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Wayne Pacelle

Wayne Pacelle

Posted: February 22, 2011 04:14 PM

Today is the 17th annual Spay Day -- a worldwide event organized by The HSUS and Humane Society International, in partnership with the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association -- to promote sterilization of dogs and cats as a means of reducing euthanasia and pet overpopulation.

Throughout the month of February, more than 700 Spay Day events are taking place all across the United States and in nearly 50 other countries (find an event near you). These events are centered on providing free or low-cost spay/neuter surgeries and veterinary care, raising funds for these life-saving programs, and educating the public about the importance of spaying and neutering.

Here are some highlights of events that have already taken place.

The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association worked with veterinary students and feral cat organizations in Oregon and Wisconsin to fix free-roaming cats -- providing an important service to the community while training students to perform these surgeries.

This past weekend in New York City, we were proud to join the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals and the ASPCA to host the I Love NYC Pets Month's Spay Day event. The event offered more than 100 free spay/neuter surgeries through the ASPCA's mobile clinics, free vaccinations and microchips, local pets available for adoption, 5,000 pounds of free pet food donated by Freekibble.com, and giveaways of pet supplies.

In all, more than 1 million pets have been spayed or neutered in conjunction with Spay Day since legendary performer Doris Day founded it in 1995. Here are a few ways you can be a part of the solution on Spay Day and beyond:

- Enter your pet in the Spay Day Online Pet Photo Contest by this Friday, Feb. 25 at 5 p.m. Eastern. Donations to vote for your pet will raise funds for your choice of nearly 300 participating animal welfare organizations. The contest, presented by Zazzle and judged by professional photographers Robert B. Haas, Amanda Jones, and Lori A. Cheung, is free to enter and you could also win great prizes. (Though of course I'm not in the running for prizes, my cat Mungo would love it if you sent her some votes here.)

- If you haven't already, spay or neuter your dog, cat, or rabbit and encourage everyone you know to do the same. Our website offers more information about why this procedure is so essential and debunks some of the common misconceptions about spaying and neutering.

- Check out the special Spay Day-themed MUTTS™ comic strip created by HSUS board member Patrick McDonnell, running today in newspapers nationwide.

-You can help feral cats in your community by getting involved with trap-neuter-return programs. Feral cats, the offspring of lost and abandoned pet cats or other feral cats, are not accustomed to contact with people and are typically too fearful to be handled.

With the help of pet owners and communities, we can work to end pet overpopulation and save animals' lives.

This post originally appeared on Pacelle's blog, A Humane Nation.