Fixing the problem in San Jose

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1998:

This is to update my April 1997
report on the changes in shelter intake at
the Humane Society of Santa Clara Valley
since San Jose began a free spay/neuter
voucher program in October, 1994.
The vouchers are no longer free.
Participants now pay $5.00 to have an
owned or stray cat fixed. Owned cats must
be licensed. The city of San Jose reimburses
veterinarians $20 per female, $10
per male, and the veterinarians keep the
$5.00 from the client. Surgeries on cats
who are pregnant, in heat, or have other
problems are reimbursed at a higher rate.

Participation fell when the fee
and licensing requirements started––
although caretakers of stray, unowned cats
are not required to obtain a license to
receive a voucher. In the first 16 months
of the program, 5,600 cats were altered,
but only 1,802 were altered in 1997.
Of those, 40% were feral, and
61% were female. By contrast, 19.5% of
the cats altered during the first 18 months
of the program were ferals, of whom
60.4% were female. Of the cats spayed in
1997, 16% were already pregnant, and
another 19% were in heat; only 4.4% were
pregnant and 4% in heat during the first 18
months of the program.
Spaying 438 pregnant females,
the 1997 total, meant 1,861 kittens were
not born on that one cycle.
From 1984 until 1991, the average
annual increase in incoming stray cats
at HSSCV was 5.9% per year.
The 1995 kitten season could not
have been affected by the voucher program,
as few vouchers were disbursed
prior to March 1995. After an 11%
increase in stray cats from San Jose for the
whole of 1995, shelter stray cat intakes
from San Jose fell 10% in only two years.
The number of stray cats from other cities
served by HSSCV decreased by 1.1%.
Overall, HSSCV received 14.8%
fewer cats in 1997 than in 1994––but,
counting intake from all the cities served,
still received 17,000 cats. If the number of
incoming cats had continued to rise at
5.9% per year, the San Jose intake would
have been 10,535 in 1997, instead of the
8,741 it was, and the total from all cities
would have been more than 20,000.
Handling cats under the San Jose
animal control contract costs HSSCV an
average of $55.86 apiece. The anticipated
cost to the city would have been $100,213
more in 1997 without the voucher program,
which in fiscal year 1996-1997 cost
San Jose $30,000.
Further details are at our web
site, >><<.
––Karen Johnson
National Pet Alliance
POB 53385,
San Jose, CA 95153

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