Originally Posted by CharmsDad
Any facility providing a sterilization for $15 would have to have heavy subsidation from outside sources since that would not come close to covering the cost of providing the services (disposables, licenses, equipment, personnel, utilities, facilities, etc.) Generally low cost programs are in the $50-$100 range with standard vet rates at least double that amount (with regional variations.)
As for the cost of rabies vaccine, it is considered a controlled substance and, while there are some variations from state to state, it typically is not available to the general public. North Carolina is fairly typical, and possession of rabies vaccine by anyone other than a vet or a licensed rabies vaccinator is a criminal offense. (Licensed rabies vaccinators must be associated with a facility such as a shelter and must be individually approved by the local public health director. They then have to go through a course provided by the state. An individual rescuer or rescue group would not meet the standard criteria to get a license.) Having a rabies vaccine administered through a county program runs from $5 to $8.
I absolutely do not agree with your cost analysis and your "poof" statement demonstrates a lack of understanding of both long term cost containment and the reality of cash flow issues (generally a major concern with individual rescuers). All to often well meaning but inexperienced individuals let their ideology overwhelm the need for a realistic and practical approach to an issue.
Well, first off, you're really jumping to conclusions by referring to me as "inexperienced". You don't know me or my credentials.
Alley Cat Allies' past newsletters have stated that $30 will pay for full vet care for one male and one female cat at their clinic. My understanding is that this clinic operates with donated space that serves as a full-service vet clinic the rest of the time and all the vets and techs volunteer their time too. This is the same basic model that is used by groups such as Operation Catnip, AZ Cats, and many others. It is neither unique nor unrealistic.
You're right that a vet has to administer the rabies vaccine but I don't see what your point is. A vet also has to be the one to sterilize the animals. Obviously the vet isn't making money off the $5 low-cost rabies vaccine so if you can get a vet to either volunteer or work for a flat hourly rate for something like this, there is no reason whatsoever why the same model cannot and should not be applied to spay/neuter.
And you didn't respond to my point about one vaccinated but unsterilized cat giving birth to two or three litters of unvaccinated kittens per year. There's no way that it is cheaper or even remotely practical to manage the potential threat of rabies in outdoor cat populations by vaccinating without sterilizing simply because you will have to go back repeatedly and vaccinate those cats' offspring, and their offspring, etc, etc.
Furthermore, from a public health standpoint companion animal overpopulation is a very significant issue in itself. The risk of animal bites, for instance, go up exponentially as animal overpopulation increases. And there are other zoonotic diseases to deal with as well - things like toxoplasmosis. While I certainly do not claim that feral cats pose a significant public health hazard, the bottom line is that public health is promoted by a stable, fully vaccinated free-roaming cat population. And common sense will tell you that a population of unsterilized cats is inherently unstable, and an unstable population is going to be difficult if not impossible to keep fully vaccinated.