Programs To Reduce Overpopulation Of Companion Animals Analysis
Overpopulation of dogs and cats is a major problem which is being addressed by encouraging spay and neuter programs. This paper addresses the issue of whether or not aggressive spay & neuter programs are a benefit to the overall pet overpopulation program or if they are simply substitutes for increasing total community adoptions and spay and neuter levels. Analysis of Maddies Fund type of programs show that low cost spay/neuter program are more effective at raising overall community spay/neuter as opposed to simple substitution. There are three utility based reasons for controlling the pet overpopulation problem. First, would be to minimize welfare losses to humans resulting from direct causes such as dog bites, nuisance costs, etc. Second, would be to minimize the indirect welfare costs associated with loss of companionship. The third reason would be to minimize the direct suffering of the animals themselves.
This research study was designed to analyze the impact of spay/neuter programs. More specifically, it examined several Maddie’s Fund community programs, with 5 year grant periods, dividing datasets by species, by type of shelter (no-kill vs. Animal control), and by cost of spay/neuter (regular fee vs. subsidized). Analysis of the datasets seem to indicate that in offering a discounted spay/neuter program, there was an increase in the regular spay/neuters performed in a community, most likely due to related marketing influence. By marketing and promoting low-cost spay/neuter the community in general is exposed to these messages and consequently educated in the need, resulting in a positive externality for private veterinarians and the encouragement of private spay/neuter.
In addition, there can be resulting social positive reinforcement, otherwise known as a “bandwagon effect” where people will tend to follow a particular behavior once they see that it is the generally accepted social behavior or norm. Similar to low cost spay/neuter programs, adoption programs at no-kill/adoption organizations were not found to reduce animal adoptions through a substitution effect. In this case, there appeared to be a positive relationship, but this was more likely to be due to random chance. Any real positive relationship is again likely to be due to publicity and bandwagon effects. In conclusion, this study suggests that neither low cost spay/neuter programs nor aggressive no-kill adoption policies cause cannibalization or substitution effects, but if they occur, they are likely to be compensated by positive spillover effects in adoption and spay/neuter efforts.