Task force issues guidelines for spay-neuter programs

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Jul 06, 2008
By dvm360.com staff
Ithaca, N.Y. - A 22-member national task force appointed three years ago to develop a set of uniform guidelines for efficient spay-neuter programs to reduce pet overpopulation and euthanasia released its recommendations.

The task force, convened in 2005 by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians (ASV), was made up of academic and private nonprofit veterinarians and non-veterinarian leaders in shelter/feral medicine from all parts of the country.

Its recommendations call for surgical initiatives in spay-neuter programs that meet or exceed veterinary medical standards, with the goal of more consistency among such programs nationwide and increased confidence in them among local referring veterinarians and the public.

Between eight million and 12 million pets will be abandoned to shelters this year, and five million to nine million of them will be euthanized because of lack of homes, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

The task force's guidelines were published July 1 in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Dr. Andrea Looney, DVM, Dipl. ACVA, a veterinary anesthesiologist at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, is lead author of the paper.

The guidelines are applicable to high-volume spay-neuter programs such as stationary and mobile clinics, MASH-style operations, shelter services, feral cat programs and services by private practitioners.

They cover principles of anesthesiology, intensive-care medicine, microbiology, population medicine and surgical practices, determined by evidence-based medicine and expert opinion from field and acacemic veterinarians.

"Our hope is that by providing a consensus document created by a group of professionals with expertise in these areas, the guidelines for consistent, quality care in spay-neuter programs will be set," says Dr. Miranda Spindel, ASV president.