Every year, millions of unwanted dogs and cats, including puppies and kittens, are needlessly euthanized. The good news is that every pet owner can help make a difference. By having your dog or cat surgically sterilized so it cannot reproduce, you will do your part to prevent the birth of unwanted puppies and kittens and can enhance your pet's health and quality of life. (For more information about spaying and neutering, see "Why You Should Spay or Neuter Your Pet")
When searching for someone to spay or neuter your pet, you may see ads or promotions for clinics that say they provide "low-cost" or "reduced-cost" spay/neuter services. In general, these clinics serve two purposes: one, they are part of a larger campaign to address pet overpopulation concerns and, two, they are meant to provide these surgeries for clients who cannot otherwise afford them. An important thing to keep in mind is that usually these clinics are run by not-for-profit or governmental agencies, and the costs for their services, equipment, time and supplies are often offset by donations, municipal funds, or another type of support. The subsidies allow them to offer the services at a lower cost for the pet owner, but the total cost to those operating the clinic is not really reduced. These clinics may limit the amount of postoperative care provided, encouraging you instead to follow up with your veterinarian.
Regardless of where you have your pet spayed or neutered, do some research first to make sure you're comfortable with the level of care your pet will receive. If possible, get a tour of the facility – including the surgery room. Ask about anesthesia – how it's done, as well as how your pet will be monitored while s/he is under anesthesia. Spay/neuter surgery requires general anesthesia, and anesthetized patients should be closely monitored for problems. If complications arise, they should be addressed quickly to ensure that your pet has the best chance for a full recovery. Regardless of where your pet is spayed or neutered, a veterinarian should make sure your pet is healthy enough for surgery, stays healthy throughout the surgery, is provided with appropriate pain control, and recovers from the surgery as well as it should. If any problems develop, your veterinarian is there to address them. Ask how your pet's pain will be controlled after surgery. Always make sure you're comfortable with the facility and the people who will care for your pet.