My name is Val and I am the Programs Coordinator at Project Street Vet. Launched by Dr. Kwane Stewart, Project Street Vet is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity that provides free veterinary care, treatment, and non-judgmental support to the pets of people experiencing homelessness and/or housing vulnerability. Project Street Vet delivers support in three main ways: through monthly veterinary care clinics in high-need areas alongside community partners, through financial assistance for veterinary care, and most recognizably through "Street Vet Work," where Project Street Vet teams perform street outreach to meet people and pets where they are.
Project Street Vet wants to assist these pets and pet parents while decreasing pet overpopulation by assisting with more spay/neuter surgeries. We are asking the community if anyone has found a way to incentivize getting pets fixed that has been shown to be effective and successful if it isn't a requirement to receiving services. Thank you for your input!
What do you mean by "incentivize"? In our Pets for Life programs, we've seen that once they know the benefits and know that the surgery will be free, virtually everyone signs their pet up to be spay/neutered. We don't have problems getting people to want the surgery: the problem is finding enough veterinarian capacity!There are huge surgery backlogs all over the place.
------------------------------Maria SaucedoGIS AnalystPets for Life at HSUSBaltimore, MD------------------------------
#Medicine,SurgeryandSterilization------------------------------Val NassirPrograms CoordinatorProject Street Vet------------------------------
I head up an intake prevention 501(c)(3) in central AZ and we (a very small, all volunteer group) also have difficulty getting people interested in taking advantage of our spay-neuter assistance program. If an organization can afford to offer FREE services, then, yes, the demand is higher; however, in 10 years of doing this, we still struggle to get people on board when we (of financial necessity) require a small copay for service. I guess if an organization has a susbstantial manpower and funding that makes things a lot easier...but unfortunately, the vast majority of grass roots groups don't have those luxuries. We desperately need an organization that is well funded and supported (like the HSUS, Best Friends, ASPCA, etc) to come in and help us all to attack the animal overpopulation crisis in this state-as all of our little efforts, as much as they accomplish, will never be able to meaningfully address the animal issue as it currently exists.
------------------------------Maria SaucedoGIS AnalystPets for Life at HSUSBaltimore, MDOriginal Message:Sent: 06-06-2023 08:12 AMFrom: Val NassirSubject: Incentivizing Spay/Neuter
All of those groups ARE helping! At HSUS we support dozens of groups doing Pets for Life programs all over the country, including in Arizona. But we don't have unlimited funding or manpower either. We fight for every dollar just like you, we don't have money lying around to give out. The need is far higher than any of us can fix without more outside money coming in. It's a constant battle. And like I mentioned above, even with money and pets lining up for surgery, capacity is often unavailable because of the vet shortage.
Anyway, the point was that if people aren't signing up even for free or low cost surgery, there's a reason. Sometimes it's because they don't trust us yet, or they can't manage the logistics, they have worries or fears that aren't related to the surgery itself, etc.
We always wish we were in your service area!!
$775 is what a Sierra Vista/Bisbee vet just quoted us. It has become a weekly sport, to call and get timelines and quotes as the rates go up every month. I wish I was kidding...
There is a recurring theme of great spay/neuter programs in the cities, and then they are non-existent in the rural areas.
Then as a result, there are huge populations rising in rural zones and then all the demand is in the cities, so we are then bussing back the animals to the places that have solid spay/neuter programs in place.
It almost feels like it inadvertently creates this animal trafficking flow!
Pets for Life is the right partner -- they're doing fantastic work! Our local PfL director has a dedicated, branded van and can go an pick up pets from low-income neighborhoods to transport them to the free speuter appointment that she booked for their owners -- she makes it super easy, since one can't take dogs on a bus, and many of her clients don't have transportation. If the owner is unhoused, they coordinate on where she'll meet him with the dog the next day. It took her a little while to figure out that transportation was the hang-up for some folks who really wanted spay/neuter help, but by really listening to the people she was trying to help, she was able to figure it out -- and then find a solution.
Another "incentive" she uses is delivering bags of free, donated dog food to clientele -- the poorest, most vulnerable people in our community who often are food-insecure themselves. It's not an incentive for speuter so much as a way of doing outreach to help vulnerable populations and build trust. She sometimes brings sacks of basic groceries for humans too (she gets staples donated, or sometimes from our food bank, to drop off along with dog food for these most vulnerable folks). She's developed lots of trust in these neighborhoods by doing this -- people started looking for her to tell her about dogs that need help when they see her van because folks in these neighborhoods know and trust her.
------------------------------Maggie ThomasPresidentRed Stick German Shepherd RescueLA------------------------------
Have you tried offering a rabies vaccination or microchipping at no charge with the spay/neuter surgeries? Maybe that would give them an incentive.
I am ED of an affordable spay/neuter clinic and we also offer financial assistance with some grants we are able to offer free surgeries and sometimes vax under very certain requirements. That for the most part does get people to spay/neuter their pet but as was mentioned, the scheduling time frame of weeks or months out does hinder getting some people to schedule their surgery. And there are even those who are offered free or very minimal cost that do not show the day of the surgery. I think changing the mind set of people in understanding the importance of spaying and neutering and benefits for their pets and community is key. We also offer preventative wellness services and do not right now require that all pets are spay/neuter but my point of hesitancy is: will the requirement of s/n hinder us from helping those families that need us in keeping their pets healthy and prevent economic euthanasia or surrender to shelter. I do not know what the answer is..
I our area, we find that demand for surgery is much higher than supply due to the vet shortage. That means we focus on the people who want the service and don't spend a lot of time with the ones who don't.
It can take time to build trusting relationships with your target communities. Think about ways to accelerate that. Do you have volunteers from the neighborhood who can be local cheerleaders? Are your events in the community? Are there any potential fears such as immigration status? Do they have to check in their pet and then leave or can they stay while the surgery is done? Maybe having a mobile clinic visit the community would create curiosity and interest compared to sending pets to a vet outside of the community or to a shelter clinic (which can look too institutional for those who don't trust government or law enforcement). Or invite the children to gown up to watch surgery, teddy bear surgery clinic at your other events . . . anything to break the ice. You could also just ask them in a focus group why they think there is hesitancy.
Then I would ask an outside person to evaluate your signup system with fresh eyes. How many steps are involved? Do they need to pay a deposit? Do they have to miss work? Are appt times convenient? Are multiple visits or call required? Is there a long wait between sign ups and surgery? Can you overcome barriers such as language, transportation, cost?
Don't lose hope. It's not unusual for it to take a few attempts before surgery gets done. Living with low resources creates chaos and less ability to stick with plans. Laurie Weiss at Downtown Dog Rescue in Los Angeles might have good advice. Downtown Dogs works with the homeless and it has a lot of challenges (but you know that).
I am going to share this with my team for discussion and thank you very much for taking the time to provide input.
Petfinder's new rules require all rescues and shelters to do adoptions only after the pets are spayed and neutered. I'm not sure if they've been successful in communicating that to pre-existing users...
I believe you can send pets home with a neuter/spay certificate OR you can do foster-to-adopt in the meantime.
We've had the same experience as@Maria Saucedo ourselves where vets are scheduled for months out, so everyone loves when the pets are already altered. I'm sure it varies by region!
In the rare chance we can't get a certificate in the region, what we do to incentivize is to reimburse the cost, and make sure the animals are scheduled for surgery at the adopter's local vet, when we send them home. I find that people just can't afford to pay for it.
We've been quoted $775 for a routine spay in AZ just this week!
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