Business Up 25 Percent At Spay Oklahoma

Thursday, April 2nd 2009, 10:37 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Too many unwanted animals are being born and not enough are being adopted, but those figures are changing.

There's a belief that fixing the problem came through a crackdown of an existing law.

At the end of each day, dog owners arrive at Spay Oklahoma to pick up their neutered and spayed animals.

"The only way to make him happy was to get him fixed to keep him calm," the Rev. Anthony Him said.

Business is up 25 percent. The increase started last year, when the city started writing $150 tickets for loose animals that weren't fixed.

The longstanding practice had been just to encourage owners to have it done, with a $50 fine.

"That simply wasn't working," said Jean Letcher, director of Animal Welfare.

It's beginning to pay off at the animal shelter. Although people still abandon animals the number of unwanted animals has dropped by 20 percent.

The city credits the stronger enforcement with an increased fine that is refunded if the owner has the animal fixed.

"They're understanding we're serious about enforcing this ordinance, the spay and neuter ordinance," Letcher said.

Just as more people are having their animals fixed, another positive trend is taking hold -- adoptions are up.  That combination makes a big financial difference for the animal shelter.

Each animal at the shelter costs the city about $140. Cutting that number by 400 animals each month saves more than $50,000.

"It's been great for the animals," said Ruth Steinberger, Oklahoma Alliance for Animals.

The Oklahoma Alliance for Animals supports the increased enforcement, believing the benefits will only increase with time.

"So when a dog is at home, it's a neutered pet, it's not getting involved in biting incidents, so it's not a problem to the city," Steinberger said.

Last year, Spay Oklahoma provided low-cost services for 7,000 animals.