In Celebration of World Spay Day: Why We Believe in Neuter Before Adoption

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I recently celebrated one year as executive director of PetSmart Charities. And as I reflect on that year, I’m reminded that PetSmart Charities is unique in the animal welfare field.

cat with veterinarianWe were founded 20 years ago by PetSmart and maintain close ties to this retailer, our largest corporate donor. But the largest source of funding for our work actually comes from individuals, pet lovers like you who share our vision of a lifelong, loving home for every pet.

It’s this group that holds us accountable to deliver the highest-quality programs that save more than 400,000 pets’ lives every year.

We Heard You

For years, this group of individuals has been nudging us to make a key improvement to our adoption program—to require that all pets be fixed before entering PetSmart Charities’ adoption centers and events. On this, the 20th anniversary of World Spay Day, I’m proud to announce that our program will finally reflect this change starting April 10.

There are several reasons why we believe “neuter before adoption” is the right thing to do:

  • Adopters Want It: Research conducted by PetSmart Charities in 2011 showed a growing number of people are motivated to adopt rather than go to a breeder because they believe the pet will already be fixed. If we want more pets in homes, we have to meet adopters’ expectations.
  • Most of Our Partners Already Do It: The same study also showed a significant rise in the number pets who were fixed when their pet parents acquired them. In fact, the vast majority of PetSmart Charities’ adoption partners already neuter before adoption—in line with best practices in animal welfare.
  • It’s Best for Our Pets & Communities: The American Veterinary Medical Association says spay/neuter surgery is acceptable for pets as young as 8-10 weeks of age. Pets can become pregnant at 4 months. Most of these unplanned litters end up on the streets or crowding shelters in our communities. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The latest research in the veterinary field shows early-age spay/neuter surgeries are safe and effective. And PetSmart Charities is supporting early-age spay/neuter with millions of dollars in grants that provide surgical training to university veterinary students and practicing veterinarians.

PetSmart Charities is a national leader in pet adoptions. To live our mission, we have to break the cycle of unplanned litters ending up in shelters. This change is just a small step in the right direction.



Providing millions of dollars in grants to veterinary colleges is nice - How 'bout millions of dollars in grants for the little people who rescue. scrimp add save and could sure use some help with those neutering! costs!

Heather Allen

Thank you PetSmart Charities for making this commitment to the pets that are adopted through your adoption channels! This is something I've hoped you'd endorse for years and now it is happening! Sterilization before adoption is the only choice an ethical rescue organization makes to ENSURE they are not responsible for more puppies and kittens being born once the animals come in to their care. Hopefully this decision will be the catalyst for any rescues who have been slow to accept this practice. Way to go guys!


Providing millions of dollars in grants to veterinary colleges is nice - How 'bout millions of dollars in grants for the little people (your Partners) who rescue. scrimp add save and could sure use some help with those neutering! costs!


Hi Carollee, providing funding to veterinary schools is only part of what we do. As the largest funder of animal welfare in North America, we also offer grants to nearly 3,000 501(c)(3) nonprofit animal welfare groups for adoptions, spay/neuter and emergency relief. You can learn more about what we do visiting this section of our website:


Dear PetsMart,I am so glad that you are supporting spay and neuter as a long time animal volunteer, Vet assitstant,kennel volunteer, adoption volunteer, etc. I wish you at a local level in each city or state one by one have a contract with a local Vet mobile Vet,etc. I actually volunteered with a well known Vet in our local area at a feed store for a low cost vaccine small vet clinic, no x-rays,major medical, but the crowds of people and animals that were in line waiting for a lower cost vaccine for their pets was crazy i never imagined the amount of pets and people that would walk through that door, the Vet was a traveling/mobile Vet that came to our town 2 times a month, the feed store stop having him and the community was so upset that he left,him along with several other mobile Vets I have talked to would love to have a specific place they could come and do small Vet stuff, vaccines, rabbies, etc. there is a huge need for it and I am so curious why PetsMart has never that i have seen gotten with a local Vet that is mobile and would do low cost vaccines and some mobile vets have rv set ups that spay and neuter too, this would bring so much traffic into PetsMart to get homeless pets adopted, it consits of foot traffic, the more foot traffic you have the more apt animals are to get homes,the Vets I have talked to being about 3 of them said they would be more than happy to have somewhere to set up shop so to speak and do not charge the facility for their services, the owners is how they get paid, it is such a win win situation for PetsMart, what they stand for, the animals that need homes and the community that is looking for that low cost vaccines,they do have regular vets for their emergencies and other medical animal situations, but the over all complain that I get is that coming up with over $100 an animal for private vet vaccines is just rediculous,I agree when you can sometimes at a clinic if they are having them or if they are in that area that month you can have your pet Vaccinated for about $20,no office visit,or over head charges, just easy, and done really wish you would look into trying or local mobile vets especially in rural communities I know the public needs it and would use it!Thank you


Hi Pepper, thank you for your comment. Part of our funding for veterinary education goes to a program called Priority 4 Paws. It puts fourth-year veterinary students on a mobile spay/neuter surgery unit that goes to shelters in rural areas. You can learn more about the program, and see an example of how it's saving lives, here: 


FINALLY!!!! YAY! This is huge!


