We got this submission in response to a commentary by Dr. Michael McLaughlin about pet overpopulation:
I'm writing in response to Dr. McLaughlin, regarding what he sees as the 'cart before the horse' approach by which humane societies emphasize sterilization of all adopted pets over some diagnostic screening tests. Specifically, Dr. McLaughlin indicated that testing dogs for heartworm disease and all cats for feline leukemia was as important (or perhaps more important) than ensuring their sterilization.
I agree that in a perfect world, with unlimited funds, I would love to screen every pet for a multitude of disease risks. However, in the land of shelter medicine, where I live and breathe, decisions must be made that reflect the overall population health in addition to that of the individual animal. With a published disease incidence of less than 3% of healthy cats truly being FeLV positive, testing may not be the best use of limited funds when those same dollars could be used to sterilize and place additional animals into forever homes. Of course, this assumes potential adopters are fully educated about the recommendation for testing at their family veterinarian's office.
Contrary to Dr. McLaughlin's statement, targeted spay/neuter initiatives remain the ONLY method that has been proven to decrease the euthanasia of healthy adoptable pets at shelters. I encourage readers to check out the statistics from Peter Marsh who instituted the STOP program in New Hampshire, which has resulted in drastic reductions in euthanasia within that state.
Euthanasia remains the number one killer of healthy adoptable pets in the U.S., greater than parvo, heartworm disease, or influenza. As long as this is true, I will continue to preach the necessity of sterilization, and I will judge the effectiveness of humane organizations by those parameters. I urge my colleagues to be equally supportive of targeted spay/neuter collaboratives that will serve to save lives (and can simultaneously grow your client base).
Kelly Ann Rada DVM
Shelter Vet To Go!
Edited by Brendan_Howard, 5 years ago
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