Spring 2011 Magazine


By Nancy Marano



Making these slogans reality isn't a secret and it isn't too difficult. All it takes is everyone being responsible for spaying or neutering their companion animal and making sure everyone they know does the same.

Think how exciting it would be if all the animals in shelters were adopted because there would be enough homes for all of them. Pet overpopulation, which is epidemic in New Mexico, would end. This is not just a dream. It is a definite possibility which is a step closer to reality with the founding of SPAYNM.ORG.

SPAYNM.ORG is a new service of Animal Humane New Mexico (AHANM). It is a clearinghouse to help people locate spay and neuter resources close to them. SPAYNM.ORG started on January 31 and had 10 calls the first day.

Using the site is easy. Go to www.spaynm.org. Click "Find a Clinic" on the toolbar. A New Mexico map will appear on your computer screen. You can either click on the county you live in or click on the drop down screen following "County" and select your county from the list. For example: Put in "Taos" and click "Go." You will get a screen that gives spay and neuter services in Taos County. It will list Four Corners Animal League, St. Anthony Convent Spay/Neuter Event, Picuris Pueblo Tribal Administration and Stray Hearts Animal Shelter of Taos, dba Humane Society of Taos. Each listing gives the services offered, the fees and how to contact the providers.

If you don't have a computer available or would rather talk to a person, you can dial toll-free 1-855-SPAYNMX (772-9669). This direct line gets you to a person who will be able to answer your questions about spay/neuter services in your area or any other questions you have about spay/neuter.

If you know of a spay/neuter service that isn't listed on the SPAYNM.ORG site, there is a number for you to call. Your resource will be added to those already listed. This service will help people best by being as complete as possible.

Kim Snitker, Project Director for SPAYNM.ORG, has worked on spay/neuter issues in New Mexico for many years. She is the former proprietor of Three Dog Bakery and was on the board of No More Homeless Pets. "New Mexico is a leader in pet overpopulation. This is due in part to the economics of the state and its rural nature. But it is also due to a lack of education about spay/neuter and why it is important," she said.

Animal Humane New Mexico wanted to take on a greater role in facilitating spay and neuter services not only in Albuquerque but statewide. SPAYNM.ORG is a result of this determination. They received a grant from Marian's Dream to establish a toll-free phone number for SPAYNM.ORG and to create a website.

SPANM.ORG coordinates the clearinghouse and does outreach through the schools, libraries and other venues to acquaint people with the program and the need for spaying and neutering companion animals. AHANM will perform the actual spay and neuter surgeries. These surgeries will be in conjunction with surgeries done by the Albuquerque city shelters and the surgeries facilitated by rescue groups. "Right now, AHANM is in the position to see a program like this established and developed," Snitker said.

As the program progresses it is hoped that it will be possible to facilitate more spay and neuter surgeries in rural areas by using transport systems for animals needing to be neutered or by bringing resources into an area to do the surgeries. This could be done through local coordinators working with SPAYNM.ORG and AHANM.

Attempts to solve this problem have been made before. Why is this different?

"The animal groups in the area have been very responsive. Everybody is at the point of knowing this has to happen. We can't solve pet overpopulation individually. We are building a foundation to end the problem," said Snitker. "I think we can definitely get to the point in Albuquerque where pet overpopulation will be controlled. We'll see how long it takes in the state."

Snitker believes people can help spay and neuter efforts best by becoming advocates for the cause. "Let's FIX It" should be a phrase on everyone's lips.

You can help the effort to end pet overpopulation by doing the following things.

1. Spay and neuter your own dog or cat
2. Beat the heat
Female dogs and cats can have their first heat and get pregnant as young as five months old. Veterinarians agree you can spay or neuter your companion animal safely as young as two months of age.
3. Keep your pets for life
Your pet needs you to make a commitment for life just as you would with a child. Animals are not disposable!
4. Be an advocate for pet adoption
Reasons to adopt a pet:
You'll save a life. Adopting will help two animals - the one you adopt and the homeless animal who will find a space at the shelter or rescue group.
You'll get a healthy pet. Shelters and rescue groups vaccinate and spay or neuter animals before adopting them. Dogs are screened for temperament and behaviors to insure a happy result.
You'll save money. Getting an animal through a shelter or rescue group is cheaper than buying from a breeder or other source. Usually animals come spayed or neutered and vaccinated which makes them a real bargain.
You'll feel better. Not only do animals give you unconditional love but they are known to be psychologically, emotionally and physically beneficial.
You won't be supporting puppy mills and backyard breeders.
5. Educate yourself and speak out
Talking points:

  • Four million healthy dogs and cats are killed every year in the United States because there are not enough homes for them. Many of these animals are the offspring of cherished family pets
  • Spay and neuter is a way of ensuring that pet overpopulation ends.
  • Spay or neuter creates a healthier animal. Spayed females are less likely to develop mammary tumors, uterine infections and cancer. Neutering males helps inhibit territorial-linked behaviors such as urine-marking and fighting. Neutering also protects them from various diseases such as certain cancers.

Over $2 billion dollars is spent by local governments to shelter and often euthanize animals every year because there aren't enough homes.

"We are building a foundation to end pet overpopulation. Everything we do is aimed at this result," Snitker said. "The numbers will tell us whether the program is a success. If it is, adoptions will go up and euthanasias will go down."

It is up to all of us to help end pet overpopulation. As Snitker said, "We've created this problem by being irresponsible to our pets. We have to correct the problem now."

For further information on the program or to learn where spay and neuter locations are call 1-855-SPAYNMX, go to www.spaynm.org or email: kims@animalhumanenm.org.

Nancy Marano is an award-winning writer who is owned by a cat named Sammy. She is a member of the Cat Writers' Association and Dog Writers of America. Currently she is waiting to see who the new cat or cats in her life will be.

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