Last month we sterilised our 10000th Sri Lankan animal, a stunning achievement that has a huge impact on animal welfare but running a successful sterilisation campaign that makes a lasting difference is not just about the total of animals. Key factors in a spay neuter program include:

Location | to achieve a meaningful reduction in animal numbers we need to work in a concentrated area expanding slowly out and returning to catch animals we missed or who were too young. A scattergun effect whilst making a difference to individual animals will not make any reduction in total numbers and can weaken the case for sterilisation programs if opponents cannot see or measure a difference. If you neuter less than 70% of animals the population will still increase over a 5 year period.

Owned vs unowned | Surprisingly, street dog populations are not all about street dogs. Owned female animals that are healthier and have better access to resources will reproduce more successfully than a starving stray struggling to survive. An owned-dogs unwanted litter may be still strayed onto the streets, making her just as much as a problem as her roaming counterpart. In areas where only males are kept as pets, they are responsible for fathering puppies with roaming females and spreading sexually transmitted diseases.

Species | Dogstar sterilises both cats and dogs. In areas where a street dog problem has been reduced, the cat population can increase to an extent that a secondary overpopulation problem exists, reliving animal suffering for one species should not create a problem for another.

Gender | When tackling an overpopulation crisis, prioritizing owned females then roaming females over males gives the quickest reduction in numbers. But we believe in a holistic approach sterilizing owned and unowned male and female dogs. Excluding male dogs isolates owners of male animals from the program and relieves them of any responsibility. It means they are not exposed to messages about responsible ownership and animal welfare. Large numbers of unsterilised males fighting for any in-season females also lowers human tolerance of dogs.

So with the maths of a sterilisation program, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.