Statistics Following 46 Montana Spay/Neuter Task Force Visits To Montana Communities
There is a great deal of evidence that spay and neuter programs within shelters have the potential to create significant change in local communities. This study takes a look at a broader scope – examining the results of mobile spay and neuter projects across 46 communities in Montana, and specifically examines how sterilization programs impact the number of animals impounded or euthanized. The research finds that spay and neuter “events” (where mobile clinics are set up in communities by a spay and neuter “task force”) can have a major impact on local communities, depending of course on when and how they’re done.
This study gathered statistics from 46 Montana Spay/Neuter Task Force mobile clinics that visited communities throughout Montana over seven years preceding 2004. The findings reveal that these mobile clinics can have a major impact on those communities. In urban areas, providing mobile, accessible spay and neuter services resulted in an immediate drop of 19% of animals impounded, and a 24% drop of animals euthanized, while dog bites decreased by 33%. For more compact areas such as “Native American Nations,” the impact was even greater. The effect of the decrease was most apparent about 6 months after the spay/neuter event, and “in almost all instances, there is a steady drop in animals impounded or destroyed for one to two years after the spay/neuter event.” The statistics were gathered year round, but because in Montana “most animals are impounded from May to October,” stats were corrected for seasonal variations. In any case, the impact of these events was measurable, and immediate.
Importantly, the researchers noted that many communities issue spay and neuter certificates (which can be used to obtain low-cost spay or neuter procedures), and some communities issue them “aggressively.” The study found, however, that “there was little or no evidence for the positive impact of these certificates. Increasing the number of certificates lead to an increase in animals impounded for that year almost as often as decreasing the certificates.” Instead, they found that mobile spay and neuter events were a much more effective alternative. The researchers describe the events as follows: “Each Task Force visit helped a community bring together its resources to create a pet care event, the centerpiece of which was a free, demonstration spay/neuter clinic, to help solve a community problem, and, in doing so, own the solution. The Task Force brought a small van carrying supplies and equipment to set up in an existing building a spay/neuter clinic with from 2 to 6 or more surgery tables.” These types of events yielded fantastic results, and researchers found that “the cost effectiveness of one large-scale clinic on the operation of a shelter, the cost of impounding, caring for, and destroying animals, was shown to be between $104,000 and $147,000. Large clinics followed by three or four visits seem to be much more effective than the issuance of spay/neuter certificates or occasional surgeries.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the researchers note that “the larger the size of the spay/neuter event, the longer the event, or the smaller and more compact the community, the greater was the likelihood for change.” For advocates, this research presents useful findings. If advocates are able to work with local veterinarians and shelters to organize and provide the resources to conduct mobile spay and neuter “events,” it would have an important positive impact on companion animal overpopulation and euthanasia rates. Though the the study doesn’t describe the prevalence of such programs outside of Montana, the effectiveness of the Montana program is clear.
In gathering the statistics (where records are kept) from the Montana Spay/Neuter Task Force visits to communities throughout Montana over the past seven years, we have arrived at a number of conclusions. In every instance, the spay/neuter event has had a major impact on those communities in which statistics were available. In larger urban areas, the immediate impact is about a 19% drop in animals impounded and about a 24% drop in animals destroyed. Dog bites decreased by 33%. In almost every case, the impact on animals destroyed is greater than for animals impounded.