5 tips to put a lid on litters


Help clients make smart decisions about pet ownership and reduce pet overpopulation.

World Spay Day is Feb. 26. And while it often seems like most of your clients agree to spay and neuter procedures, the facts show there are still way too many pets and not enough homes for our furry friends.

"We do still see some pet owners who aren't interested in having their pets spayed or neutered," says Mandy Stevenson, RVT, a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and a technician at Rolling Meadows Animal Hospital in Adrian, Mo.

Kindles of kittens and packs of pups

Consider thee five tips on the next page to help reduce the population of homeless pets:

1. Fight with facts

"We present the facts about how spaying before the first heat cycle reduces the likelihood of developing breast cancer and eliminates ovarian cancer in females, and neutering eliminates testicular cancer and reduces the risk of prostate issues in males later in life," says Julie Mullins, a Firstline board member and staff training coordinator at Seaside Animal Care in Calabash, N.C.

2. Use humor

While pet overpopulation is serious business, a lighthearted approach with pet owners can bring smiles where stern lectures would fail. When it's appropriate, Mullins says she uses playful phrases, like, "Bob Barker may be disappointed if we don't help control the pet population by having our pets spayed and neutered."

3. Don't lead with price

When clients call to price shop, start the conversation with the benefits of the surgery. Giving clients the why first is an important key, says Stevenson. "When we discuss surgery with clients, we remind them about the importance of certain services," she says. "For instance, we always tell our clients that we use a surgical laser and safe, up-to-date anesthetic protocols and monitoring. We also give pain medication before surgery and send patients home with pain management."

Once people hear a number, it can be difficult to get them to understand the reason for the price, Stevenson says, and it can be hard to get them to listen carefully to the rest of the information.

4. Repeat your message

"We always discuss the importance of spays and neuters at the pet's first puppy or kitten wellness exam, and then we mention it again at each follow-up visit until the pet's old enough for surgery," Stevenson says. "We explain what types of problems the procedure can prevent later in life and how much better pets do when the procedure is performed at an early age."

5. Offer a handout

Finally, Mullins says she gives pet owners literature to help them with their decision-making. "You aren't going to win every battle," she says. "It's not personal. Present the facts in a kind, considerate way and let them speak and ask any further questions."

Portia Stewart is a freelance writer in Lenexa, Kan.

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