So what is the answer? We need to find ways to make the procedure so simple and affordable there's no reason for pet owners not to have it done.
One caller said his idea for a possible solution came after hearing that the late billionaire Leona Helmsley had left $12 million to her dog. "An interest-bearing national trust fund should be set up and administered by the ASPCA. Anyone could donate to the fund, and I think there are plenty who would. The interest earned from the money could be used to help fund spay and neuter programs in every state."
Another e-mailer, philbarboxers, asked, "Why can't the state offer a license plate for vehicles with an animal theme, then donate a dollar or such toward the spay/neuter of pets in West Virginia?"
I was alerted to the existence of the FOHO Spay Mobile, which is a traveling low-cost spay/neuter clinic that operates within a 50-mile radius of their home base in Huntington. (They've attempted to get legislation passed allowing them to extend their borders so they can travel statewide, but have not been successful.) The mobile spay/neuter clinic was purchased in 2001 through a donation from Laura Davis of Clarksburg.
Aucremanne wrote, "We need to work on getting low-cost clinics in place to help people. We have low-cost rabies clinics. Why not work locally to create low-cost spay and neuter clinics?"
I imagine most vets are swamped with requests to provide some kind of free or discounted service. I was once in a vet's waiting room when an injured dog was rushed in by a stranger who saw it get hit by a car, and I listened as the vet agreed to treat the animal even though no one there was willing to pay. Later, he told me that if he'd refused, everyone in that waiting room would've thought him coldhearted. It would've damaged his reputation and their image of him.
While most veterinarians have chosen their profession because of their love for animals, they still have a business to run. We can't expect them to discount their services to the point where they're losing money, but hopefully, we can find a middle ground that will satisfy them while also enabling more people to be able to afford to alter their pets.
Are there any vets out there who would like to add their two cents? Karin Fuller can be reached at 348-5191 or via e-mail at karinful...@cnpapers.com.