While working as a dog groomer a common question I got was “Where do I find free or low cost spay/neuter surgeries for this kitten I found or my own dog or cat?” While volunteering at the animal shelter I saw that many pregnant pets as well as whole litters came in to the shelter. Many people wanted to have their pet fixed but were concerned about costs or had found a young stray or a feral cat and wanted to find special services for the animal. Many did not know that the animal shelter provides the service that could have prevented the unwanted pregnancies and litters, a service that can save countless lives.
Cats and dogs can get pregnant as young 5 months, even from members of their own litter. They can be spayed or neutered as young as 6 to 8 weeks as long as they meet the weight requirement. As procedures can vary from vet to vet, be sure to ask the recommendations and requirements of the vet performing the surgery.
There are many places to have your pet fixed as well as places that do surgically sterilize and vaccinate ferals. Many places offer spay or neuter surgeries for low cost, some even offer it for free. In addition, a new high volume clinic is open in DC servicing pets belonging to the public, shelter pets, and even ferals or stray cats born on the streets.
The National Capital Area Spay & Neuter Center
The National Capital Area Spay & Neuter Center is now open and offering services for pet dogs, pet cats, and even strays and feral cats in the DC metro area, which includes Washington DC, as well as areas of Maryland, and Virginia. In addition to offering low cost spay and neuter services for those in the DC Metropolitan area, this clinic also offers low cost vaccines and microchips for pets.
The National Capital Area Spay & Neuter Center offers free services for feral cats from within the District of Columbia with CatNiPP (Cat Neighborhood Partnership Program). Low cost services are available for animals and owners from outside the District.
Local Animal Shelters
The Washington Animal Rescue League www.warl.org offers free and low cost services for residents of the District of Columbia and Prince George’s County, MD who qualify based on income. The SPCA/HS of Prince George’s County www.pgspca.org offers a shot clinic as well as help finding free or low cost spay & neuter services for low income residents. In VA, the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria www.alexandriaanimals.org offers reduced-cost spay/neuter certificates for everyone to use at selected veterinarians. They have no residential requirement to purchase and use a reduced cost certificate.
No matter where you live, most local animal shelters offer free or low cost spay or neuter surgeries or can provide info on where to have your pet fixed for free or discounted rates. Many also offer microchipping for pets as well as discounted vaccines, including the rabies vaccine. The rabies shot is required by law and you may be required to show proof of the rabies vaccine before having the pet spayed or neutered, some places may give it the same day. For example, the Humane Alliance Spay/Neuter Clinic www.humanealliance.org offers low cost spay&neuter services including free transport for areas of Western North Carolina. Find your local shelter in the phonebook or online at www.petfinder.com or www.petharbor.com .
Another place to find low cost spay neuter surgeries is www.spayusa.org . They list a few shelters on their site as well as provide a nationwide referral service. However, as they do get a high volume of requests, check with your local animal shelter or humane society first. For those in the DC, MD, VA area, MetroPets Online, www.metropets.org is an available resource . You can look up low cost and free spay/neuter services as well as find services for low income residents.
SNAP Programs for Low Income Households
Check for a SNAP aka Spay Neuter Assistance Program, Spay Neuter Assistance for Pets, or Spay and Neuter All Pets program in your area. Local S.N.A.P. programs are available in different areas. You may be referred to a local shelter or may be able to request a voucher for the pet to be fixed at a local vet. Find websites with contact info by searching SNAP plus your city or state on Google.
Services Feral Cats
Not all places that will neuter or spay pet dogs and cats will take ferals, but there are services available for feral cats and some even offer their services for free. The National Capital Area Spay & Neuter Center offers free services to feral cats from the District and low cost services for ferals outside the area. If are outside the DC Metro area and are having trouble finding a local place to spay or neuter a feral cat, Alley Cat Allies www.alleycat.org can help.
Pet Overpopulation Statistics
According to estimates provided by The Humane Society of the United States, HSUS, 6-8 million cats and dogs enter U.S. shelters each year, only half get a second chance. Half means for one pet to get a second chance, another will not. This applies to young pets too.
Many people think that young puppies and kittens will have a no problem finding good home. However, even if they do find a home, they are still at risk of ending up in animal shelters as many new owners are unable to provide a lifetime of care for the pet. In animal shelters, where many pets are put down due to lack of space, some are put down because they are too young to be adopted out. For some shelters this means any pet 4 months or under, as they require pets to receive the rabies vaccine before going to a new home. Pregnant pets are more likely to be put down due to lack of space or time to hold the animals until the babies are old enough to be adopted. In addition, animals come in daily, whole litters from are not uncommon, and No-Kill shelters are often full with long waiting lists.
You Can Help
You can help save lives. Having your pet spayed or neutered can reduce the numbers of pets that need homes. Animal shelters desperately need foster homes to help care for pregnant pets, puppies, kittens, as well as adult pets. Foster homes are also needed to care for the other animals that come into shelters including pet birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and other small furry animals, as well as reptiles, amphibians, and more.
You can also save a life by adopting your next pet. Animal shelters have a great variety of pets including young puppies and kittens as well as adult pets who are already potty trained. HSUS estimates that 25 % of shelter dogs are purebred and you can find the kind of pet you’re looking for on www.petfinder.com or www.petharbor.com .
You can help even if you can’t have a pet. Spread the word about pet overpopulation and adoption, and by telling others where low cost or free spay & neuter services for pets and ferals are available. The National Capital Area Spay & Neuter Center as well as your local Animal Shelter, and some Vet Clinics are available to provide free or low cost spay & neuter services for dogs and cats.
Cat & Dog Pregnancy Facts
Unintended pregnancies happen easily and often, cats and dogs can get pregnant as young 5 months, even from members of their own litter.
Inbreeding or not knowing the genetic background of the parents can result in serious health and behavioral problems such as missing limbs or other deformities and aggression.
Mother cats and dogs can become impregnated again soon after giving birth, even if still nursing a litter.
Short times between repeated pregnancies are detrimental to the health of the mother and can seriously affect the health of her babies.
Whole litters and pregnant pets are often brought to animal shelters.
Animal shelters need of foster homes for pregnant or nursing cats and dogs, as well as other pets.
Sources & Resources
Free or Low Cost Spay or Neuter Resources for the DC Metro Area
Some of the Other DC, MD, VA Shelters Offering Services or Assistance
Free or Low Cost Spay or Neuter Resources for Everyone