Local non-profits remind people to spay, neuter pets before summer

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- Spring has arrived, and now that it's getting warmer, a local non-profit wants to remind people to spay or neuter their pets to help control the pet population.

The leaders with Altered Tails are especially encouraging pet owners to get their animals fixed before the summer season.

Officials with local shelters say they usually see a significant spike in animals coming through their shelters around summer time. Meanwhile, the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control reports seeing a whopping thousand animals over the course of the summer. As a result, spay and neuter clinics like Altered Tails are hoping to nip this problem in the bud.

Maricopa County reports a variety of reasons there's animal overcrowding at shelters during the summer, such as an increase in travel, relocation, and monsoon storms. As a result, more pets are ending up lost or abandoned, and when these cats and dogs wander off, it can lead to an overproduction of unwanted puppies and kittens, if they're not fixed.

"We start seeing owners bringing in puppies that have been born. We also see a lot of feral cats having babies and a lot of tiny kittens coming in," said Susana Della Maddalena, Executive Director of Altered Tails, a non-profit that operates two low-cost clinics in Phoenix and Mesa.

Della Maddalena said their main goal is to control the animal population by spaying or neutering, rather than euthanasia. Fixing cats or dogs can also reduce the risk of certain cancers, and lead to better behavior.

Jennifer Vogel, Director of Operations for Altered Tails, says when it comes to these procedures, younger is better.

"I think when they're younger, they have a much quicker recovery time, so they recover very quickly," said Vogel.

However, cats and dogs can be fixed at any age, so long as they are older than three months.

"It's not necessarily a painless procedure, with all the pain medications we have today. Again, it's a very quick procedure, they're in and out the same day, back to playing within a couple of days," said Vogel.

For people who can't afford to fix their pet through their vet, there are plenty of low-cost clinics that offer the service at a fraction of the cost. Officials with Altered Tails say they are seeing the biggest over-population of chihuahuas and pit bulls, so the non-profit is offering spay and neutering services for free for those breeds.