Love is in the air all month long, and with spring arriving soon (perhaps already here) far too many unaltered cats and dogs will be looking for love and producing far too many litters who will most likely end up on the street or in crowded animal shelters. To help bring awareness to this problem, February has been designated "Spay/Neuter Awareness Month" nationally and the last Tuesday of the month, February 28th this year, is known as "World Spay Day".
The reason is clear: if left unaltered, a pair of dogs and their litters can produce 67,000 dogs in just six years. And a pair of unaltered cats and their litters can produce over 420,000 cats in just seven years. Thousands of animals, all needing homes. There are so many homeless pets that animal shelters simply do not have the space or resources to help them all, resulting in an estimated 2.4 million pets being euthanized in our country every year.
Fortunately, there is an easy and effective solution to this heartbreaking problem. Spaying and neutering pets prevents unwanted litters, which means fewer pets in shelters and fewer pets facing euthanasia. Plus, there are other, immediate benefits to your pet when you spay or neuter.
Spaying or neutering your pet prevents many reproductive cancers and diseases, which means a longer, healthier life. Also, your female pet won't go into heat, which is often accompanied by behavior challenges, and your male pet will be less likely to roam away from home in search of a mate.
Seems simple, right? If spaying and neutering can save so many lives and is beneficial to your pet, everyone should do it! I agree. Unfortunately, not everyone who owns a pet is aware of the importance of spaying and neutering, and others are aware but think they can't afford the surgery.
Awareness and education are a big part of the SPCA Albrecht Center's mission. All of the hard work put into saving pets, adoptions, training, veterinary services, and fundraising is to no avail if people aren't provided with the information and tools they need to be better guardians of their pets. You can help by spreading the word with your family, friends and neighbors.
As for affordability, the SPCA's full-service Veterinary Care Center offers affordable veterinary care for pets, including spay and neuter surgery. Regular spay/neuter prices start at just $40 and vouchers are available for qualifying city and county residents bringing the cost down to as little as $20. Visit LetLoveLive.org/spay-neuter for a complete list.
Want to help the cause? On February 28th, World Spay Day, the SPCA Albrecht Center will host its fourth annual Spayghetti Dinner, to raise funds for affordable spay and neuter surgeries. Tickets are just $8 in advance or $10 at the door. Purchase advance tickets at LetLoveLive.org/spayghetti, call 803-648-6863 or visit 199 Willow Run Road, in Aiken. Tickets are also available at both SPCA Thrift Shop locations on Richland Avenue downtown and on Whiskey Road in Mitchell Shopping Center.
Not able to attend? Please consider a donation to the cause. You can contribute securely and easily online at LetLoveLive.org/donate by selecting the Spay/Neuter Fund designation. Every little bit helps. In fact, for just $5 you can help "Spay it Forward" by contributing a $5 or more "Fix" to the cause. A round fundraising card with your name (or the name you choose) will be posted on the SPCA's lobby wall for the entire month. To take part, visit the shelter or click LetLoveLive.org/spayitforward.
Together, with time, and by having a heart for the animals who need us, we can end the cycle of unintended litters and homeless pets.
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 family which includes three adopted cats: Bastian, Luna and Grady, who are all living happy, loved lives thanks to the efforts of the SPCA.