It Takes a Village to Raise Awareness
I'm writing this article from my sofa with the television on mute while my three cats nap nearby. I brought my work home because sometimes there are fewer distractions in my living room than in the office of a busy animal shelter. Sometimes.
At home or at work, the leader of digital distractions, Facebook is always just a mouse click or finger tap away. Struggling with a topic, I start to browse the timeline and within a minute or so scroll to post that has become typical in any yard sale or community group - FTGH puppies or kittens, or purposefully bred pups for sale. Distraction fail - back on track.
The passionate animal advocate in me wants nothing more than to jump into the comments on these posts and lecture about the importance of spaying or neutering; bombard them with statistics and shame them into fixing their pets.
But the animal welfare professional in me realizes that you can't shame people into changing a behavior, not permanently. And lecturing someone on a topic they feel no relevance towards, or feel negatively towards, will usually only push them in the opposite direction.
Usually, all that can be done is to provide information and education. Here at the SPCA, we strive to do that whenever an opportunity arises. But even great information coming from a complete stranger or from an unfamiliar organization loses its power when presented to a closed ear.
This is where you come in. Our village. Our community of like-minded animal welfare proponents; spay/neuter champions and cheerleaders. You are probably already familiar with the SPCA Albrecht Center, Aiken County Animal Shelter and FOTAS (Friends of the Animal Shelter). You're likely aware that our adoption floors and holding areas are full to the brim of homeless pets. And hopefully you know that the only solution to the overcrowding and overpopulation problem is spay & neuter.
We can market and promote this information and our services all day long through articles and social media, ads and billboards, signs and flyers, and hope that it reaches not only people like you, but also people who really need the information. Still, the very best form of promotion is simple word-of-mouth.
So we need you to help us spread the message. Help us get the information to those people who need to hear it the most. Maybe you have a friend or relative with an unaltered pet. Maybe a neighbor or coworker has yet another litter of kittens or puppies they're trying to rehome. Perhaps a member of your church found a stray pet and was discouraged and confused to learn that the shelter was just too full to accept it.
These people need to know the facts. And they will be so much more receptive to the information if it comes from a familiar face.
Not sure what to tell them or where to start? You can begin by simply asking if they've considered fixing their pet. Maybe it's an indoor pet and they just don't see the need. Maybe they've heard some of the spay/neuter myths and were dissuaded. Perhaps they thought it was too expensive.
A Google search for "myths and facts about spaying and neutering" will result in lots of information you can provide to counter some of their misunderstandings or fears.
The ASPCA provides an excellent list of "Top 10 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet" on their website, aspca.org. They also provide a national listing of low-cost spay/neuter programs, including ours, which leads to possibly the most common reason someone may not have their pet fixed: the cost.
Our low-cost Spay/Neuter & Vaccination Clinic has surgery prices starting at just $40 for a male cat, up to $110 for a large female dog. Even lower prices are available through City and County programs starting at just $15 - that includes the pet's spay or neuter surgery, a rabies vaccination and microchipping. You can't beat that deal. Especially when it comes to the health and safety of your pet.
So, can we count on you to help raise awareness? We will gladly provide you with the information. Email me and I will be happy to provide you with the lists and information mentioned above, flyers to post or hand out, or social media graphics to share with your friends and followers. Help us help the animals, one village at a time.
SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare