Should adoption fees help pay for low (or no) cost spay and neuter? That's what's happening in Oklahoma City, where a new ordinance places half of the city's adoption fees into spay/neuter/public outreach fund.
The city will begin to offer free surgery to spay and neuter dogs and cats belonging to those who can prove their residency. It also will pay for a new employee to manage the program and get involved with community organizations to help publicize it.
The city paid for sterilization for about 7,000 dogs and cats in its own shelter in the last fiscal year, and should be able to sterilize about 3,000 more pets with the new money, English said. Officials hope the results will pay off in more ways than one by putting a dent in pet overpopulation.
3,000 pets is a pretty big deal, but just as important is the education and community outreach. Making this positive -- a chance for pet owners to catch a financial break as well as gain a sense of community involvement -- is a smart touch, especially when considering today's economic situation and the plethora of punitive animal laws on the books (we're pretty sure the origins of the phrase "You'll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" stem from the unintended consequences of some paleolithic mandatory spay/neuter law).
This is a simple program, one that is typically handled by licensing differentials (i.e. an incentive to spay/neuter by offering licenses at a lower cost), but without the outreach and education aspects. In the licensing form, it has proved effective in many areas; utilizing adoption fees to the same effect is a different wrinkle, however, and one worth keeping an eye on.