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Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Pittsburgh’s free spay and neuter services still suspended

On February 6, Pittsburgh’s pet owners were left in the dark after it was announced that the free spay and neuter services would be suspended, though people took advantage of the decade-long program. Over a month later, there is still no update on what the future of the program is. 


For over a decade, city residents had the spay and neuter procedures performed at no cost for up to five animals per household, including feral cats captured in humane trap boxes. Both Animal Friends and Humane Animal Rescue (HARP) partnered with the city to provide this service. 


“This really affects me; I got the paperwork to get my year-old puppy neutered and they (Animal Friends) called me back and explained to me that they are not offering the free program at this time, and I will have to pay the full price. That’s almost an extra $200,” Pittsburgh resident, Tammy Booth, said.


According to the Animal Friends website, the average cost to get a cat spayed/neutered is $85. For dogs, it can be as much as $250. For low-income residents, this could be a struggle. 


Another problem that this creates is the growing populations of unwanted litters of babies that people do not want, which could overwhelm shelters, leading to unnecessary euthanasia all due to an inability to afford the surgeries. 


This also affects the feral cat population. With the program gone, few people are bringing them in to get fixed, which could grow the feral cat population within the city. 


“In the past few months, I have noticed an increase in stray cats around my apartment. I try to feed them when I can, but I feel bad for them. Not everyone is so kind to strays,” Ireland Mahoney, a Carrick resident, said.


We reached out to the City of Pittsburgh for comment about the topic, but they did not respond. 


On the city’s Public Safety website, it states only that the program was placed on pause and “is being revised in ways to ensure that the program’s limited funds are helping those residents and animals most in need of this assistance.” 


According to a news release, a recent program evaluation revealed that “services were being used in inappropriate ways disingenuous to the spirit of the program.” 

Animal Friends and HARP both claim that people residing in the suburbs were using residential information from Pittsburgh friends and family members to take advantage of the service. 


“We are trying to work with the city and Humane Animal Rescue to work something out soon. We fully support the City’s goal of restructuring the program to make it as effective as possible in reducing the serious problem of over-population of animals,” Amanda Zetwo, medical director of clinic and community service, said.


Both animal shelters understand people’s worries and frustrations and are trying to work out plans with residents to get the services they need. 


“We are continuing to work collaboratively to ensure the future and sustainability of the program in order for the residents and animals who are most in need to have access to the quality care that is provided,” Zetwo said. 

Anyone looking for resources to get spay and neuter services, can contact Animal Friends at 412-847-7004 or email them at [email protected]. For Humane Animal Rescue, you can call the Pet Helpline at 412-345-0348 or email them at [email protected].

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