Ipsos Marketing conducted studies for Petsmart Charities on a variety of issues related to pet adoption in 2009 and 2011. In this post, I am going to pull out a few of the findings related to spay-neuter.
Close to 1/3 of the respondents who had acquired a pet within the past year indicated the reason they had not neutered the pet was cost. (page 25) Of those, roughly 80% were not aware of any low cost spay-neuter services in their area.
The study also found that more people are using the internet to research spay-neuter prior to having the surgery done. (page 28) It seems to me that those providing low and no cost neuter services should take advantage of this trend in order to increase awareness within the community. A user friendly website with clear contact information is a must. And to state the obvious, any website containing text such as: “There is currently a 9 month waiting list”, “DO NOT CALL US to see where you are on the list”, and similar negative comments are a major turn off for owners.
Pet owners trust veterinary practices to neuter their pets much more than they do low cost spay-neuter clinics or “humane societies”. (page 29) Respondents overwhelmingly believed the private vet office would be clean, safe and take good care of their pets. To my mind, this is a direct reflection of the customer service and marketing put forth by many low cost spay-neuter clinics and “humane societies”. A fixable problem, if anyone involved cares to address the issue.
As far as what motivates pet owners to get their pets neutered, perhaps unsurprisingly, the primary reason is to avoid having litters. (page 31) Only a very small percentage of respondents indicated they were motivated to have the surgery done due to a local MSN ordinance.
Although many shelter directors and animal welfare advocates blame the public for a failure to neuter their pets, there is clearly a need for more low cost services, a need to make the community aware of the services that exist and to instill trust in pet owners via good customer service, marketing and quality pet care. Word of mouth is some of the best advertising money can’t buy. Right now, it’s working against many of the places that provide much needed low cost neuter services. That can be changed.