Dear 100 Hour Board,
When did neutering/spaying your cat or dog become common in the US? Was it considered a luxury when the option became available, or were most surgeries affordable?
Dear Shannon Leto,
Here's a brief history of neutering/spaying. Since household pets became a thing around the time of World War II, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the Humane Society have become leading authorities in caring for stray domestic animals. Along with that came the role of domestic animal population control; more pets meant more stray pets which was becoming a growing problem.
As a result, since the 1960's, the ASPCA has encouraged owners to spay/neuter their pets so that less animals would have to be euthanized. They also performed free operations for owners who couldn't afford it. Then in the 1970's, the ASPCA began to push for mandatory sterilization for adopted animals. Today, pet owners in the United States are not universally required to spay/neuter their pet, but it is strongly recommended and often required. For example, in Utah, people who adopt an animal from a shelter must sterilize or promise to sterilize their pet.
From what I read, I didn't get any indication that sterilization surgeries were a luxury, but it does seem like it took some time to catch on.
P.S. If you're interested in celebrating World Spay Day, it's been held every year on the last Tuesday of February since 1995. Exciting stuff.