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NOT REALLY A QUESTION by Mariana Rivera Rodríguez

Eight million pets find themselves in animal shelters every year in our country. Up to half of these unfortunate animals will never find a home, and sadly, with shelters running over capacity, the ones that are left behind are sentenced to euthanasia. That’s almost four million pets euthanized in shelters every year in the United States.

The high prevalence of shelter euthanasia in our country, and here in North Carolina where close to 200,000 shelter animals are euthanized yearly, is a direct result of overpopulation. The best way to treat overpopulation is to prevent it from happening in the first place. And, the best way to prevent the births of thousands of unwanted, shelter-bound puppies is simply to spay potential mothers and neuter potential fathers.

Adopting a homeless animal from a shelter is a great cause, but adopters simply cannot keep up with the daily influx of these animals, and shelters across the country are chronically over-crowded. The practice of euthanizing unadopted animals has become the only way for many shelters to manage their overflowing numbers. But the overpopulation cannot be cured by either adoption or euthanasia. “We cannot kill our way or adopt our way out of this problem,” says Laureen Bartfield, DVM, director of the Spay Neuter Assistance Program of North Carolina (SNAP-NC).

SNAP-NC is a non-profit charity offering affordable spay/neuter surgeries to North Carolina pet owners and has been sterilizing pets in the state for more than 10 years. Their mission, Bartfield says, is “to address the pet overpopulation issue in our state by offering high quality, low-cost spay/neuter surgeries.” Research has shown that the animals most at risk of ending up in shelters originate from low-income households, where, on average, fewer pets are sterilized. The SNAP-NC surgeons work out of a mobile veterinary clinic, essentially a veterinary operating room on wheels, traveling to locations in 12 North Carolina counties, making the low-cost service as accessible as possible, to as many people as possible.

Also patrolling North Carolina neighborhoods is the Pet Overpopulation Patrol (POP-NC), another low-cost mobile spay/neuter operation. Meredith Barthelemy, program manager at POP-NC, says that many of their potential clients have not spayed or neutered their pets “because they do not have the finances to do so or they are not aware of the spay/neuter options available.” POP-NC brings its mobile clinic to nine different locations in eight counties in the state.

18 Volume 2 • Issue 1 T The Triangle Dog

On top of their regular affordable prices available to all pet owners, SNAP-NC runs their Prevent Another Litter Subsidy Program (PALS). PALS-qualified, low-income pet owners may have their surgery subsidized for as low as a $30 cost to them. POP-NC also works with voucher and subsidy programs with rescue groups and animal shelters to subsidize the cost for needy pet owners.

Low-cost spay/neuter options are also available at many animal shelters, such as the SPCA of Wake County, performing on-site procedures and also running a voucher program of their own. And you can always ask your regular veterinarian if he or she participates in any voucher programs, or can help you with a payment plan if you’d like to have the procedure done there.

The spay/neuter operation is invasive but not particularly dangerous. Neutering for male pets consists of castration of the testes, and spaying for

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