WHY SPAYING AND NEUTERING IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT TO DUO DUO PROJECT
A crude fact: a more plentiful supply of dogs and cats means a greater supply for the illegal dog and cat meat slaughterhouses in China.
Some would say it boils down to somewhat of an economic quandary: basic supply and demand.
This is why Duo Duo Project is gearing up to launch a first-of-its-kind spay and neuter program in China. It’s goal? To decrease the overall population of stray dogs and cats which will in turn decrease the supply for the dog and cat meat trade.
In order to spearhead this effort, Duo Duo Project looks to the successful spay and neuter programs in the U.S. as a model. Here’s why:
HISTORY OF SPAY AND NEUTER IN THE U.S.
Beginning in the 1970s, there was a shift in the human to animal relationship such that many people began to accept animals, particularly cats and dogs, as pets, or ‘companion’ animals. This period also coincided with the beginning of an increased expenditure on pet care, veterinary fees, and animal registration fees.
It was also during this time that the first municipal programs for neutering, or ‘spay and neuter’, were launched in the U.S., the first of which was in Los Angeles, California.
In a 1973 survey of animal shelters, the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) estimated that approximately 13.5 million cats and dogs were euthanized in U.S. shelters nationwide. This equated to 20% of the owned dog and cat population at that time.[i]
Also, over 90% of the animals arriving at shelters and municipal pounds were euthanized after caring for them for the required number of days, and this consumed the budgets of many animal shelters and humane societies such that sterilization programs were not common due to cost.[ii]
In an effort to tackle the nationwide problem of pet overpopulation, the three major national groups (The Hume Society of the United States, the American Humane Association, and the National Animal Control Association) addressing animal sheltering at the time advocated for more responsible pet ownership.
The consensus was that this should form a three-pronged approach – Education, Research, and Policy.
There were 3 main goals for education around spaying and neutering:
building awareness about dog and cat overpopulation through public campaigns
educating new pet owners about the importance of pet sterilization
providing curricula at veterinary medical schools discussing trends that lead to pet relinquishment at shelters and rescues, such as pet behavioral problems and lack of access to affordable veterinary care.
A 2009 Ad Council campaign to promote the adoption of shelter animals, featuring personal stories that highlight the bond between celebrities, athletes, and their pets, as well as everyday people and their pets, has been deemed to be highly successful, and the campaign continues through 2021.[iii]
An emphasis was placed on two types of research: 1) surgical and non-surgical methods of sterilization, and 2) defining and quantifying the dog and cat overpopulation problem.
Historically, while there had been many attempts to document and report shelter statistics, there was a need to develop a standardized system for data collection and reporting on a national basis.
One of the leading programs in this field is the Shelter Animals Count, whose mission is to create and share the National Database of sheltered animal statistics, providing facts and enabling insights that will save lives.[iv]
A multi-pronged approach was rolled out to:
implement state and local government legislation in such areas as breeder licensing
provide sufficient funding for animal control agencies and municipal shelters
require pet owner licensing and rabies
As of 2019, 32 states have mandatory sterilization laws which require the sterilization of animals adopted from shelters and pounds, with some programs having fines and community service for failure to comply.[v]
Differentiated dog licensing, where owners of unsterilized dogs pay a higher license fee, has also been introduced by many state and local animal licensing authorities. A report by HSUS showed that, from 1980 to 1985, those communities that imposed differential licensing fees showed a 12% decline in intake into shelters in those communities.[vi]
WHY SPAY AND NEUTER PROGRAMS IN THE U.S. HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL
The rate of euthanasia in U.S. shelters has dropped ten-fold since 1970, and this has been attributed, in part, to the reduced intake into shelters, which directly correlates to the reduced population of cats and dogs due to sterilization.[vii]
Another major contributor to the reduced euthanasia rate is the increase in adoptions from shelters which continues in an upward trend into the foreseeable future.
If the history of spay and neuter in the U.S. in the last 50 years alone is any indication of how China might follow suit, it may be plausible to imagine an eradicated illegal dog and cat meat trade in the near future.
Here’s to hoping it’s sooner, much sooner, rather than later.
If you’d like to support Duo Duo’s mission to spearhead a first-of-its-kind spay and neuter program in China to help end the illegal dog and cat meat trade, please consider donating. Every dollar helps.