Spay/neuter clinics are essential to ending pet homelessness, and they’re producing amazing results.
PetSmart Charities has funded more than 100 spay/neuter clinics since 2009, and together they have done more than 2.1 million surgeries. This work has resulted in an estimated total of nearly 7.5 million births prevented. That’s a lot of lives saved.
A tireless effort
No matter how many pets we spay/neuter, there are many more whose parents haven’t even thought about a surgery for their pet. A few years ago, PetSmart Charities commissioned some research that found the #1 reason people aren’t fixing their pets is cost. So, PetSmart Charities funds a variety of programs that help address the cost of spay/neuter surgeries.
More focused programs
We’ve made a lot of progress, but last year we found a few issues that needed some more attention:
- Cats and pit bull terriers are often highly at risk of euthanasia in shelters across the country.
- Many communities don’t know that low-cost spay/neuter clinics exist. Plus, clinics often don’t have the funds for a marketing budget.
- Clinics also don’t have budgets or staff to create compelling marketing materials. So, they struggle to get the word out about their services, particularly to underserved areas. Certain times of year can be slower clinics, particularly February and August. This slowness can hurt a non-profit’s ability to provide services.
To help address these issues, PetSmart Charities pledged $1 million in 2012 to fund a new spay/neuter program targeting cats and pit bull terriers during specific times of the year.
Beat the Heat is born
The Beat the Heat campaign debuted in February 2012, enabling 65 clinics in 31 states to offer a low price and fun special to get the public’s attention. Each surgery only cost $20 for the public.
We launched the campaign in February to prevent the cats from going into heat before “kitten season”—which typically occurs in the spring. Kitten season bring in a rush of newborn kittens that overwhelm shelters. Hence the catchy title.
During Beat the Heat, PetSmart Charities provided grants for subsidized surgeries and provided customized marketing materials along with marketing guidance around the campaign
Marketing for impact
The program was incredibly successful and resulted in more than 19,000 surgeries. Why?
- It let people know that a low-cost spay/neuter clinic existed in the community
- It did so in a fun and catchy way
- It reached a broader audience
- It reached those who needed help with the cost of spay/neuter surgery
We received great feedback from the clinics that participated, too. All of them met or surpassed their goals. Many not only doubled the number of surgeries they performed in February, but continued to receive more calls and bookings. For example, two clinics in Charlotte collaborated to fix more than 1,000 cats in one month (the Humane Society of Charlotte and Spay Neuter Charlotte, featured in the picture). And, demand for their services has continued.
I think the results of Beat the Heat really show that when clinics have the tools to spread their message, the public responds. People want to spay or neuter their pets. They just need it to be affordable and accessible.
We also prevented a lot of unwanted pets! These 65 clinics around the nation worked together to achieve a common goal, and together we had a huge impact.
Spay/neuter surgeries will be available for only $20—including a free nail trim for your pit.