COVID-19: Suspending Spay/Neuter Surgeries TEMPORARILY

Written by Josh Fisher

April 1, 2020

For years all of us in the Animal Welfare field have fought to gain traction and support for spay/neuter services in its varying iterations, most especially pre-adoption sterilization performed by our agencies or community partners to assist in the reduction of pet overpopulation and unintended breeding.  Now amidst the rest of the chaos that has come from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are being asked and asking our agencies and partners to stop this essential service in an effort to conserve medical supplies.

Who would have ever thought that we as Animal Welfare Professionals would ever be the voices saying, “No, we will be adopting and otherwise placing animals without sterilizing them first, and that is okay?”  Yet here we are.

It is imperative during this time to understand the “Why” behind this decision, and that why looks a bit different for every community but has a shared theme.

While we as Animal Welfare professionals still consider pre-adoption sterilization an essential service, we are beyond that terminology now in the COVID-19 pandemic.  We have reached a point at which we should be conserving supplies for the treatment of human victims of the pandemic and other life-threatening conditions and animals in need of surgical intervention due to life-threatening conditions.

Emergency Life-Threatening Conditions are a reality of everyday life for people and pets, and in veterinary healthcare can include a variety of conditions such as:

  • A pet being hit by a car
  • Laceration requiring surgical intervention
  • Gastric Foreign body removal
  • Gastric Dilation & Volvulus (GDV)
  • Hemoabdomen
  • Pyometra (which will result in the female being spayed)
  • C-Section
  • And many more

It is vital that when discussing this change with our staff, volunteers, communities, and stakeholders, we include the following information:

  • This is a TEMPORARY change dictated by a national emergency, NOT a philosophical change regarding the essential nature of spay/neuter services under normal operating conditions
  • Inability to sterilize pet’s pre-adoption is NOT and CANNOT BE justification for unnecessary euthanasia
  • This is larger than Animal Welfare and our missions, we are in a state of national emergency and must think in broader terms of public health and safety.
  • This is a marathon, not a sprint, and it is imperative that we continue to focus on the fact that We are ALL in this Together!

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NACA Statement on Officer Safety

In this challenging time, we are deeply concerned for the safety of animal control officers around the nation, who continue their work of saving lives and protecting pets and people. Despite the varying situations happening in many of our cities, we want you to know we are with you and thinking of you during this troubling time. We are here for you. Please be safe out there!


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