New Mexico's Pet ResourceSPRING 2003

NEUTERESS OF THE NIGHT

by Nancy Marano

Picture yourself driving down the road behind a car with a professional decal on the back window reading: "We will no longer kill your mistakes and the casualties of your irresponsibility. NEUTER YOUR PETS!" The license plate reads: "NOKILL" and it's framed in a holder saying: "Oppose the death penalty, neuter your pets." Just to reinforce the message, the decal on the front window reads "We Be Neutered."

What would your response be? 1. "Who’d mess up their car like that?" 2. "Now, that person is obsessed!" or 3. "I get it!"

My bet is you'd think all of these things - and probably a few more, too--but chances are you'd remember the car. You might even stop to ask the driver why she has all those slogans on her car. If you do, you'll meet Kat Chaplin, a.k.a. Neuteress of the Night, a crusader for spay/neuter promotion and education.

"I use humor because it works. The slogans are icebreakers; the education still needs to take place. All I'm doing is marketing, advertising spay/neuter the way it should be advertised if we expect the public to be aware and sterilize their pets."

Kat is president of Ahimsa of Texas, Inc., a small group of individuals dedicated to spay/neuter education and subsidy. The Roanoke, TX non-profit promotes its message through humor. Over 250 humorous spay/neuter slogans are available free as part of their Humor Us, Neuter Us Campaign. The Ahimsa of Texas van, which is available to local non-profits for educational purposes, is a rolling spay/neuter message board. They've even sponsored "The Lean Mean Neutering Machine" driven by Smiley's Texas Dirt Track Sport Racing Team.

"There are hundreds of drivers and passengers who see my car every day. I can't help but think that at least a few of them will be reminded, 'Oh, yeah, I'd better get Rover fixed fast before he rips out the screen door again!' For the pet-kill crisis to end, it's imperative that we advertise spay and neuter just as a company would advertise toilet paper. We must, after all, SELL spay and neuter," Kat says.

The Neuteress generously shares her ideas with groups on how to get out the spay and neuter message to anyone who will listen.

1. Make sure there are low-cost spay and neuter facilities in your community that you can suggest to people.

2. Put decals and slogans on your car or truck so that it's a continual reminder to people. "It doesn't' have to be as 'extreme' as mine," Kat says, "but the more professional you make it look the more people are going to pay attention."

3. Get the media involved. "Don't let them do the usual shot of a cat in a cage and say, 'our shelter is full.' We need to compete with the 'shock factor' that is present in TV programming. What if one of the anchors or the weather person has a different pro-spay/neuter message every night?" Kat said. "You have to grab people's attention quickly and humor works."

4. Put something on your car. "A spay/neuter license plate frame helps. If you can't think of something, check out Meowsville.com, which features products that will help," Kat adds.

5. Use "Ice Breakers." Kat suggests:

a. Get a child's kitty or puppy backpack. When someone says, "How cute," you reply, "Yes, and it's fixed."

b. Make sure that when you introduce yourself, you always add, "I do a lot of humane spay/neuter work."

c. Include spay and neuter in word or image on every promotional item your organization puts out. It's important that the public associate your group's name with spay and neuter.

6. "Leave bookmarks with spay and neuter messages on them in library books when you return them," Kat says.

7. "Ask animal friendly merchants and veterinarians if they'll put a bowl of candy on the counter," Kat says. "The sign on the bowl might read either Life Savers Neuter! or Smarties Neuter, Dummies Don't!"

8. For those adventurous souls, Kat suggests, "Leave Rover's Rubbers and Cat Condoms (products Ahimsa of Texas sells) in restrooms and the condom department at the drug store. Let the pharmacist or manager in on what you're doing."

9. "Buy a sunscreen for your car and customize it. Letter the sunscreen if you don't want to letter your car," Kat says.

These are just a few ways to broach the subject of spay and neuter with people who haven't thought about it yet. Now that your creativity is racing, you and your group probably will think of many more ways to spread the message.

Kat cautions, "Everyone who hasn't neutered their pet isn't a creep, stupid, or anti-spay and neuter. People are pretty oblivious. Using humor allows you to approach a person without making the person feel as if you are on the attack."

Kat is often the center of attention because of the slogans on her car and her clothing. She puts up with all the attention because, "I keep seeing these kitten and puppy faces, the nursing mothers, the strays' eyes…and I realize this isn't about ME. It's about the animals. And the sooner we put our vanity aside and get down to the real work, the sooner we'll stop killing animals."

Check out Kat's slogans, products, and other information on the following websites:
www.ahimsatx.org
www.ahimsatx.org/nnl.humorous.htm (Spay & neuter slogans)
www.meowsville.com

A sampling of Kat's slogans:
Take the "Eu" out of Euthanasia, neuter your pets.
Friends don't let their friends have litters.
One CAN have too many cats, just ask the shelter.
Altering our community, one pet at a time.
Neuter and there's no more tom cat PU4U!


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