Monday was the second year anniversary of the ASPCA's "Operation Pit."
As part of "Operation Pit," all New Yorkers are encouraged to bring their pits in to the ASPCA's Upper East Side animal hospital to be spayed and neutered — free of charge.
The program offers the free service to any healthy pitbull or pitbull mix between the ages of three months and six years, as experts say that's the breed most at risk to be euthanized.
“[Pitbulls] grow into big strong dogs that require a lot of exercise; they're not portable if you're moving and they have large litters. When people realize that they can’t take care of them they’ll take them to a shelter,” explained Dr. Louise Murray, vice president of ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital.
Since launching "Operation Pit" in 2010, the ASPCA has fixed more than 1,300 pitbulls free of charge. Spaying or neutering the dogs is a procedure that can normally cost between $150 to $350 or more, depending on the veterinarian.
For Veronica Lopez, 32, the free spay was a blessing.
“My vet was going to charge me $500,” said Lopez, who took a taxi down from the Bronx with her 4-year old pit, Timbs. “A friend recommended this place, so of course I came.”
In addition to preventing unwanted pups, the entire appointment includes a full physical for the dogs, life-saving vaccines, and microchipping.
“We’re recruiting [these dogs] into a life-saving mission,” said Murray. “They are honorable soldiers and when they’re done it’s like they’re graduating.”
Sure enough, before they go home each pup receives a camouflage handkerchief and a post-operative “honorable discharge" for completing the "mission."
ASPCA offers the free spay or neuter to any pitbulls or pitbull mixes at Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital on 92nd Street by appointment every weekday. The service is also available at the ASPCA Spay/Neuter Clinic in Queens on select Sundays. Call (877) 900-PITS to schedule a free appointment.
According to animal advocacy groups, pitbulls make up 33 percent of all the dogs taken in by animal shelters nationwide. But in big cities like New York that number can be as high as 65 percent.
Above, Dr. Louise Murray with 4-month-old Foxy.
Some studies estimate that up to 1 million pitbulls are euthanized per year in the U.S. That's 2,800 pitbulls put to sleep per day. Other estimates say that number is even higher.
An estimated 35,000 pitbulls are available for adoption.