Pittsburgh City Council President Darlene Harris has introduced legislation that would provide free spay and neutering for any dog or cat owned by a city resident. Over the last three years, Harris has been able to set aside $170,000 in capital improvement money and animal care and control funds to bankroll the effort. She says spaying or neutering one animal can result in 55 dogs or cats not being born.
City residents will be able to begin applying for the service March 1st. There is a limit of 5 per household, which is also the limit on the number of animals allowed by city code in one home. Harris says she expects there to be a waiting list that will be handled on a first-come-first-served basis. She contends the money will eventually turn into a cost savings for the city when the population of stray dogs and cats falls. She say it costs the city $197.00 every time it has to pickup a stray dog or cat. “It took time to get like this without a spay or neutering program but this is the only way, 100 percent, to be able to stop these unwanted births,” says Harris.
By way of example, Harris tells of a feral cat colony on the Northside where animal control collected and then spayed and neutered more than 70 cats. She says the workers realized that the stray cats all resembled a pet cat that lived in the neighborhood. The animal care and control crews were able to convince the owner of that pet to have that cat neutered. She says that helped to greatly control the neighborhoods cat problem.
The city has negotiated deals with area vets and groups such as Animal Friends to do the work for less than they would normally charge. Harris hopes to be able to spay or neuter 3,925 dogs or cats through the program this year. She says she will look for a way to continue to fund the spay and neuter program in the 2012 budget.
Applications to have a pet spayed or neutered will be available on the city’s web page. Harris says they are still looking for more veterinarians to help perform the work.