group, the cost to get them healthy and ready for a new home is $300-$400 minimum. For every $75 investment in spay/neuter, you can save the rescue groups at least $225.
We, as a community of pet lovers and animal welfare advocates, hate the killing that happens in Atlanta shelters. We lament the pet overpopulation problem, and often throw up our hands in frustration, asking "what can we do to really make a difference?"
The answer is very clear - support spay/neuter programs.
Our goal is to spay/neuter 200 pets between June 1 and August 1. In the midst of puppy and kitten season, we want to prevent as many pets from entering the homeless pet population as possible. Each pet requires a $75 investment for a spay/neuter surgery. We need your help to meet this goal.
Can you commit to fixing one in order to save hundreds?