Finally...thank you!!! :)

Candy Sullivan

As a PetSmart Adoption Center Rescue Group located in Orlando, Florida, we have always adhered to our policy of spaying/neutering cats before they come to the store for adoption so it was disconcerting to see other rescue groups bring eight week old kittens with a vaccine, dewormer and a promise to spay or neuter. Sure, it means our kittens will be 11 weeks before they make it to the store, by the time we go through our own mandatory ten day quarantine period following surgery but this way we feel we offer healthy, fully vetted kittens for the potential adopters. Thank you, PetSmart for your new position and, THANK YOU FOR LETTING US BE PART OF YOUR STORES! We really appreciate what you do for Candy's Cats, Inc., in Orlando, FL.

Shirley Warnock

Deeply disappointed that your organization has made juvenile s/n a requirement. Our rescue has provided thousands of low cost s/n 's in our community. And any cat that is too young at adoption leaves a deposit and has follow up to prove it has been completed on time. Because we are a rescue we often are getting young kittens from desperate circumstances that would otherwise have perished. They are fostered and brought to good health and spirit with tender care and support. These young animals are not prepared for surgery /anesthesia at such a vulnerable time. Kittens coming close to six months of stable health are often done early, allowed to fully recover (physically and mentally) then introduced for adoption. There are so many cats that are "in between" that just need time to stabilize with their forever home, then tackle surgery. We will be losing our opportunity to place kittens into loving homes, thanks to this new rule. What a shame for these kittens. Sad day for our tireless all volunteer organization and the cats we work so hard to rescue, protect, and place in to loving homes.

Lynn D'Ovidio

I truly believe that all rescue groups adopting cats/kittens through PetSmart should also include Microchips in all the cats/kittens they bring into the store. It is irresponsible in my estimation to allow cats to be adopted out without a way of tracking them should they escape or be dumped by their owners. And both situations occur on a daily basis, you only have to go to the lost and found sites to see this. And the result is thousands of animals across the country that are never re-united with their owners because animals can't tell you where they live.


Did you really take into consideration how much you are limiting rescue groups? We work with area vets who provide spay and neuter to our dog adopters at no charge. You are truly limiting us. Why are you only applying this to rescue groups? Why can customers bring their animals into your store when they have not been spayed or neutered? Because of this new policy we are going to have to leave the Petsmart where we hold monthly adoption events. Hope your happy for sticking it to the people who work so hard to save these animals. And unlike you, we don't get paid for it!


Hi Shannon, PetSmart Charities is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit animal welfare organization, separate from PetSmart Inc. We believe spay and neuter surgeries are so critical to ending pet homelessness, we want to eliminate any risk that an adopted pet might not get fixed. The policy change will make sure 100% of pets adopted through PetSmart Charities adoption program are spayed or neutered before they go home. Pets can become pregnant before they’re 6 months old. The American Veterinary Medical Association says spay and neuter surgery is acceptable for pets as young as 8-10 weeks of age. We are working one on one with animal welfare groups to help them comply with this policy. If you would like to have someone contact you, please call 1-800-423-PETS (7387) or email info[at]petsmartcharities[dot]org. Thank you.


I notice you answered SHANNON'S post, but I wish u would reply to SHIRLEY WARNOCK. She raised a host of valid points. I know u state the AVMA endorses juvenile s/n, but what about the codicils issued by the same association? What about OTHER health considerations for these young small animals?


Hi Margie, I apologize for missing Shirley's comment. Per the AVMA's recommendations, we know that early-age spaying and neutering is safe for pets who are 2 months old. It's also crucial to ending pet homelessness because any pet that leaves a shelter or rescue organization without the surgery runs the risk of getting pregnant, or impregnating other pets. We have a staff member dedicated to helping our animal welfare partners comply with this policy. She can be reached at 1-800-423-PETS (7387) or emailing info[at]petsmartcharities[dot]org.


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