Time to Celebrate, Reflect on Saving More Lives

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2014 is a year of celebration for PetSmart Charities. We’re celebrating 20 years of saving the lives of homeless pets.

PetSmart Charities adoptionMy 23-year career at PetSmart has closely paralleled the birth and growth of PetSmart Charities. I remember when PetSmart’s founders took a bold stand not to sell dogs and cats in their stores. This was fairly unheard of at the time—“a pet retailer that won’t sell pets?!”

But if you’ve been reading the news, you know that Phoenix and other cities are just catching up with PetSmart, by banning the sale of dogs and cats from commercial breeders.

Now they will only allow retailers to provide pets from local shelters and city facilities. PetSmart created PetSmart Charities as a separate nonprofit to help pioneer this adoption model two decades ago.

In that time, millions of pets facing euthanasia have found homes because of the dedicated efforts of so many pet lovers like you and thousands of animal welfare groups who are part of our lifesaving network.

Shifting Our Approach

But the time has come for PetSmart Charities to shift the way that it’s working.

We realize that so much of what we’ve been doing for 20 years—alongside our peers in the animal welfare field—has been reactive in nature. We’ve been placing pets in homes and funding spay/neuter surgeries to keep the crisis at bay.

But we’re now in a position to do more on the front end of the crisis—to proactively solve the problem.

PetSmart Charities is uniquely positioned to lead this effort. No other animal welfare organization has our community reach, established network of partners, and a culture that fosters collaboration.

spay neuter surgeryOver the next five years, the biggest change you’ll notice is in where we’re investing our grant money. We want to ensure that our grant dollar goes further and produces real and lasting change. Here are 3 programs we’re expanding:

  • We’ll provide more grant money for early-age spay/neuter surgeries. That means safely fixing pets as young as 2 months old. Some may wonder, “why not wait until they’re older?” Well, we’re about to enter what shelters call kitten season, when surprise litters fill their facilities. We know early-age spay/neuter is the best means to prevent this tragedy.
  • We’ll also partner with half the veterinarian schools in the United States. We want to ensure that a new generation of veterinarians has the skills needed to perform early-age surgeries safely and with confidence. Right now, there are schools where vet students graduate with only a handful of surgeries under their belts. Our goal is to reach all of the vet schools by the year 2020.
  • Finally, we know that coalitions of like-minded people can transform communities and save more lives, together. That’s why we will build and support more coalitions across North America that are serious about solving pet homelessness.

Saving More Lives, Together

This model is already paying off here in Phoenix. Last April, we pledged $2 million in grants to unite the work of several local animal welfare groups.  The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust matched that commitment.

This Fix. Adopt. Save. Campaign is pursuing a holistic model that applies best practices in adoption, spay/neuter and fostering together.

So how are we doing so far?

In our first 9 months, the number of pets euthanized dropped almost 15 percent compared to the same time last year. And the number of pets entering shelters is down as well.

We know there’s more work to be done to help homeless pets in Phoenix … and in other communities across North America. But PetSmart Charities is so encouraged by results like these.

Pet homelessness is a problem we can, and will solve, together.



I volunteer for several rescues that have partnered with Petsmart Charities and I have adopted rescued adult cats from them as well. I am curious how this program will affect these nonprofits as well. Many of them have "adoption days" at their local Petsmart where extremely young kittens and puppies are brought in to be seen by the public. They are not yet neutered because of their age and volunteering vets are yet to accept or learn of this procedure. However, these days are the only way these poor animals can be seen. In the northeast, extreme weather makes it difficult and often dangerous for kittens and puppies to be outside, and luckily have enjoyed the interior of Petsmart's store as protection from the elements. These kitties and puppies attract not only customers, but often lead to adoption of long-awaiting full-grown pets also. All of the youngsters are then neutered before adoption or soon after. Will your program prevent these yet-to-be neutered kittens and puppies from being INSIDE the stores? A clarification would be helpful, and thank you so much for all of the work you have done for rescued pets and the people who save them.


Thank you for reaching out to us. We want to assure you that we have the best interest of the pets in mind with this policy change. PetSmart Charities believes 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, effective April 10, 2014, will make sure 100% of pets adopted through PetSmart Charities’ adoption program are spayed or neutered before they go home. That means pets must be fixed in order to be shown at a PetSmart Charities adoption center or event.

We know we have to do this because 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 appreciate all that our animal welfare partners do to save homeless pets, and we’re working one on one with them to help them comply with this policy change. If you would like someone to contact you, call PetSmart Charities Program Manager Kit Jenkins. She can be reached at kjenkins[at]petsmartcharities[dot]org or 1-800-738-1385, ext. 2837.


Rose Bauman

I cannot believe that this is a "new" policy and that you allowed "rescues" utilize your stores for 20 years to adopt intact cats! Data has been available for years, that after adoption sterilization rates are about 60% and as low as 41%. I wonder how many cats you have indirectly added to homelessness in your 20 years of allowing this atrocity. I am no longer a PetsMart customer because of your practice of allowing enterprising, large "rescue groups" to indiscriminately import kittens/puppies/cats/dogs from other states, in particular during the colder months, when the kitten supply is low in my state, and putting them in cages in two of your stores in my neighborhood , one approximately two miles from a low income community, where dozens of stray cats roam in alleys, and for which I have provided s/n outreach and transportation for poor cat owners for years. If I would still be a customer of PetsMart, I no longer would be one now. I wonder how many of your MILLIONS of adopted cats reproduced, and are no longer in a home. Maybe you, shelters and rescues are realizing that you cannot "recue" and adopt homelessness and the treatment has been worse than the disease.


Hi Rose, I understand your concern. The vast majority of our partners have already been in compliance with our neuter before adoption policy. Our partners who were not practicing neuter before adoption were closely monitored through a post-adoption tracking system. We know that neuter before adoption is a best practice in the animal welfare industry, and we want to ensure all of our partners are in line with that best practice. You can read more about our decision here.


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