Q: In theory, I support the idea of spaying or neutering all the cats and dogs but I feel like there should be exceptions. Where's the harm in my cat having just one litter so my kids can get to see the miracle of birth?

A: In theory, if it was "just" your family who was allowing their cat to have "just one litter" the repercussions might not be so bad. Unfortunately, that's not the whole story.

One cat’s 4-5 offspring multiplied by 1,000 other families creates an additional 4,000 - 5,000 cats that will need to find homes. Not having enough adoptive homes is a major factor in the number of cats who wind up in shelters every year, many of whom must be euthanized because there isn’t enough space for them all.

Responsible pet owners understand that by spaying or neutering their pets, and not allowing them to reproduce unnecessarily, they are helping to save the lives of 3-4 million animals each year who are at the shelter and won’t have a happy ending!

When thinking of "just one," please think about SAVING "just one" and consider fostering a pregnant cat from the shelter or a rescue organization.

Fosters (people who temporarily care for a cat or dog) are needed especially during kitten season which is typically from April through October. The shelter or rescue pays for all the expenses of the animal’s care including food, supplies and veterinary care.

The shelter doesn’t have a large enough staff to care for pregnant cats or cats with very young kittens and is forced to look at alternatives. This will include euthanasia if there are not enough people who come forward to help. Fostering is truly a win-win because the animals survive, the shelter’s euthanasia rates stay low and the fosters (including the kids) enjoy all the benefits of have a “temporary” pet without the long term financial concerns.

If you are willing to foster a cat (or dog) for any length of time, please call Coconino Humane at (928) 526-1076 or the Ark Cat Sanctuary at (928) 773-1330. Either of these organizations can also refer you to other rescue organizations who need fosters.

Q: I recently got a puppy from a friend. Can I get some help to have him neutered?

A: Yes, there are many no-cost and low-cost resources within our community who can help pay for spaying or neutering a dog or cat. Please call Coconino Humane (CHA) at (928) 526-1076 or The Findlay Toyota Pet Resource Line at (928) 300-4510 for more information.

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Q: What does the term “no-kill” shelter mean?

A: Good question, because there is a lot of confusion about this.

A “no-kill” shelter is typically privately run (no government contracts) and funded through donations and grants. This type of shelter can limit admission to only those animals they feel are appropriate for their shelter. These shelters usually have a higher staff to animal ratio which helps provide a superior level of care, gives staff more time to fully evaluate an animal’s temperament for placement and helps ensure that any euthanasia is limited to only those animals who are terminally ill.

“Open admission” shelters can and must take any animal at any time for any reason. They usually have contracts with local governments to accept stray dogs and cats and the animals that owners voluntarily surrender. These shelters take in thousands of animals each year and can be severely understaffed, with poor outcomes, because they tend to rely solely on government funding which is often limited.

A “low-kill” shelter (which may be open admission, limited admission or a combination) is typically identified as having a live release rate of 90% or greater. The live release rate is the number of animals who are released alive from the shelter either through adoption or transfer to another rescue. A 90% or greater live release rate means that the shelter has a 10% or lower euthanasia rate.

The euthanasia rate of any shelter can vary greatly depending on the number of animals turned in, the resources of the shelter and the involvement of the community in seeking alternatives to euthanasia.

Pamela Tharp is a board member of Paw Placement of Northern Arizona and the Ark Cat Sanctuary and a member of the Flagstaff Animal Welfare Task Force.

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