Earlier this summer, I was in Florida to celebrate Father’s Day with my 88-year-old father, and I saw this headline in the local paper: “Local No-kill Shelters are Overflowing.”
We have seen these headlines before. They happen every summer as we approach “kitten season.” But now, we have the added economic strains of inflation and unemployment to contend with. Many of the nonprofits I know are working at about 75% of their staffing capacity. Many positions are unfilled, especially those key technical positions like veterinarians and technicians.
In the past, my “go-to” solution for summer stress was to get all of the cats spayed or neutered, and to work with the community to support them in their efforts to help their pets. But sadly, in many parts of the country, that option has been taken from us.
To combat kitten season–and to just get by in certain areas of the country–I would recommend that we create an emergency order on the grounds that spay/neuter is a public health issue. We, as an engaged and animal loving public, should support veterinarians in whatever ways needed, and we should facilitate spay/neuter campaigns during the summer months, as a matter of prevention.
I am on the board of the United Spay Alliance which supports and promotes campaigns like Feline Fix By Five. I just can’t see a world where families are comfortable living with an unneutered or unspayed cat indoors. United Spay Alliance recently talked about spay/neuter as a public health concern in their blog post here.
In Bryan Kortis’s model of Feralville–a fictitious town where TNR is 100% done–he talks about the vacuum effect, which many of us in the community cat world are familiar with. But one piece of the puzzle that isn’t addressed, one which I believe has statistical value, is that once the cats in the community are sterilized, many of them do find “home” options. That is one more way that our outdoor cat population will reduce.
However, the bedrock to all of this is the ability to access spay/neuter services. I am hopeful that the excellent group of folks at the United Spay Alliance and their network of statewide leaders will help pull us out of this challenging time.
With that being said, I want to thank everyone who is helping to make a difference in the lives of cats by getting as many cats as possible spayed and neutered. I fear it will be a long, hot, and prolific summer. Please take time for yourself and stay physically and mentally healthy.
On behalf of everyone at United Spay Alliance – thank you!