Sunday, April 14, 2024
health and safety

Free Cat or Dog Spay/Neuter Program for City of Pittsburgh Residents

black kitten in kleenex box
Mewsette’s clever tissue box fort to ambush her brothers.

Did you rescue a lost or abandoned kitten this summer, or even a mother cat with kittens? Or an adult cat who turned out not to be spayed or neutered? Did your cat have an unexpected litter of kittens? Spaying and neutering your pets is part of the essential health care for a long healthy life and to permanently avoid unexpected litters of kittens.

Spay or neuter surgery is not in everyone’s budget, especially if you’ve got a mother cat and kittens and want to have them all done. However, there are opportunities for free or low-cost surgeries offered by shelters and organizations just to make sure pets are spayed and neutered and to avoid next year’s crop of unexpected and unwanted kittens flooding shelters each summer. If you live in the City of Pittsburgh, you can apply for up to five free spays or neuters for your household through the city of Pittsburgh and Animal Care and Control.

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Cats and dogs can go into heat and successfully breed at FOUR MONTHS OF AGE.

You don’t need to wait until a kitten or puppy is six months old to spay or neuter. Pediatric spay and neuter can be performed as young as two months and weighing two pounds. Have the surgery done as soon as possible.

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At the end of February 2012 Pittsburgh’s City Council approved a program sponsored by Council President Darlene Harris that provides a voucher for up to five pets per household to City of Pittsburgh residents; the city has a limit of five pets per residence and will not cover more than that. The bill allocated $170,000 toward the program, yet the city spends much more than that in combined animal control costs. Council decided that spaying and neutering pets of city residents will result in reduced costs immediately and into the future. Stray and feral cats you care for outside are also included in the program.

How the program works

This program is available all year round. Pet owners may apply at any time by completing an application for each cat or dog, and can also apply for feral cats if the colony is in the City of Pittsburgh.

Your pet should be up to date on vaccinations prior to scheduling a surgery. Any animal that cannot have vaccines will be handled on a case by case basis. Pet owners and/or caregivers are required to prove city residence and vaccination records for their pets:

  • Two bills with a valid city address
  • Driver’s license or equivalent form of identification with a valid city address
  • Vaccination records
  • Valid City of Pittsburgh dog license

Three shelter veterinary clinics participate in the program and you can choose in order of preference, Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania or Animal Friends, and when the application is approved Animal Care and Control will send the application to the appropriate shelter for scheduling. If the application is not properly completed then the application for the City Spay & Neuter Program will be denied until the appropriate documentation is received and approved by the City Animal Care and Control office.

One caution is that the shelters will not perform surgery on dogs over six years of age without blood work and veterinary approval for the procedure. Shelters will provide the pre-surgical blood work for an additional fee to determine the health and eligibility of the animal for the City Spay & Neuter Program.

On surgery day

You will be contacted with your appointment place, date and time, and instructions for what to do before and after the surgery.

  • All dogs must be identified appropriately by wearing their valid city of Pittsburgh dog license and rabies tag on their collar the day of the procedure.
  • All owned cats must be identified appropriately by wearing their rabies tag on their collar the day of the procedure.

Pets will be dropped off and picked up per the instructions received. Pets are not discharged unless they are fully conscious and functioning, and feral caregivers are generally asked to hold ferals overnight before release. Animals who are too sick or congested or seem otherwise compromised will not be cleared for anesthesia and will not have surgery that day.

Feral are trapped by their caregivers and must arrive in a humane trap. All three shelters and City Animal Control have traps that they will loan to caregivers with a deposit of $50.00, and each shelter will train caregivers on how to use the traps properly (traps are only loaned to people using the free spay/neuter program).

Caretakers may also purchase a microchip for a pet at the time of surgery for $3.00.

Read more about it here, and if you are a City of Pittsburgh resident you can also download a form here: City of Pittsburgh’s free spay and neuter program.

For other free or low-cost spay and neuter programs in the Pittsburgh area and surrounding counties, visit this page for links.

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Gratuitous photo of Mewsette at about five weeks old showing off her clever Kleenex box fort.

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From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

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