Low Cost Spay & Neuter Clinics Aren’t Meant For Everyone


(Picture Credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for ASPCA)

Spaying and neutering are the best ways to keep the pet population from exploding. They lower the number of dogs and other animals in shelters, which leads to less euthanizing of unwanted pets and frees up resources at shelters so dogs can get the care they need. Spaying and neutering are also important for dogs’ health, as dogs that are not spayed or neutered are at greater risk for certain types of cancer, they are more likely to get lost or wander and get injured, and they are more likely to have aggressive, competitive tendencies that can get them into trouble or hurt by other dogs.

There are many benefits to spaying and neutering dogs when they reach sexual maturity, but not every dog owner can cover the cost of the procedure. That’s where low cost spay and neuter clinics come in. They provide the procedure at a discounted rate for those who can’t afford to have it done by a regular veterinarian. Unfortunately, there are those who try to take advantage of these services, even though they can afford to have it done at full price. They want to save a buck, but they take up time and resources that could be used for people and animals that really need them.

Low cost spay and neuter clinics are not meant to be used by everyone. They are only meant to be used by those who need them. So what can we do to make sure that dog owners are being honest, and that they aren’t taking away from people who really need the services that these clinics provide? Here’s what you should know about low cost spay and neuter clinics.

What Are Low Cost Spay & Neuter Clinics?

(BB) LuLuMobile -- First up for a neutering is Henri, a 3 month old toy poodle, as the Denver Dumb Friends League surgeon, Dr. David Robinson, DVM, showed a new mobile spay/neuter clinic Wednesday, Sept. 5, at 2080 S. Quebec Street in Denver. The specialized vehicle was donated by Jana and Fred Bartlit and is named after their own dog, Lulu, a Brussels griffon. Brian Brainerd/The Denver Post (Photo By Brian Brainerd/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

(Picture Credit: Brian Brainerd/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Low cost spay and neuter clinics offer spaying and neutering procedures at a discounted rate to pet owners who cannot afford to go through a regular veterinarian. They are usually run by volunteers and veterinarians who are giving their time for a good cause that benefits both dogs and dog owners. Most of these volunteers do not get paid or only get paid very little for their services. The clinics are typically funded by donations from the community and local organizations. Equipment and supplies are usually donated by hospitals.

Low cost spay and neuter clinics are not run for profit, so their budgets are tight and they really rely on donated resources. Their supplies are limited, and every animal that they care for requires some of those supplies. That’s why it’s so important to not overburden these clinics with procedures that can be paid for normally by owners that can afford to do so.

Who Uses Low Cost Spay & Neuter Clinics?

SYLMAR, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 11, 2014: Karen Halligan, Chief Veterinary Officer of the Lucy Pet Foundation, spays a dog in the Lucy Pet Foundation mobile spay and neuter clinic in the parking lot of Pet Supreme on February 11, 2014 in Sylmar. The Lucy Pet Foundation conducted a free clinic to spay and neuter dogs and cats on Tuesday. The goal of the Lucy Pet Foundation is to have spay/neuter and adoption mobile clinics in every major city in the country. (Photo by Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

(Picture Credit: Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Most shelters spay or neuter dogs that are adopted from their facilities, and some of the cost of the procedure is included in adoption fees, but there are many reasons dog owners might have a dog that hasn’t been fixed. They might have inherited an unaltered dog, they may have been surprised by an unexpected pregnancy in their pet and have a litter of puppies to care for, or they might rescue a dog that doesn’t come from a shelter. If they can’t afford to have their dogs spayed or neutered, they rely on spay and neuter clinics to help them out.

Low cost spay and neuter clinics are meant to be used by dog owners that are under a certain income level or by those who live on public assistance. These services can remove some of the financial burden and provide an incentive for owners to get these procedures done, which in turn takes some strain off of shelters by ensuring that new puppies aren’t accidentally born and surrendered.

Unfortunately, some people who should be able to afford to have the procedures done at their own expense choose to take advantage of these clinics. Some volunteers claim to see purebred animals that were clearly bought from breeders or pet stores for hundreds or thousands of dollars come into their clinics. The owners are definitely able to afford to have these dogs spayed or neutered. Some justify this by saying that their normal vet is trying to rip them off, but it’s mostly about being cheap.

Because these clinics run on volunteered time, financial contributions from the community, and donated supplies, one could say that these people are stealing from charity. How can we keep people honest and make sure that they are really in need of low cost spay and neuter clinic services?

How Can We Stop People From Taking Advantage Of Clinics?

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 18: Carrie Ann Inaba (R) and veterinarian Dr. Halligan (L) examine a dog at the LA Spay and Neuter Festival on January 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.on January 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/WireImage)

(Picture Credit: Tibrina Hobson/WireImage via Getty Images)

Some clinics solve the problem by requiring proof of income or proof of public assistance. Spay-Neuter Kansas, for example, accepts tax returns and other forms of proof. The ASPCA’s Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinics in New York City accepts proof of welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, public housing and more. So long as New York residents have proof of public assistance, the cost of the procedure is $5, while it is $125 without proof.

Other clinics are a little more relaxed about needing proof of income or public assistance and will make exceptions in certain cases. Sacramento Area Animal Coalition (SAAC) Spay/Neuter Voucher Program, for example, requires proof of income for all animals except Pit Bulls, Pit Bull mixes, and cats. While this may deter most people who would take advantage of the program, it wouldn’t prevent a high income, purebred Pit Bull or cat owner from using their services.

And there are other clinics that don’t require proof of income or public assistance at all. These are the clinics that might be most open to being used by people who don’t have a real need. They prefer to trust people to do the right thing, and while most people are honest, some are not. How can we protect them?

Requiring proof of income or public assistance can be one step in making sure these clinics can operate for people who need them, but it may also make it hard for people in desperate situations who, for one reason or another, cannot provide proof of their need. Maybe one thing we can do instead or in addition to requiring proof of need is educating people about low cost spay and neuter clinics and how they operate.

If people knew that these are non-profit clinics run completely by donations, they might be less willing to take advantage of people’s generosity. Very few people think that stealing from charity is a good or right thing to do. We can also educate people on what goes into a spay or neuter procedure so they can better understand why veterinarians charge what they do. It doesn’t hurt for caring dog owners to share this information. Sure, there will always be people who do the wrong thing, and we need to find solutions to prevent them from using resources provided by charity, but education is an important step to take.

What other solutions do you have to make sure low cost spay and neuter clinics are able to provide for those in need? Let us know in the comments below!

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