Home > Animals, NO Kill, Pets, Philanthropy > Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

The San Antonio Area Foundation’s “Talk About It!” campaign welcomes Julie Ruff as a guest blogger. Julie manages SApaws.com, the pets page for the San Antonio Express-News and mySA.com. She is a lover of animals and has volunteered for Animal Care Services and the Helotes Humane Society.

Julie RuffAccording to an article in the San Antonio Express-News, officials estimate that there are 100,000 stray dogs roaming San Antonio streets. And I’m willing to bet almost none of them are spayed or neutered.

Animal Care Services spokeswoman Lisa Norwood said the city’s relatively new facility can hold about 169 to 300 dogs on any given day. That means we would need to have at least 334 more facilities to hold these animals if we somehow managed to round them all up. Of course, that will never happen. Sure, there are nonprofit shelters and rescues around the city also picking up strays and unwanted litters, but it’s not enough. Those 100,000 dogs are procreating. And that’s just the dogs.

We have the opportunity right now to change the course of an epidemic. In 2000, Malcolm Gladwell, a writer at The New Yorker, wrote what would become a bestselling book called “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” in which he describes how trends spread exponentially through the population.

“Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do,” he says. Once an idea sticks, or becomes contagious, small changes can have huge results in a very short amount of time. This is not an especially new idea, but at some point, the book itself reached a “tipping point” and soon everyone was reading it and talking about it.

So how do we tip the scales in San Antonio back in the right direction? An important part of “The Tipping Point” that we have to understand is that it’s not just one small change that tips a trend. It’s several small changes all occurring at the same time that cause dramatic shifts.  Adoptions are rising, and there is a push to spay and neuter more animals. Now there is the new “Talk About It!” campaign spreading these messages in English and Spanish throughout the city.Talk About It!

Local celebrities, such as Manu Ginobili, are getting on board and urging citizens to spay and neuter their pets. We need more people spreading this message because, as Gladwell says, sometimes it’s the messenger and not the message that makes an idea or behavior stick. I’m looking at you, Tony and Eva.

I used to think we’d never reach the 2012 no-kill goal, but there is hope now that if we make enough changes we may reach that tipping point and see dramatic results. We need to increase funding for free and low-cost spay/neuter programs, TNR and Animal Care Services. Let’s continue adopting rather than buying our pets. More foster homes are needed. Keep encouraging your family, friends and neighbors to be responsible. Let’s keep talking about it and acting on it. Let’s make no-kill infectious. Those 100,000 dogs aren’t going away.

Contact Gavin Nichols, Program Officer if you are interesting in helping San Antonio become an animal no kill city.

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  1. January 31, 2011 at 9:28 am

    I agree that in order to get to the no kill goal we need to make spaying and neutering a more affordable and readily available procedure. I would add that popular opinion of spaying and neutering needs to be tweaked from something thought of as a good option, to being considered of the utmost importance. A campaign that outlines the benefits of spaying and neutering from not only a stray animal perspective but one of the overall health and wellbeing of the pet, might provoke more people to do it. I enjoy your thoughts on the “The Tipping Point” and think that if each city took it upon themselves to bring this issue to the forefront, the 2012 goal may in fact be attainable in your city and others alike.

  2. February 3, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    katejacobs, you are absolutely right–not only should we talk about the benefits of spaying and neutering to the community by reducing the number of dogs and cats roaming freely in the neighborhoods, reproducing freely, creating a nuisance and getting hit by cars; we should also talk about what you point out so well–the health and wellbeing of the pet. Here are just a few of the top reasons from the pet’s standpoint:
    1. Spaying or neutering eliminates the possibility of your dog or cat getting ovarian/testicular cancer, or any other illness associated with the reproductive organs.
    2. Neutering males eliminates their overwhelming desire to mate when they catch the scent of a female in heat. When they catch that scent, they have a mission and one mission only–to find that female and mate with her. That causes them to dig under fences, tear down screen doors, run out in front of cars, and show aggression to anyone or anything that gets in their way.
    3. Spaying females eliminates spotting, yowling, and other physical behaviors associated with being in heat.
    4. Similarly, neutering males (when done early enough) eliminates their need so spray or mark their territory in your house and on your furniture.
    5. For both males and females, taking away the overpowering interest in mating makes them better pets for you–they care more about you than finding a mate.
    6. The biggest reason of all is that they are not producing puppies and kittens. You don’t have to find find homes for those puppies and kittens, take them to the vet, or take care of them until they are big enough to give away.

    Dogs and cats do not need the experience of having a litter. It is not joyful or fulfilling for them. It’s simply biological. You can get them spayed or neutered as early as 8 weeks. In fact, the younger they are, the more quickly they recover from the surgery.

    Similarly, dogs and cats are not romantic. They do not experience romantic love. We are not depriving them when we have them spayed or neutered. The love they feel is the love they have for their owner. Mating for them is simply biological, it is not romantic.

    Thanks for you comment and we will provide more blog posts on the benefits of spaying and neutering. Talk About It! Care. Adopt. Neuter.

  1. May 17, 2011 at 11:01 am

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