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Make it snippy

World Spay Day powers on, and the quest for a nonsurgical alternative continues

From Animal Sheltering magazine May/June 2013

All About Animals Rescue clinic in Warren, Mich., performed 777 cat spays thanks to PetSmart Charities Beat the Heat grants and World Spay Day. The clinic’s resident cat, Director Smoosh, worked hard overseeing the surgeries.

To paraphrase Tennyson, in spring, a young animal’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.

Unfortunately, the result of that rise in temperature and rise in libido is more puppies and kittens—lots and lots and lots of kittens. Kittens out the wazoo!

Hence the need for World Spay Day, the annual campaign by The HSUS and Humane Society International. The day itself falls on the last Tuesday of February—and it’s the centerpiece of an entire month dedicated to getting animals spayed or neutered. Each year, thousands of animal welfare groups participate in programs to attack the root causes of pet homelessness and shelter euthanasia, working to increase access to affordable services and spay/neuter as many animals as possible. Many groups pitch the events to their local media and some get local government involved, spurring mayor’s and governor’s offices to announce the day in order to drive up community awareness.

This year, several organizations tied their World Spay Day events to Valentine’s Day. While the big snip may not at first seem like the most romantic way to celebrate Cupid’s moment in the sun, it actually makes perfect sense: Keeping animals from producing offspring who may struggle to find homes and end up in animal shelters is truly an act of love.

The work was supported by several key funders, including the Doris Day Animal Foundation, which gave $75,000 to support the spay/neuter services provided by The HSUS’s Pets for Life program and 12 local organizations.

PetSmart Charities also stepped up to the surgery table with funds to help. Noting that a 2011 study it conducted revealed that 32 percent of surveyed pet owners who had not yet sterilized their animals cited the expense as the main reason, PetSmart Charities sponsored a “Beat the Heat” grant program, providing funds to spay/neuter clinics around the country that would allow them to offer cat spays for only $20. Thanks to the fund, 56 nonprofit spay/neuter clinics nationwide were able to offer the subsidized surgeries, resulting in a final tally of more than 15,000 cats in 27 states spayed.

New Ways to Neuter

Not every conference promises to explore “new approaches to birth control, from the brain to the pituitary to the gonads”—and maybe that’s just as well.

But the 5th International Symposium on Non-surgical Contraceptive Methods of Pet Population Control is proud to tackle the topic.The symposium, set for June 20-22 in Portland, Ore., will highlight the latest efforts in pursuit of ways to sterilize animals without spay/neuter surgery.

“I think folks in the animal sheltering field will find this unlike any conference they’ve been to before,” says Joyce Briggs, president of the Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs (ACC&D), which organizes the symposium. And she predicts they’ll be inspired by both the current developments and long-term possibilities in the field. Surgical spay/neuter is a terrific tool, she notes, but it’s fallen short of what’s needed worldwide—particularly to control populations of free-roaming dogs and cats.

Symposium attendees may choose among a sterilant development track that focuses on the latest research and an implementation track that explores existing nonsurgical approaches. Organizers expect Zeuterin, an injectable sterilant for male dogs, to be available to veterinarians in the U.S. by the time of the conference, and training will be offered.

Research in the field is advancing rapidly, Briggs says, “and I feel confident we’re going to have the kind of tools we’re seeking within the next decade.”


For more information on the symposium, go to

About the Author

Animal Sheltering is for everyone who cares about the animals in their community—from shelter directors and animal care and control officers to kennel staff, volunteers, and private individuals working as activists, breed rescuers, wildlife rehabbers, veterinarians and more.