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Pets In The Recession: SPCA Steps Up Surgeries

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
by James Morrison

The Sacramento SPCA gets fourteen thousand animals a year.  It houses around 450 each day. Like all local shelters, it's overwhelmed with animals.

JOHNSON: "At eleven o'clock this lobby is going to be full.  It's going to be full of people bringing their animals in, relinquishing them for a number of reasons…. economic reasons,   foreclosures.  About three years ago we were getting a significant number of animals because their homes were being foreclosed on and they couldn't find housing.  Now we're seeing similar issues and concerns because people financially are caught in straits."

Rick Johnson is the Executive Director of the Sacramento SPCA.  He says his group is working to reduce local shelter populations.  With the help of the Sacramento County and City Animal shelters, SPCA has stepped up the number of animals it spays and neuters. 

JOHNSON:"We each year have pretty much doubled the number of surgeries we're doing.  This year alone we're gonna do 22 thousand spay and neuters, which is a huge number.  People around the country just can't believe it.  Next year we're shooting to do 25 thousand."

Sometimes the high-volume clinics will spay and neuter 60 animals in a day.  Johnson says cats and pit bulls are the clinics main targets. 

JOHNSON:"We get hundreds of thousands of kittens.  Kittens can breed.  They can have three litters a year.  So you have to stop the breeding." 

He says sometimes the shelter will get more than 100 cats in a day.  

Pit bulls don't breed as often as cats, but they can have up to 15 pups in a litter.    Johnson points to an operating table where a pit bull is lying with an anesthesia tube in its mouth.  Its tongue is hanging limply to the side and so are its legs. 

JOHNSON:"If you'll notice this guy right here, he's getting ready to be neutered. These surgeries are free."   

That's on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  The walls of the clinic's hallways are also lined with carriers full of cats waiting to be spayed and neutered.

Johnson says the ultimate goal of any animal shelter is to place every animal it receives.  He says Sacramento shelters will achieve that goal in just a few years with aggressive spaying and neutering.  But for now, he has to deal with 1,500 more animals this year than last year.      

JOHNSON:"We're still gonna get there.  But it's gonna be much harder, and we have more of those speed bumps ahead. But rest assured we will be there."

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