It’s good news for dog and cat enthusiasts, as well as others who don’t like stray animals loitering around their house. The U.S. has seen a massive increase in the number of spay or neutering procedures as outreach and subsidization programs.
Right now, there are around 12.6 million spay/neuter surgeries performed on cats and dogs every year according to the Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs. Most shelters also have requirements that any adopted animal be spayed or neutered immediately after adoption, or the shelter sets up the surgery themselves.
Cat reproduction rates can be significantly higher than dog rates, making it critical that any cat taken in as a pet gets the surgery done within a reasonable time frame. Many cities even have feral cat sterilization programs that work to spay or neuter feral cats, helping to curb the population of cats outside of traditional human care.
Those spay and neutering numbers is the cause of the drop in shelter animal intakes in the U.S. According to the USPCA, there were about 7.2 million intakes in 2011, compared to 6.5 million intakes in 2015. This represents about a 10% drop over the span of 4 years, which shows that we are heading in the right direction.
When shelters have more spots available, pet owners who need to surrender their pets will have more opportunities to secure a spot in a shelter as opposed to just letting their pet loose on the streets. House pets usually do not fare well in the wild and stand a much better chance of having a happy and healthy life by getting into a shelter.
You can help by making sure your pet gets spayed or neutered at an early age and by adopting pets from shelters instead of breeders. Even if you aren’t looking for a pet right now, volunteering at an animal shelter is a great way to learn more about cats and dogs, plus you get to spend time with fur babies you may not otherwise get to play with!