It Takes a Village to Raise Awareness
The door to my office usually stays open while I'm working, except during times when I need to deflect distractions, like during an important phone call, a webinar, or when writing this article.
Door open or closed though, the leader of digital distractions, social media, is always just a mouse click or finger tap away. Struggling with a topic, I scroll through posts and within a minute or so I find one that has become far too typical - puppies or kittens, free to a good home, or purposefully bred pups for sale. Distraction fail - back on track.
While I badly want 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, I know from experience that you can't shame people into changing a behavior, not permanently. And lecturing someone on a topic they feel no relevance towards will usually only push them in the opposite direction.
What I can do instead is 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're likely aware that our adoption floors and holding areas are full to the brim of homeless pets, especially cats right now. And hopefully you know that the only solution to the problem of pet overpopulation is spay and 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 spread the word. 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 took in a stray pet and is just unaware of the reasons to spay or neuter.
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 "spay and neuter myths and facts" 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 Veterinary Care Center has surgery prices starting at just $40 for a male cat, up to $125 for a large female dog. Even lower prices are available through City and County voucher 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.
Speaking of deals, right now in an effort to find homes for the many, many cats and kittens in our care, we're running a couple of adoption specials: Adoption fees for kittens have been reduced in half to just $37.50 and reduced to $0 for adult cats. That includes each feline's spay or neuter surgery, up-to-date vaccinations, testing and a microchip.
So, can we count on you to help raise awareness? We will gladly provide you with the information. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org 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. You can help prevent the tragedy of pet overpopulation, one village at a time.
Sarah Neikam is the Communications & Marketing Director for the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. She is an Aiken native and has been with the SPCA since 2012. Sarah lives in Graniteville with her husband, Tom, mother, Cheryl and three adopted cats: Bastian, Luna and Grady.