2020 was quite a year. Mostly labeled in terrible ways when the pandemic sparked a global health crisis and changed the way we lived.
But there was at least one silver lining: Americans adopted or cared for shelter animals in record numbers. Because so many people worked from home, they felt like they had the time to devote to a new pet, or to look after an animal temporarily.
Adopting a new pet – especially an animal shelter – is a caring decision. It’s also a financial decision, as the cost of first-time care for a dog or cat can add up quickly.
One of the most expensive initial procedures your pet will need is either being neutered or neutered. Fortunately, money doesn’t always have to be a major barrier when it comes to getting that early veterinary care. If you know where to look, there are a variety of free or low-cost spay / neuter programs across the country.
Should my pet be neutered or neutered?
Yes! Spaying or neutering your pet will decrease the overall pet population. This is helping to alleviate the pervasive problem of pet homelessness in the United States.
While the surge in the care and adoption of shelter animals has been an exciting trend over the past year, it doesn’t alone solve the pet overpopulation problem.
In 2020, puppy mills also went hyperdrive, increasing pet overpopulation and negating some of the advances in the fight against pet homelessness. Overpopulation continues to be a problem that can be addressed directly by neutering or neutering your pets.
This can also bring health benefits to your pet. Neutering a female cat or dog can help them avoid uterine infections and breast cancer, while neutering a male cat or dog can reduce the chance of developing testicular cancer.
There are few cases when spaying or neutering is not the best choice for pets. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, you should always spay or neuter your cats. However, there are certain breeds of dogs that can have adverse health effects when neutered or neutered depending on their gender or age. If you have a dog, you are mistaken on the neutering or neutering side. But also contact your veterinarian.
Do I qualify for free spay and neutral services?
The most important thing about being a pet parent: it can get expensive quickly.
Fortunately, there are many free spay / neuter programs around the country. Some programs qualify you based on where you live. Others have an additional income requirement. Whether or not you qualify for free spay and neutral services depends on the particular program.
If you don’t qualify for a free program, you can likely find discount spay / neuter services near you
How to Find Free Spay / Neuter Programs
Free spay / neuter programs are usually run by local government agencies. Look for these programs at the state, county, and local levels.
Because spay / neuter programs are so hyper-local, they’re as diverse as kaleidoscopes. Some programs will come with income requirements. Some won’t. In some states, spay and neuter services are free in and of themselves, but you still owe the veterinarian or shelter a fee in the form of administrative fees. Other times, go away without spending a dime to spay or neuter your pet.
The following list contains a variety of programs but is not an exhaustive list. Search your own state, state, and local services to find out what’s on offer in your area. You might be surprised at what is available to you.
State-level spay and neuter programs
Many states run a free spay / neuter program. It can be operated directly by a government agency or by a government-designated community organization.
For example, Oklahoma state law has reserved a fund specifically for its pet overpopulation program. However, you will not be in contact with the state of Oklahoma. Instead, apply to the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA).
This particular spay / neuter program has income restrictions. For the Oklahoma state program in particular, you must already be enrolled in one of these income-related programs to qualify:
- SNAP / grocery stamps
- Social security benefits
Your government program may or may not be limited to low-income households. Oklahoma is an example, but not necessarily the rule.
District level spay and neuter programs
In some states, you can find free county-level spay / neuter programs. In North Carolina, state funds are typically distributed this way.
However, the North Carolina program only covers direct medical costs for low-income residents. Still, if the shelter charges an administration fee, you could still spend some money. However, the fee you pay should pale in comparison to the cost of the actual spay / neuter procedure.
In our Richmond County example, even if you qualify for the program on a low income, the county animal shelter charges a fee of $ 49. Presumably this covers the administrative costs and the fact that the state does not always repay the accommodations for 100% of every operation.
City-level spay and neuter programs
If you’ve already looked at the state and county levels, now is the time to search your city or town for a free spay or neuter program.
So far we’ve seen programs with fairly strict income requirements. However, if we look to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, we find an example of a spay / neuter program open to all residents, even if you are not a low-income household.
All you need to do to qualify for the Pittsburgh Free Spay / Neuter Program is live within the city limits. There are additional licensing and vaccination requirements for dogs, but you will not be asked about your income for eligibility reasons.
How to find inexpensive spay / neutral services
If your income is preventing you from qualifying for your state, county, or city’s free spay or neuter program, contact other low-cost spay / neuter surgery providers in your area. These providers often partner with an animal-centric nonprofit that provides funding for these low-cost Spay / Neutral services.
If you live in a state like North Carolina where you still have to pay some fees with the “free” program, you should also turn to low cost spay / neutral services. In a minority of cases, fees required for the nonprofit program may cost less than fees for the local government sponsored program.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) provides low-cost spay / neutral services in a handful of cities across the country. These services can be performed in a traditional spay / neuter clinic. However, in some cities they are also available via a mobile, inexpensive spay / neuter truck that takes turns visiting neighborhoods.
The ASPCA currently offers inexpensive spay / neutral services in the following areas:
You must also make your appointment in advance for the mobile spay / neuter clinic.
The ASPCA has also partnered with PetSmart Charities to create a registry of low-cost spay / neuter clinics in the US that covers an area far larger than the three cities where the ASPCA has low-cost spay / neuter -Clinics operates.
PetSmart Charities donates to each low-cost clinic so they can continue their work in communities across the country.
North Shore Animal League America
The North Shore Animal League America operates a nationwide referral service for low-cost spay / neutral services called SpayUSA. Most listings require you to get a wire transfer from SpayUSA by entering basic household information. Some of these low-cost spay / neuter programs are only available to low-income households for programs like Medicaid, SNAP, and Social Security.
Friends of animals
Friends of Animals works with veterinarians across the country to provide affordable spay / neutral services to American pet owners. First, you’ll need to pay a fee for a Friends of Animals spay / neuter certificate. These certificates cost:
- $ 61 to spay and neuter a tomcat
- $ 74 to castrate a male dog
- $ 85 to neuter a female cat
- $ 110 to castrate a bitch
As they work with vets across the country, make sure one of them is in your community before earning a certificate. Use the Friends of the Animals search tool to find the closest veterinary clinic that accepts these Spay / Neutral Service Certificates.
After you have your certificate and have identified the associated veterinary clinics in your community, you can call the clinic directly to schedule an appointment.
Alley Cat Allies
You might not have cats to worry about, but you do have some neighborhood cats. Alley Cat Allies runs a program called Feral Friends, which uses trapping and release measures to spay and neuter wild cats. Here you can ask a specialist to contact you.
You can also reach out to other local cat rescue groups for similar spay or neutral services
Ask Shelter to help find an inexpensive clinic
Do you know who will really know your local inexpensive spay / neuter clinics well?
The local animal shelter.
Before you take your pet home, ask the shelter if they have any local free or low-cost spay / neuter programs. This often happens naturally, as most of the time you have to promise to spay or neuter your new pet as part of the adoption process.
What else is involved in spay / neuter clinics?
There are additional costs associated with adopting a pet, depending on state and local laws. Even if you don’t pay anything to neuter your cat or dog, fees may apply for these often mandatory services:
- Rabies vaccination
- Other vaccinations
- Licensing for dogs in certain cities and towns
If these upfront costs prevent you from adopting your next furry family member, speak to the shelter. While not as productive as free spay / neuter programs, you may be able to find ways to get local financial support for these services, especially if you come from a low-income household.
And if that help is available on-site, your animal shelter should know about it.
Brynne Conroy is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
This was originally posted on The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance website that empowers millions of readers across the country to make smart decisions with their money by providing actionable and inspiring advice and resources on making money, saving and managing money.