Longtime game show host Bob Barker offered good advice at the end of each episode of “The Price Is Right”:
“Help control the pet population. Get your pets spayed or neutered.
It was an important message. A cat can live up to 20 years but can only start breeding after five months. Gestation lasts just over two months, meaning she can have five litters a year, with up to nine kittens per litter. Over a lifetime, that can mean about 900 kittens.
For dogs, the numbers slow down a bit. They can have up to 10 litters in their lifetime, with up to eight puppies at a time depending on the breed. It could be 80 new four-legged friends introduced to the ecosystem.
An overabundance of stray dogs and cats can affect local populations in the same way that a non-native species can. Cats can decimate bird populations. Stray animals can damage property, affect property values, spread disease and create unsanitary conditions.
But it’s a stray animal, right? What do pets have to do with it? Unwanted litter can become unwanted animals that are abandoned or abandoned, becoming a public nuisance.
It provided the Pittsburgh program with vouchers for city residents to spay or neuter pets, a smart investment on multiple fronts.
The best citizen programs use small investments to understand big problems in a domino effect. Covering the procedure did more than save residents on veterinary bills. It saved money on other pet supplies and made safe, humane care possible. This meant fewer animals ending up on the streets and all the complications that come with them.
So stopping the program because it was being mistreated by out-of-towners is a sad outcome.
The city and its actual residents — not to mention all those cats and dogs — would be better off by getting money back from those who fraudulently obtained the vouchers.
At $70,000, the price is right for a program with so much impact.
Come on, Pittsburgh. Help control pet populations. Get your pet spayed or neutered.