Does your animal shelter or rescue offer low-cost or even free spay and neuter services? A spay day event in our area recently was not fully booked with appointments for the procedure. Our community has many people needing financial help to take care of their pets. Our rescues and shelters are overrun with homeless pets. Maybe pet owners just didn’t know about the very low-cost services available that day. How do you get the word out? And how can you educate people about spaying/neutering? Here are a few ideas:
— Ask all the veterinarians in your community to post your spay / neuter information on their bulletin boards. Also prepare a flyer that they can hand out to clients who ask about spay/neuter but may not have the funds to pay for private veterinarian services. Veterinarians may balk at this and view your services as too competitive with theirs. But many pet owners don’t have the funds to pay for spay/neuter services at a veterinarian’s office and need advice on other options.
— Ask pet food stores in your area, both big-box chains, and independents, to post your flyers on their bulletin boards. Provide extra flyers to include in sacks and packaging.
— Ask teenagers in your area to help spread the word on any social networking sites they use, such as Facebook.
— Publish a page about your spay/neuter program on your website and link to it from your home page.
— Ask other pet-related businesses or organizations such as dog trainers, groomers, and boarding facilities to link to your spay/neuter page. Ask them to post flyers as well.
— Does your local newspaper and/or TV station(s) feature pets on certain days of the week? Ask that they provide a community service by helping you publicize your spay/neuter services. They could mention the services in print or online and provide your website address to get more information.
— Ask your local newspaper and/or TV station to write a story about spay/neutering in terms of the lives that can be saved. Publish specific numbers of homeless pets in your community and how many are euthanized each year. Use real statistics to help explain the importance of spaying and neutering to help stop the killing of homeless pets.
Maybe you offer these services at certain times of the year. Or maybe you’re offering these services every day based on income qualification. Some shelters offer low-cost vaccinations also. Be sure your written information is specific on how to obtain these services with a telephone number and email address for obtaining more information.
Refer to a study sponsored by PetSmart Charities concerning pet owners’ perceptions of adoption and spay/neuter. Page 36 of this presentation called “Perceptions Of Spay/Neuter Organizations” says:
Dog/cat owners place a higher level of trust into private veterinary hospitals with taking care of their pet. However, two-thirds believe the procedure would be expensive. Lower cost are advantages of the Humane Society and low-cost spay/neuter clinics.
Refer to pages 51 and 52 for spay / neuter communication strategies. Please take time to read this study if you’re responsible for developing communications for your shelter or rescue. Key points include the following:
The biggest barrier to spay/neuter appears to be a lack of understanding on the issue/importance of the issue, as well as cost of the procedure.
The top motivators among those that have not spay/neutered their dog or cat include:
-Spaying/neutering reduces the number of homeless and unwanted dogs born every year” was rated the highest in terms of motivation to have the procedure, again re-enforcing the need for education on the issue and the impact not having the procedure has on our society.
-Many low-cost spay/neuter clinics provide medical services equal to or better than traditional veterinary offices” was rated second highest among those that have not had the procedure for their dog/cat.”