Shelters Should Reach Out to Assist Pet Owners BEFORE the End of the Road

A posting which appeared yesterday on the Facebook page of the “Friends” of MAS group:

Friends of Memphis Animal Services

Friends of the Memphis Animal Shelter has received a grant from the Margarette J. Sather Animal Welfare Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis. These funds are being used to offer a $10.00 co-pay spay/neuter to anyone surrendering puppies or kittens to the shelter enabling the owner to have the parents spayed/neutered to prevent future surrenders to the shelter. It will also offer a spay/neuter surgery to anyone who is surrendering an animal due to inability to pay for the surgery. A list of Memphis Vets participating is available to those taking advantage of the offer. We are up and running! We have always felt that the shelter intake desk is an obvious place to make spay/neuter available as these are the people bringing puppies and kittens to the shelter or surrendering a pet due to inability to pay for spay/neuter surgery. We are very proud to be able to offer these services to people in need who are surrendering pets to the shelter.

Once again, the “Friends” of the Memphis pound are being reactive instead of proactive regarding the needs of pets in the community.  The shelter intake desk is not the “obvious place” to offer low cost neuter services.  By the time people are surrendering their pets at the pound, it’s the end of the road.  That isn’t to say that counseling should not be offered – indeed it should.  But to truly make an impact in the community, low cost spay-neuter should be made easily accessible to people who need it while they are still 100% committed to keeping their pets.

As if to illustrate this point, the second commenter on the above FB post said:

How do I get one ? We have a lab mix puppy that needs to be spayed ASAP !! We rescued her and it’s very expensive at a vet .

This is the obvious place to offer low cost neuter.  The person wants to have her dog spayed but can’t afford it.  She is looking for a way to get it done that she can afford.  She has no intention at this point of giving up her puppy and she hasn’t yet had any unplanned litters to surrender to the shelter.  Why not offer her one of these vouchers?  It makes no sense to wait until she’s overwhelmed financially and/or has 9 unvaccinated Lab mix puppies to bring to the pound.

A shelter should ideally be a place where pet owners in the community turn for advice and assistance before they are utterly desperate.  In order for that to happen, the public must see the shelter being proactive and involved with the community at every possible opportunity.  In marketing a service which will be used by the average pet owner only rarely, the shelter must continually reach out to the public so that owners will think of them when that rare need arises.  Waiting until the pet owner comes to you out of desperation is not the way to save animals.

Memphis needs a group that would be a Friend to the animals, not to the pet killing facility.

7 thoughts on “Shelters Should Reach Out to Assist Pet Owners BEFORE the End of the Road

  1. Transportation is a big issue with s/n, too. It would be nice if Friends had an outreach program to help people transport their pets to and from the vet. After all, it’s tough to take a pet on the bus…

  2. Proactive and ahead of her time, in 1999 Dr. Ellen Jefferson founded Emancipet, the low-cost/no-cost spay/neuter and vaccination center with a stationary clinic near the new open admission Austin Animal Center as well as mobile clinics visiting neighborhoods in need. She is executive director of Austin Pets Alive, the rescue group greatly responsible for making and keeping Austin a No Kill Community and has now created American Pets Alive. I encourage communities to follow her lead.

    For instance, the month of May is for celebrating puppies and kittens. Free spay/neuter, vaccinations and microchipping to those under 5 months. They accept donations!

  3. In the original Facebook post it does say that they would be offering the program to people who could not afford to spay and neuter their pets. They were just focusing on reaching the people that walk thru their doors every day.

  4. I actually think that the Friends’ program, if executed as it is described, will be very helpful. While a proactive approach is really the best, there are quite a few people out there who don’t realize the value and importance with spaying or neutering their dog or cat until they are faced with a “surprise” litter. Sometimes facing the shelter counter and having been left with no other options is the waking point. I’ve met many people who claim that they can easily find good homes for the puppies or kittens if an “oops” should happen with their intact pet. It is very difficult to pursuade such people to take advantage of spay/neuter programs until they learn from a sad experience. At least this is a step in the right direction. Hopefully educating one person at the shelter intake counter can lead to that person in turn helping to spread the education into their community.

  5. Its better than nothing, but still a before-it-happens approach would be the better solution. Mobile clinics would be best.

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