APA Statement on Spay and Neuter during COVID-19 Pandemic
By: Sarah Javier, Executive Director | March 27, 2020
The APA has worked through numerous challenges during these unprecedented times. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our operations in ways we couldn’t have imagined just a few short weeks ago. Essential staff are caring for the animals and we continue to meet our mission of bringing people and pets together through creative ways such as curbside adoptions, emergency fostering, online humane education, and videos. We know we must continue to adapt as this situation evolves. Fortunately, we have an incredible team and have been able to respond to every challenge with well-informed, decisive action.
A recommendation to limit “non-essential” or “elective” surgical procedures has been made by the U.S. Surgeon General. All health care professionals, including veterinarians, are to adopt strategies that will allow them to conserve PPE (personal protective equipment) as much as possible. The AVMA recently stated that veterinary practices can and should defer elective procedures to preserve medical supplies. While spay and neuter is important, it is considered a non-emergency procedure. The recommendation from leaders in our industry, including the ASPCA, HSUS, The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement, University of Wisconsin’s School of Veterinary Medicine- Shelter Program, and the American Veterinary Medical Association is to temporarily suspend spay and neuter surgeries.
Based on this information, the APA has decided to temporarily suspend spay/neuter surgeries for our adoption center animals and outreach program. We will join a list of shelters, spay/neuter clinics, and veterinary practices around the country doing this to prioritize saving lives – both human and animal. This decision was not made lightly, but in doing so we:
- Conserve PPE needed by medical professionals working on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Were able to donate some of our PPE to a local hospital already experiencing a shortage of necessary supplies;
- Maintain only essential employees in the building and reduce exposing our staff to COVID-19;
- And ensure we have surgery supplies available for emergency surgeries necessary to save the lives of animals in our care.
Our commitment to spay and neuter is unwavering. However, vulnerable animals continue to need sheltering and we must do what we can to get them into loving homes. We do not want to hold animals needing spay/neuter surgery for weeks to months, risking overcrowding. Even the best shelter environments are stressful and we have their emotional and physical well-being in mind, as well.
We will continue to do adoptions and will require each adopter to sign a spay/neuter agreement at the time of adoption. We will follow up with adopters as soon as we can resume non-essential surgeries, and have a number of options available to make post-adoption spay/neuter possible. The APA will prioritize specific surgery days for these pets for those who wish to have their pet spayed/neutered at the APA. We have also partnered with Carol House Quick Fix Clinic and will offer a voucher to have the surgery done at their clinic. Many adopters already have a relationship with a veterinarian, so an additional option is to have the pet spayed/neutered at their own vet. With medical records verifying the procedure, the APA will provide reimbursement to help cover the cost of the surgery.
We realize spay/neuter is a cornerstone of our success and, during normal times, it saves lives. We are not operating under normal circumstances and we must prioritize and continue helping as many animals as we can.
Animal welfare has made great strides by reducing pet overpopulation through spay/neuter efforts and, post-COVID-19 pandemic, we will continue those efforts. As soon as we can, we will ramp up our existing programs for shelter surgeries, free spay/neuter services for our outreach community (63136 zip code), and TNR efforts. Until then we need your support either through adoption, fostering, donating, or sharing what we do.