09 Dec Subsidised Desexing
Historically, veterinarians in Australia have offered a subsidised desexing program in a bid to reduce the number of unwanted companion animals that have to be destroyed every year. What most people don’t know is that this service really is subsidised by your vet. It actually costs us money to desex animals at well below cost price, so then why do we do it? It was traditionally done because it was thought that by offering this subsidised service it would encourage people to take advantage of it, have their pet desexed and therefore reduce the number of unwanted pets. I think it is obvious to everyone from the sheer number of animals in rescue centres, under welfare care and being euthanased year in year out that the service is not working.
So what is the solution? I think it is long and complicated but I believe that there is strong evidence to support early-aged-desexing (before the age of reproduction) and to educate owners about the associated benefits of early desexing. Some of the benefits include reducing the incidence of mammary cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, testicular cancer, prostatic cancer and scrotal cancer. It also reduces anti-social behaviour like roaming, fighting spraying/marking territory and leg mounting.
I know the majority of people like to be responsible pet owners, do the right thing and have their animals desexed early. So for these people subsidised desexing is justifiable, however there is the other end of the scale where some owners let their bitches have litter after litter and in these cases I don’t think they should be eligible for the subsided desexing service. I am not against owners breeding I just think that more thought needs to go into it.
It is the policy of the Girraween Veterinary Hospital that we will only offer the subsided program to sexually immature animals; this is the only reasonable way we can see of reducing the unwanted animals in Australia. As it is difficult to prove sexual maturity we have concluded the best “cut-off” point is when an animal has all their adult teeth or their first heat for females.
Discounted Spey procedures is a difficult issue as all clinics deal with it differently.
We give our greatest discount to immature (<6mo) female desexings as this helps to prevent unwanted puppies and dogs in rescue centres. We do not offer the same discount to mature-aged because it is a much more difficult surgery once they have started their seasons: the time in surgery is longer and the possibility of complications is much greater.
We choose not to discount the mature-aged dogs as heavily as we not want to take shortcuts and would rather the dog has all the same care and attention as we would with any full priced surgery. All our surgeries are all constantly monitored by a anaesthesia nurse as well as the machines that monitor their heart rate, respiration rate, oxygen saturation levels and blood pressure, they all receive iv fluids (this is usually an added extra at other clinics), they all receive an injection of pain relief as well as pain relief to home on (this is also usually an added extra) we do give the option of pre-anaesthesia bloods but we strongly advocate for it as we believe it is also necessary to help reduce the anaesthesia risks.
We cannot keep the costs as low as immature desexings as all desexings cost the clinic money to do. The reason the costs of desexings are heavily discounted is to encourage desexings to be done in general. Comparing to an equally invasive surgery you are still getting a heavily discounted abdominal surgery, whether immature or mature.
We go the extra mile to make each client and pets’ time here as pleasant as possible and we place high value the time and training it takes for us to do this.