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20 August 2010


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Here, here, Christie! I am one of those poor people. I just took in a feral cat. If the vet hadn't given me a discount and a payment plan, this kitty would not have been tested for diseases, neutered, treated for worms, treated for an eye infection, vaccinated for rabies. He's been hanging around this neighborhood for ages. It took 5 months to catch him.

Yeah, so I lost my job. And my DH is now on a 32 hour work week. Our kids grew up with animals and it made them good compassionate adults. That was never a waste of money.

Christie, we're barely breaking even. But this guy we've taken in is worth it. Why shouldn't we have help? God bless these vets who will help people like me.

I'm saddened that he would be killed and I would be fined under laws like this.


You put it far better than I could, and thank you for understanding that poor people love their companion animals as much as rich people.

Sometimes I think more as we have less 'things' to distract us. To someone struggling to get by a loving dog or cat can be a life saver. I know I have to keep on keeping on because I promised them they would be taken care of for life. So, thank you for this.


Agreed! At the shelter where i live, they spay/ nueter the animals before they leave. This plus microchip, lisence, free check up are at low price of 90-100 dollars. It is very nice for the people and it has helped reduce pet population.


Thanks Christie. This practice is alive and well in SF, where low-income owners of dogs that look like pit bulls have been hiding their pets from sight for several years. (Many tell us that they only walk them at night to avoid confiscation and destruction) SFACC loves its MSN law and SFSPCA maintains a "neutral" stance. So much discouraging discrimination in this world class city.

Barbara Dini

My partner and I live well under the poverty level. We have a cat that Cliff found. She'd been abandoned in the forest at age 5 weeks. We had to scrimp and scrape to do the right vet things for her, but it was worth it. We also have been supporting a mama feral cat and her three grown kittens, even tho we moved away from that town. But most poor people would not be able or willing to make what have been to us huge financial sacrifices for the sake of critters. Poor people need ouside help in order to do the right things for their pets. Please find ways to help.


So, what you are saying is that everyone should be able to own an animal if they want to - regardless of whether proper health care can be provided... because spay/neuter is only a small part of the total cost of owning an animal, isn't it? Kind of going the route of government subsidized human children, then?

Certain luxuries are beyond the reach of people who lack the resources to afford them, different luxuries for different incomes. I think it's ridiculous to say low income people are *by definition* the target of spay-neuter laws. I must be the target of real-estate prices because I can't afford that mansion I want.

While I agree with the premise you make about children benefitting from animal ownership, isn't owning an animal a responsibility that needs forethought on how you are going to care and provide for said animal? Shouldn't that be part of the lesson?

Ownership without the means to care responsibly? Why not? Heck, we'll just rely on the government to assist after the fact. That is the wrong message to send. Owning a living being is a luxury, not a right.

Christie Keith

Ellen, define "proper health care."

Few people would be able to afford to have CHILDREN if not for government-provided education. Few of us would be able to own homes if we couldn't deduct our mortgage interest from our taxes. Few of us would be able to retire, ever, if not for Social Security and Medicare.

Got a problem with all that, too? If so, fine, you're consistent, at least. But that's not the world I want to live in.

Children being able to have pets is so important to the future of a humane world, and widespread spay/neuter is so beneficial to society -- the money invested in subsidized spay/neuter comes back several-fold in reduced future animal control costs -- that I am absolutely saying we should subsidize s/n for the pets of poor people. You bet.

As to what other pet-related expenses people can afford, well, let me paraphrase something someone said on Facebook last night: Ask any dog or cat on the way to the kill room if they'd rather go with a poor family who might, sometime in the future, be unable to treat some illness the pet had, or die RIGHT THEN....

Joani Schofield

It seems to me that there are programs out there for reduced or free neutering, but they are hard to find and aren't well known. It also becomes an exponential problem, one cat that isn't fixed has 6 kittens, they all have 6 kittens, etc. Education for pet owners is key, the facts you present in this article are a good start.

I totally agree that laws aren't always the answer.

Gina Spadafori

It also becomes an exponential problem, one cat that isn’t fixed has 6 kittens, they all have 6 kittens, etc.

