Pittsburgh launches free spay, neuter program
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Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and City Council President Darlene Harris on Tuesday launched a spay and neuter program that will be free to city residents, saying better control of the pet population will contribute to Pittsburgh's quality of life.
The $170,000 program is expected to reach at least 3,000 dogs and cats. Gerald Akrie, city animal care and control supervisor, said he knew of no other municipality to offer the free service, and Mr. Ravenstahl called the investment another step forward for a city that in recent years has piled up accolades for its livability.
Supporters said the program will cut down on the number of dog bites and reduce the number of pets wandering the streets, struck by vehicles and overflowing shelters.
"This is a priority that we've set that we're proud of," Mr. Ravenstahl said.
The city's previous spay and neuter program, which offered procedures at a reduced price, was discontinued about eight years ago at the request of state-appointed financial overseers.
Mrs. Harris pushed the free program through council last year. At the time, council and Mr. Ravenstahl were squabbling over finances, and the mayor never implemented it, even though Mrs. Harris held a kickoff news conference and residents signed up by the dozens.
Now, each city resident may have as many as five pets spayed or neutered for free. In addition, feral cats will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The procedures will be performed by Animal Rescue League in Homewood, Western Pennsylvania Humane Society on the North Side and Animal Friends in Ohio Township.
The 250 residents who signed up last year need not apply again. Others may call the city's 311 service line for more information or download an application at www.pittsburghpa.gov/animalcontrol. Residents must present two forms of city identification, vaccination records and dog licenses.
"This will end up being a cost savings to the citizens," Mrs. Harris said, noting the city spends about $300,000 a year to detain and euthanize stray dogs and cats.
Many animals that go into shelters never get out, said Dan Rossi, Animal Rescue League executive director, noting "there just aren't enough loving homes." He said spaying and neutering "is really the only answer."
First Published 2012-02-28 23:18:53