With the rise in foreclosures and joblessness, pet abandonment has become ever more widespread as more and more cats and dogs are surrendered to shelters in New Jersey and across the nation. Last year, over 32,000 cats and dogs were killed in New Jersey shelters. Every day, thousands of abandoned and lost pets suffer and die on New Jersey streets. You can help prevent pet overpopulation and the suffering that comes with it by making sure your pets are spayed or neutered.
Spaying or neutering your pets (or feral cats) is the most important thing you can do for their health, along with making sure they are vaccinated for rabies. Fixed pets are healthier, happier, and better behaved. There are a number of programs that are making spay/neuter services more affordable and accessible than ever. Following is some information to help you find an affordable spay/neuter service near you.
NJ Department of Health & Senior Services Pet Overpopulation Control Fund
By checking off a box on the NJ Income Tax Options, many people contribute to “The Cat and Dog Spay/Neuter Fund.” With this fund, the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services Animal Population Control Program contracts with veterinary hospitals to provide sterilization for cats and dogs for either $10 or $20. You may be eligible to have your pet fixed for $10 if you are a New Jersey resident and receive any of the following public assistance benefits:
General Public Assistance
Aid to Families with Dependent Children
Lifeline Utility Credit
Tenants Lifeline Assistance
Supplemental Security Income
Pharmaceutical Assistances to Aged and Disabled
New Jersey residents who are not on public assistance but have adopted their dog or cat from an eligible, licensed NJ animal shelter, pound, or rescue group may be eligible to have their pet fixed for $20.
You will have to check with participating vets and facilities to see if they still have funds left for the year, and you may be required to show a public assistance ID card or other documentation provided to you by an eligible shelter or rescue to take advantage of these prices. Low Cost Spaying/Neutering Program (from the The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services) has more information. The site also lists participating facilities and veterinarians.
Other Affordable Spaying and Neutering Facilities for Pets
SpayNJ provides information about affordable spay/neuter services on their website. You may also call them at 1-877-SPAY-NJ1. Many people in central to northern New Jersey take advantage of the affordable services offered by People for Animals in Hillside. You can make an appointment with them by phone at 973-282-0890. People for Animals will soon be opening a clinic in Robbinsville, New Jersey, making their affordable services available to people in southern-central and southern New Jersey.
Your local animal shelter may also have information on or provide low-cost spay/neuter services in your area. Friends of Animals issues certificates for low-cost spay/neuter that are also accepted by many veterinarians. Please see the Friends of Animals website and enter your zip code to find a participating vet in your area.
Remember to check your local newspaper, pet stores, or the websites and Facebook pages of animal rescues in your area. Many rescues, often in combination with a local shelter, will sponsor mobile spay/neuter clinics a few times a year, including Spay Day, which takes place on the last Tuesday in February. The Animal Welfare League Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinic travels to the City of Camden to spay and neuter animals for Camden residents, and rescues and shelters often invite this van in for special spay/neuter events in other areas.
People for Animals operates the Neuter Scooter, which picks up animals at local shelters or pet stores in the central and northern New Jersey area to take them to the clinic for sterilization and returns them when they have recovered from surgery. Programs like the Neuter Scooter make it convenient for people who find it difficult to take off work to get their pets fixed by offering transportation at convenient hours and sterilization at affordable prices. Check online to see if a town near you has a Neuter Scooter or Neuter Commuter that could make it convenient and affordable for you to get your pet fixed. Finally, rescues and clinics will from time to time provide sterilization at greatly reduced rates on special occasions like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. Look around: There are more affordable services now than ever before.
Affordable Spaying and Neutering Clinics for Feral and Free-Roaming Cats
Many compassionate people in New Jersey feed free-roaming and feral cats. Only a small percentage of these cats have been fixed, which is causing a crisis for people and cats alike in all our towns and cities. You can be part of the solution to reducing the feral cat overpopulation by fixing any stray cats that you may be feeding. There may even be financial help available to fix free-roaming and feral cats in certain areas, so it may cost you very little. Some people just want these cats taken away, so they bring them to shelters or call animal control to trap feral cats and kittens. Unfortunately, feral cats are not adoptable because they do not make good pets. So when a feral cat or kitten is brought into a shelter, it is killed after the required seven-day hold. If you would like more information about the care and protection of feral cats, please see Project TNR of the Animal Protection League of NJ, the NJ Resource for Feral Cat and Trap-Neuter Return (TNR) information, and Alley Cat Allies.
Affordable feral cat-friendly services are available at a number of clinics in New Jersey and in Pennsylvania. For a list of feral-friendly practices, call 1-877-SPAY-NJ1 or visit Feral Cat Friendly Practices In New Jersey (fromSpayNJ website). See also People for Animals. If you live near Pennsylvania, you might also want to look at the services offered by Forgotten Cats in Willow Grove.
Be Responsible—It’s the Law!
As a responsible pet owner, you must make sure you are complying with local laws about pet ownership. If you don’t comply with these laws, you may be fined or have your pet taken away. NJ state and local laws require dog licensing and rabies vaccinations. Some towns also have a licensing requirement for cats. Towns with TNR ordinances often restrict who may feed stray cats; others prohibit the feeding of stray cats entirely. More and more towns are adopting anti-chaining laws for dogs and anti-roaming laws that apply to dogs and free-roaming cats. Check with your local authorizes and make sure you understand what your town requires.
As a public health service, many towns offer free rabies clinics. These free clinics can save you money, so check with your local health department to find out when and where you can have your dog or cat vaccinated for free. Some pet stores also offer reduced-price vaccinations, in addition to micro-chipping.
Be Part of the Solution to Pet Overpopulation
We all have a responsibility to care for animals. You can help reduce the number of cats and dogs that are killed in shelters or that live difficult and often sad lives on the street by spaying and neutering your pet, or by adopting your next pet from a shelter or a rescue. Shelters and rescues have many loving and wonderful animals waiting for a forever home. In fact, with more owners surrendering their pets at shelters in this difficult economy, it is becoming more common to find even pure-bred dogs and cats in shelters. And while you are at the shelter looking for a pet, don’t forget those senior pets that have been left behind by a deceased owner or surrendered because of a family illness. These mellow animals often make the most devoted pets when they get their second chance at love and happiness. It is a lot cheaper to adopt from a shelter or rescue than to purchase one from a pet store, and the adoption fee that you give to a shelter or rescue makes it possible for that group to help more animals. You can also be proud of the fact that you are saving lives and that you are not contributing to unscrupulous puppy or kitten mills or backyard breeders. Finally, remember a motto adopted by many rescues: “To the world you are just one person, but to a rescued pet you are the world.”