Comment by Joani Schofield — August 21, 2010

Actually, Joani, it doesn't become an exponential problem at all.

Good public policy is built on the foundation of accurate information.


Mandatory S/N laws are useless. As an animal rescue volunteer, I know for a fact that if it were more widely available, and affordable, most people will do the right thing and have their pets altered. I have fostered too many orphaned and abandoned cats and kittens that have been thrown away like trash because someone didnt have the resources to take care of them. I know that in my county here in Cali, S/N vouchers for 2009 were gone in less than a month and the program (POPCO) was suspended indefinately for the future. The best thing people can do is give the unwanted kittens or puppies to a rescue, then the animal can get the care they need and be given good homes. But please, please dont abandon them outside where they have little to no chance for survival. What a horrible way to die! Many times, by the time they get to me they are too far gone already. Then I have to watch them die in my arms. Mandatory spay/neuter laws are useless in this economic climate and will cause more heartache and trouble than they are worth.


Just to add to the issue, I've been reading some reports from people in mandatory s/n areas that the vet costs shoot much higher for those procedures once the laws take effect.


New Hampshire has successfully reduced it's euthanasia rate by something like 80% by subsidizing spay/neuter to all pet owners who meet specific low-income guidelines. And this works!

And witness how many people on Native reservations line up with their pets when the Neuter Scooter bus arrives. People want to do the right thing by their animals. Too many can't afford it or lack transportation. Providing free and/or low cost s/n and transportation if necessary to everyone who needs it will put a HUGE dent in the unwanted pet population. (Same for ferals - TNR works!) If everyone who wanted their cat or dog "fixed" had the opportunity, pretty soon we'd be seeing 90% compliance - and the people who choose to have intact animals don't, by and large, become part of the surplus pet problem because they are breeders or agility folks or the like.

So yeah - bring on the vouchers and the vans!

Gina Spadafori

So yeah - bring on the vouchers and the vans!

Comment by CatPrrson — August 21, 2010

This is what we're saying!

But every time we do, we're ripped not for being people who've rescued, fostered and placed pets (Liz and I have actually run rescues) but as exploitative "greeders" who make tax-free income off our poor dogs. Even though only two of of the bloggers here have ever bred litters, Christie not for more than a decade and me once, responsible for life to six puppies who had homes long before they were born, going to people who wanted working dogs, which they are.

Oh, and if any income ever results ... I'll report it. McKenzie's litter COST ME a few thousand dollars. :)

It's remarkable, the hate-flinging of people who cannot get their heads around the idea that people who ethically, responsibly breed (or buy from such breeders) are ALSO into rescue and getting shelter pets placed.

Here we're against forced spay-neuter because it does nothing to stop puppy mills while hurting reputable breeders.

And mostly because (pardon me for shouting):

Not only does it not solve the problem, it actually MAKES THE PROBLEM WORSE.

I mean, DUH.

Gina Spadafori

Jackie ... the "government" is going to pay for "animal control" for public health reasons. They can pay for spay-neuter and catch the problem upstream for a far smaller cost, or they can pay more to deal with the problem of animals once they're born, which not only includes killing for population control but also dealing with dog-bites, nuisance barking, disease, etc.

People WILL get pets, whether you think they should or not. Just like people will have children, whether you think they should or not. You can't legislate it away, not matter how much you wish you could.

Help people do right by those pets (and those children, for that matter) and we're all better off. And get this: Studies show that people WANT to do better, and will, if you help just a little.

But punish them and you drive bad behavior underground -- and with pets, you drive the cost of coping with the fall-out up. Mandatory spay-neuter has never, ever worked to do anything but kill more animals and cost more money.


Why should the government pay to spay and neuter our pets? Having a pet is a privilege, not a right. All pet owners should be responsible for the welfare of their animals. And if someone cannot afford the cost of a spay or neuter, I question whether or not they can afford the other costs incurred when owning a pet, i.e. food, shelter, vaccinations, and other healthcare costs. The tax payers money should not go to irresponsible pet owners, when there are so many needy children, elderly, and veterans that go uncared for.

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