Free Pet Spay/Neuter Program in County Becomes Victim of Its Own Success

A free pet spay and neuter program by Maricopa County will become more limited this year because of a deluge of customers.

The national Big Fix Program is the main source of funds for the service, which is offered by Maricopa County Animal Care and Control.

The county started the program three years ago for the purpose of helping low-income families, but not-so-low-income families apparently caught wind of it, too.

In 2007, says a news release (below) by the county agency, the program provided 5,915 free sterilization surgeries, worth about $60 apiece. Last year, the number jumped up to 14,600 surgeries.

The national group had hoped to fund 12,600 surgeries from July 1, 2008 to June 30 of this year -- but the county has already blown through that number. Here's why, according to the agency:

Applications were intended to be distributed only through MCACCs website, shelter locations and mobile adoption or spay/neuter events in lower-income areas, as well as mailed to those without internet access. However, well-meaning animal lovers reproduced the applications and began distributing them at dog parks and passing them on to family or friends. As a result, MCACC has been flooded with applicants and the program has seen an unexpected redemption rate of approximately 75%.

So, starting April 15, applications for the service will be tagged with a "unique and numbered seal," and available only at special events. Applications without the seal will be honored until May 1.

It seems like someone skipped Economics 101: Set your price right, or the supply will be eaten up by demand.

The program is now looking for more donors, as you can read in the county's release. About $60 would be nice -- your BWM-driving neighbor loves a good freebie.

Spay Neuter Program