Pit bulls targeted in spay/neuter program

The Maryland SPCA announced the opening of its new low-cost spay-neuter clinic today and said the new program will initially be directed at pit bulls and feral cats.
The new clinic seeks to help “the two most vulnerable pets that end up in shelters -- pit bulls and cats -- by providing services to reduce their numbers,” said Mary-Ann Pinkard, president of the Maryland SPCA board of directors.
The theme of yesterday’s opening – keyed to Valentine’s Day – was “Show your Pit the Love. Neuter Him.” (That's 2-year-old Will O'Dell to the left, meeting Cleo, one of two pit bull type dogs attending yesterday's announcement.)
The clinic, in a refurbished pump house on the grounds of the Falls Road shelter, replaces the SPCA’s “Neuter Scooter,” a brightly painted bus that traveled the city for four years, providing the surgery at no cost to dog and cat owners.
The Neuter Scooter stopped making its rounds in 2005 –- after providing more than 10,000 surgeries -- when the cost of operating it became prohibitive.

Even though grant money, donations and vaccination fees helped defray the cost, the organization still lost about $600,000 during the program’s four-year run. Since then, the SPCA has operated a spay-neuter program on its grounds, but the new surgical center expands the nonprofit organization’s capabilities.
The Maryland SPCA altered 6,000 pets in 2007. Under the new program, low-income families – defined as a family of four making less than $35,000 a year -– can have their cats or pit bulls spayed or neutered for between $30 and $40.
The program will also work with organizations that trap, neuter and return feral cats to the environment in which they were found, ensuring such wild populations don’t multiply.
During February, the SPCA’s clinic will charge only $20 to spay or neuter pit bulls. Private veterinarian’s fees for spay-neuter surgeries often are $100 or more, said Lillian Alfaro, the SPCA’s staff veterinarian.
Aileen Gabbey, executive director of the SPCA, said the program will lead to fewer abandoned pets, fewer pets in shelters, less aggressive pets and a healthier community.
The clinic’s goal is to spay or neuter 100 pit bulls, 1,400 feral cats, and 1,500 cats whose owners are low-income in 2008.
To schedule appointments, call 410-235-8826, ext. 140, or email fixem@mdspca.org.