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Spay Day

Mindy Norton

Gypsy is a T-N-R cat.  She was trapped as an community cat, spayed and released.  You can see that her left ear has been "tipped" - the tip was surgically removed when she was spayed so that anyone finding her would know the surgery had already been done.  It turned out that she was not a feral cat but a stray that (we believe) had at one time had a home and an owner.  She has learned to trust humans and enjoys the company!


According to the ASPCA, approximately 1.5 million dogs and cats are euthanized by animal shelters in this country every year. That’s more than four thousand animals a day - and that’s a problem, especially for the animals that are losing their lives just because there are too many of them and not enough homes.

But there is an alternative – spaying female pets and neutering males. It is the guaranteed way to ensure that fewer puppies and kittens are born. That’s also the idea behind Trap-Neuter-Return programs, referred to as “T-N-R”.

Outdoor (or feral) animals are humanely trapped, taken to a clinic, spayed or neutered, given a rabies vaccine and returned to the area where they were found.

Both dogs and cats tend to be territorial. If they are just removed from their outdoor home and euthanized, other dogs or cats move in to take advantage of the available food and shelter in that area. By returning the animals to the place they were found, they still tend to be territorial, so other animals do not move in. But the spayed and neutered animals are better neighbors, without so much fighting between males and no more litters from females. T-N-R works to reduce pet populations in a community.

One organization in Virginia, Homeward Trails, has been very successful at finding owners for shelter pets, but their new project is taking them to Puerto Rico. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria there, many residents left the island but had to leave their pets behind. The number of animals is increasing exponentially with many fewer caregivers to look after them. Homeward Trails is planning a week-long trip to Puerto Rico in May to focus on Trap-Neuter-Return for dogs and cats there. You can learn more about their efforts on their website,

World Spay Day is February 26th, the perfect reminder to call your veterinarian and make an appointment to have your own pet spayed or neutered. It will benefit your community, and it could help your best friend to live a longer and healthier life, when you’re speaking of pets.


Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.
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