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The choice to obtain a pet presupposes some forethought concerning it's care. Nobody forces or requires you to own a pet. Neither is pet ownership a preconferred right, but rather a responsibility and commitment freely undertaken; and any reasonable person knows pet ownership will require expenses for food, shelter and occasional medical care.
One aspect of pet care involves "planned parenthood" for your pet. There are medical advantages for the pet and sociological advantages for us humans if the pet is spayed or neutered. Unfortunately, sterilizing the pet requires surgery. Unfortunately, not everyone has the skill to do this safely. Unfortunately for the pet owner, they will have to actually pay someone to do it who does know how … just as you world to repair a water leak in your basement.
It is self evident that this surgery never comes as a surprise to the pet owner. It is not an unplanned emergency. It is not something that suddenly presents itself as a huge medical/financial disaster. I fully appreciate the fact that there are people who desire to own a pet and also desire to responsibly curtail their pet's reproductive ability but have severe financial constraints. To these people we extend credit with no interest and a payment plan is set up.
I personally believe it is unfair and illogical to assert that "If you vets truly had humanitarian feelings for pets like you're supposed to, you wouldn't charge so much for 'fixing' them. That's why there are so many unwanted pets. And maybe if you did it for free, all those animals wouldn't be put to sleep in animal shelters."
Sometimes I'll respond to these questions with equally illogical statements of my own like, "Why don't the dentists give away free tooth reconstructions to people who can't afford it; or the shoe store owner give away basketball shoes to kids whose torn shoes affect foot care and posture? Or why doesn't the heating specialist fix that furnace for a bargain price for old folks on a fixed income; or why doesn't the guy who runs the clothing store sell winter coats at cost to people who "just can't afford" warm winter clothes? After all, we're talkin' HUMAN HEALTH here! If these business people had any humanitarian empathy toward their fellow human beings, they wouldn't charge so much for those things!"
Somehow the veterinarian has been singled out to give their time and labor away for "humanitarian reasons" in order to stem the tide of homeless, unwanted pets. I speculate it's in keeping with the currently fashionable fixation on blaming someone or something else for our own personal challenges. If all the veterinarians in the USA did nothing but spays and neuters all day long for a month, it would barely dent the surface of the pet over-population problem. The responsibility for animal population control lies squarely on the shoulders of the pet-owning public. Veterinarians, through their understanding of medicine and surgery, are available to assist and promote pet population control. And, like any other service provider, they charge a fee for your use of their knowledge, skill, and time... just like a plumber, cab driver or neurosurgeon.
I've raised the fees I charge only once in the last eight years. Can you think of ANY other business whose fees have gone up less often than that? I believe other area veterinarians are also holding steady regarding the fees for spays and neuters. Plus, all the veterinarians I know in northern Wisconsin donate their services at no charge for spaying/neutering animal shelter pets in order to increase the animal's chances of adoption. So, if pet owners in my neighborhood are looking for a bargain for surgical sterilization of their pets, look no further … you're already getting one!
T. J. Dunn, Jr. DVM