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In Dallas, S.N.Y.P. Addresses the Unwanted Pet Crisis

By Pamela Sosnowski

Every year, thousands of unwanted cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters or worse, suffer tragic deaths outdoors after being forced to fend for themselves. But Diane Randolph, President of the nonprofit Spay Neuter Your Pet (S.N.Y.P.) is hoping to eliminate shelter euthanizations and reduce stray populations through pet owner education and providing reduced-cost options for dog and cat owners to have their pets safely spayed or neutered. "After volunteering with several animal groups since 1983, I felt the most effective way to help end animal suffering is to prevent overpopulation in the first place," she says. "With every litter we help prevent, the suffering of thousands of homeless puppies and kittens will be avoided."

Both female kittens and puppies can become pregnant as early as five months old, and one female cat or dog can give birth to 100 offspring in her lifetime. In feral animal colonies, kittens and puppies can continue to breed and multiply the population, and the consequences are dire for these unwanted animals. "Overbreeding causes numerous problems for communities and animals," says Randolph. "Stray/homeless animals can end up in fights, jump fences to breed with females in heat, hang out in yards and alleys, and possibly bite people. Dogs and cats are exposed to disease, harm and cruelty. They are often forced to suffer through harsh winters and brutal summers. They can be hit by cars or caught in car engines. Some are poisoned (accidental or intentional), trapped or killed. Some are even stolen and used for bait in fighting."

To help reduce the unwanted pet population, S.N.Y.P. provides Dallas-Fort Worth area residents with options to have their pets spayed or neutered for a discounted price. They work with several local clinics that offer special pricing packages for vaccinations and spay/neuter surgery, and they can also provide a list of over 30 participating veterinarians and a special S.N.Y.P. coupon to pet owners. A good portion of S.N.Y.P.'s work is to educate the public about the importance of having cats and dogs spayed or neutered. They also loan traps for feral cats and direct people to a clinic to bring the captured cats to.

Randolph had volunteered for only two months at the organization before receiving an offer to manage it. "In 1996 I contacted S.N.Y.P. for volunteer opportunities," she says. "After two months the current president told me she could no longer run the program due to other responsibilities and asked if I would consider taking control. I agreed and here we are 19 years later."

Randolph's advice on how people can help stop the unwanted pet crisis is simple: "Always adopt your pets and be sure to have them spayed or neutered. If, by chance, you are faced with a litter, be sure to have the puppies and kittens spayed/neutered before they are adopted. Also, please support your local groups that promote spay/neuter programs such as SNYP. Every dollar used toward birth prevention is the most effective against pet overpopulation. Together, we can all work to end animal suffering."

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