Thursday, January 22, 2009

On encouraging people to get their pets neutered

This topic can become very heated, as some people feel the problem of homeless pets is so serious that we should simply refuse help with the cost of veterinary treatment to anyone who lets their animals breed. Others would like to see us offer universal free neutering; or campaign for legislation to enforce neutering; or refuse to work with any person or organisation involved with pet breeding. 

One possibility would be to follow the stance of the Dogs Trust scheme for dogs belonging to homeless people. This scheme does not pay for any costs associated with whelping or pregnancy and requires owners to get their pets neutered within a set length of time after registration for help with veterinary treatment. The trouble with this is that it's not an awful lot of help to the pet who's brought to us already in labour. In fact, like mandatory spay/neuter programs in other countries, it falls down because any sanctions for non-compliance are quite likely to hit the pet much harder than the owner. 

In practice, we do the best we can. We offer low-cost spay/neuter at our clinic and by voucher at private vets. We won't help with the cost of vaccinating litters of puppies which are clearly going to be sold on, as that's just increasing the potential profit per puppy and encouraging the owner to breed another litter. 

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