PHOENIX -- Dozens of Valley pet owners lined up before dawn Wednesday as the Arizona Humane Society kicked off its first Spay Up All Night event.
Normally AHS' free spay/neuter events take place in the morning. Spay Up All Night, however, is a first-of-its-kind event for AHS, offering pet parents two opportunities to get their animals fixed. The first check-in was at 6 a.m. A second will take place at 6 p.m.
Patients are taken on a first-come, first-served basis. That's why the first person in line Wednesday morning arrived a full 12 hours early.
Those who waited in line said the timing of the free event is perfect.
"There are so many people that need this," Rebecca Lopers said. "They want this. It's just a great blessing to have it provided to the community."
AHS spokeswoman Bretta Nelson said 42 pets were spayed or or neutered during round one of Spay Up All Night, and more than 50 vouchers were given out.
AHS Circle of Friends is covering the costs of Wednesday surgeries. The group was established in 2007 to raise money specifically for spay/neuter initiatives like Spay Up All Night.
"In another first, AHS' President and CEO, Dr. Steven Hansen will put his veterinary background to work as he spends the morning examining pets and scrubbing in on surgery," Nelson said in a news release. "Dr. Hansen, along with AHS' public clinic team and shelter surgery team, are committed to spaying/neutering 121 owned and shelter pets in just one day."
The number 121 is significant. That is the average number of animals AHS takes in on any given day.
"I can't overemphasize how important spaying and neutering your dog and your cat is," Hansen told 3TV's Javier Soto before getting down to business. "We have a huge pet overpopulation problem here in Maricopa County. Spay and neutering is the only way to control this problem."
Hansen is not exaggerating when he calls the pet overpopulation problem in Maricopa County "huge." Among the worst in the country, we are second only to Los Angeles County in terms of pet overpopulation.
When you consider how dogs and cats reproduce, it's easy to see how it can happen.
According to AHS, one pair of dogs and their puppies can create 67,000 dogs in just six years while a single pair of cats and their kittens can produce 420,000 cats in just seven years.
Spay Up All Night is the organization's second spay/neuter event this month. Last Monday, AHS handed out more than 700 free and 50 percent off spay/neuter coupons to hundreds of people at Tempe Marketplace.
"All of this month's events are in celebration of the upcoming World Spay Day on Feb. 25," Nelson said. "World Spay day is an annual international event devoted to the importance of spay/neuter to save the lives of companion animals."
In addition to helping control pet population, spaying and neutering has a number of health benefits for your pet.
Spaying your female dog or cat:
- Helps prevent serious medical conditions, such as uterine infections, uterine/ovarian cancer and breast cancer.
- Is far less expensive than the cost of treating an infection, having an emergency c-section, treating cancer or raising a litter of puppies or kittens.
Neutering your male dog or cat:
- Helps prevent serious medical conditions, such as testicular cancer and often has a positive effect on your pet’s behavior.
- Makes pet less likely to mark his territory or spray urine throughout the house.
- Tends to make pet less aggressive and less likely to roam.
Neutering your pet prior to maturity and spaying your pet prior to her first heat cycle (both at 4-6 months old) offers the best protection against serious health issues and the establishment of negative behaviors.
If you're planning on taking your pet to be spayed or neutered for free Wednesday evening, there are a few thing you need to know.
- Don’t give your pets any food for 12 hours prior to the surgery.
- All pets must be at least 2 months old.
- All pets must weigh at least 3 pounds.
- Dogs must be on a leash and cats must be in a carrier.
- Your pet will be ready to go home within several hours after his or her surgery – so please be prepared to pick up your pet at a designated time.
Vets will be performing surgeries into the late evening. Pet parents leaving their animals with AHS tonight will be able to pick them up early Thursday morning.
For more information on AHS' month of free and low-cost spay/neuter events, please visit www.azhumane.org/spayneuter.
AHS' Sunnyslope Public Clinic
1311 W. Hatcher Road, Phoenix