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An Important Way to Help End the Pet Overpopulation Crisis

The story of these accidental puppies underscores the importance of spaying or neutering your animals

“We don’t know how it happened. She must have gotten out once.”

Those were the words one woman said when she dropped off four Schnauzer mix puppies with one of our rescue partners down south.

All it took was one time for this Schnauzer to escape and mate with an unknown and unaltered dog.

The story of these Schnauzer mix puppies is not an unusual one. The tragic fact is that such accidents are the main reason that 4 million companion animals are euthanized in municipal shelters around the U.S. every year. Most of these innocent animals end up in shelters because their owners didn’t make sure their pets were spayed (for females) or neutered (for males).

The litter of mixed breed pups was among the lucky ones. They were picked up from the southern shelter by North Shore Animal League America’s Mobile Rescue Unit as it returned with 50 dogs whom they saved from a puppy mill nearby. 

“Every year millions of companion animals are euthanized in shelters around the country because there just aren’t enough homes,” says Sylvia Ottaka, Senior Director of Shelter Operations at North Shore Animal League America. “Many of these animals are young puppies. Spaying or neutering your pet will greatly reduce the overpopulation of unwanted litters and prevent these puppies from being euthanized.”

As Ottaka points out, too often people think that if they keep their pets indoors or in a gated yard, they don’t need to have them spayed or neutered. But, as the story of the Schnauzer mix puppies illustrates, all it takes is one slip up—a door left open, a broken gate, or even another dog or cat getting into your yard—for an animal to become pregnant.

The good news: North Shore Animal League America is helping reduce unwanted litters through its SpayUSA initiative, the leading low-cost spay/neuter referral program in the country. SpayUSA has been educating the public and veterinary specialists about the importance of spay/neuter since its development in 1993.

“By creating a nationwide network and referral service, SpayUSA has literally helped hundreds of thousands of people obtain affordable spay/neuter procedures for their animals,” says Joanne Yohannan, Senior VP of Operations at North Shore Animal League America. “As a leader in the no-kill movement, we’re dedicated to working toward ending the destruction of animals, and this essential procedure is the key to making that happen.”

If you have a pet or know someone who does, be sure to make the humane decision: Spay or neuter your pets to prevent them from having any accidental pregnancies.

To find out more about SpayUSA, call 1-800-248-SPAY, or visit And don’t forget to ask your vet to join our network of 5,000 participating vets who take part in the program!


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