More than 800 low- and no-cost spay and neuter surgeries canceled due to COVID-19
Since Spay & Save began in 2010, more than 100,000 family pets in our community have been spayed or neutered through the program. Established by the Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland and funded by the dedicated donors of Oregon Humane Society, this pivotal program has reduced cat surrenders in Portland by 50% in 10 years through low- and no-cost alter surgeries. It has been instrumental in ensuring the end of euthanasia for healthy, social and treatable pets in our community.
Calls for help to Spay & Save are increasing, and according to our surveys, more than 95% of the animals served by this program have never seen a veterinarian before. Pet owners continue to seek affordable ways to get the care their animals need and deserve, but more and more animals are surrendered because the owners can’t afford veterinary treatment.
In mid-March, when non-essential surgeries were banned across Oregon as we faced rising COVID-19 cases, Spay & Save staff began calling clients to cancel the 800+ appointments scheduled for low- and no-cost spay and neuter surgeries. More than half of these surgeries were to be completed at the OHS Holman Medical Center.
The three-month pause in these surgeries was particularly detrimental for one family. They understood the benefits of spay and neuter and had scheduled appointments to have their five cats altered in late March 2020. Their appointments were canceled and — when we reached out to re-schedule them in early July — we found that all three females had given birth. Within a few months, five cats had become 22 cats. The two male cats came to OHS this week for their neuters, and the three females will be scheduled as soon as their kittens are old enough to be separated. When they are of age, OHS will spay and neuter the kittens and find them new forever homes.
Serving Spay & Save clients during the last ten years has shown us how much need there is in our community for accessible veterinary care, and we expect that COVID-19 will only worsen the problem. The three-month pause on elective veterinary surgeries and the economic impact of the pandemic will likely lead to more animals in need of homes and more families in need of care for their beloved pets. During the last decade, Spay & Save has prevented countless animals from entering the shelter system by controlling overpopulation, while also providing limited accessible veterinary care. We believe we can do even more.
Our New Road Ahead Initiative will address these issues by building the new Community Teaching Hospital dedicated to providing accessible care for animals in need. Spay & Save will have a new home in the hospital, allowing this pivotal program to expand and provide veterinary care to those in need.
Once they reach out to re-schedule all 800 canceled surgery appointments, Spay & Save will begin to schedule new clients. We anticipate seeing more young and homeless animals than we have in many years, but together we will recover from this detrimental pause in surgeries. Spay & Save has been an enormous step in helping the pets and people of our community, and at just the right moment, the new Community Teaching Hospital is the next necessary step to create a more humane society for all.