Column: Spay/neuter pets for their health and curbing pet homelessness


A jogger in Victory Park spotted Luna (A512379) giving birth to her puppies in a bush. She had already given birth to three, and one more arrived on the way to the shelter. Sadly, one of the puppies didn’t make it, but the other three grew and thrived in their foster home until they were ready to be spayed or neutered and adopted into loving families. Luna, now spayed as well, is still seeking her forever home. Luna’s story embodies just how important spay and neuter services are for the animals in our community.

Pasadena Humane is happy to announce the availability of low-cost spay/neuter surgery appointments in celebration of World Spay Day.

World Spay Day, which occurs annually on the fourth Tuesday of February, evolved from Spay Day USA, founded in 1995 by the Doris Day Animal Foundation.

World Spay Day is a reminder of the importance of spaying and neutering our pets. “Fixing” pets is one of the most effective ways to curb pet overpopulation and to end pet homelessness in our country.

Thanks to efforts on the part of animal welfare advocates throughout the United States to promote spaying and neutering since the first public spay/neuter clinic opened in the late 1960s, the number of homeless animals has significantly reduced.

Annual shelter intake for dogs and cats has dropped from an estimate of more than 20 million animals in 1970 to around 6.3 million today, thanks in large part to spaying and neutering pets.

Most states, including California, require that shelters spay/neuter all adopted dogs and cats before they go to their new homes. In addition, some cities, such as Pasadena, have mandatory spay/neuter ordinances on the books.

But decades of progress practically came to a halt with the COVID pandemic. Pet sterilization was not considered an essential service, and many low-cost providers and veterinary clinics were forced to suspend spay/neuter services temporarily.

The effects of the pandemic, coupled with a nationwide veterinary shortage, severely reduced the number of spay/neuter surgeries performed across the country. Researchers estimate that roughly 2.7 million pets that otherwise would have been altered went without surgery in 2020 and 2021.

The trickle-down effect from the reduction of spay/neuter has directly impacted shelters. After seeing fewer animals enter the sheltering system in the early pandemic years, intake has steadily risen since 2020.

From 2022 to 2023, Pasadena Humane experienced a 42% increase in the number of companion animals entering our shelter.

One of the changes we’ve seen over the last couple of years is the resurgence of puppies. Puppies had become a rare sight in our kennels. Now, we regularly have multiple litters of puppies — particularly large breeds like shepherds  — entering our care.

I urge everyone in our animal care and control service area to please spay and neuter your pets. Pasadena Humane has been working to expand our veterinary capacity to offer more low-cost spay/neuter surgery to our community.

During our busy summer months, the number of public surgery appointments we are able to offer is reduced.

Of course, our first priority has to be “fixing” the shelter animals so that they can be adopted. That’s why now is a great time to schedule surgery at our low-cost clinic.

In addition to helping control pet overpopulation, spaying and neutering of pets has many documented benefits.

Statistically, spayed and neutered pets live longer. Fixing your pet has been proven to eliminate or dramatically reduce the risk of uterine infections and breast cancers in females, and testicular cancer and prostate issues in males.

Getting your pet altered also curbs nuisance behaviors.

Neutered animals are less likely to roam and spray or mark. Your spayed female will no longer go into heat — eliminating the loud yowling associated with female cats searching for a mate.

Spay/neuter comes with financial benefits as well. Most cities offer significantly reduced license fees for altered pets.

Pasadena Humane’s spay/neuter clinic will release more surgery appointments on Feb. 25, just in time for World Spay Day Feb 27 and the month of March. More information on the spay/neuter clinic and appointments,


Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane. 

This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on February 23, 2024.