If the pen is mightier than the sword, why do I feel like I need a lasso and a couple of six-shooters to get people in here to neuter their pets?

I write about the benefits of spay and neuter all the time. I write about how convenient and affordable the surgery is through the SPCA. I write about our state-of-the-art clinic and top-notch staff.

So why isnít sterilizing your pet catching on as fast as we want it to? Why isnít the clinic busting at the seams with hoards of pets coming in to get ďfixedĒ? Why havenít we solved the pet overpopulation problem yet?

For one thing, I am preaching to the choir.

Sure, there are a ton of people reading this article. Some of them actually read the article every week. I know because, bless them, they tell me how they really loved the article about mixed breeds or heartworm positive dogs or cat allergies.

Iím really appreciative that they enjoy the articles (Thanks Jennifer, Marty, Kim, David, etc.!), but it doesnít surprise me that they are the ones sending the compliments. These people are people who are already engaged in animal welfare in some shape or form. Plus, despite his own contributions to animal welfare, David has to read my articles because heís married to me (there will be a quiz later, Boo).

Just once (more frequently would be great, too!) Iíd like to hear someone say, ďHey! I read your article. I didnít know 599 out of every 600 pit bulls that are born are euthanized in shelters. I was planning on breeding mine, but you changed my mind.Ē

Or ďI didnít realize until I read your article that neutering my dog could increase his life expectancy. Sign me up!Ē

Perhaps, ďIíve been putting off spaying my dog because I have other financial obligations right now. Then I read what you wrote about how affordable sterilization can be and here we are!Ē

But, no. I donít feel like these articles are reaching the people that need to hear them most. Of course, the SPCA Clinic is busier than ever, so maybe Iím wrong. But just in case Iím not, I need some good ideas regarding reaching the seemingly unreachable.

There is valuable information out there about what doesnít work, but hardly any about what does. From a marketing standpoint, people who believe in sterilization of pets, for the most part, find the risquť ads about neutering to be funny and on point (For example: ďThe only balls he needs are the ones he fetches.Ē) People who are not engaged in spay and neuter efforts are repulsed.

The ads (and articles like mine) that educate seem to go unnoticed by the segment of the population whose attention we so desperately need.

Until last week, I felt like stricter ordinances about spaying and neutering pets might be the only way to get the job done. Then I got a very informative article from Linda Vola that put everything I thought into question.

The article pointed out that mandatory spay and neuter laws donít actually increase sterilization or decrease shelter intake, and, in many cases, people would be less likely to even get vaccinations for their pets because it would put them in jeopardy of getting a citation for having intact pets.

Man, oh, man. What can we do? I and many of us in this industry are looking for answers and feel our best efforts have been exhausted. Certainly the intake numbers have come down, which is encouraging, but we are still not where we need to be. How can we get there?

So come on, you choir of rescuers, animal welfare advocates, cruelty prosecutors and plain, old pet lovers that are reading: Start thinking! What can we do to collaborate on this mission? How can we reach the folks we need to reach, encourage them to do the right thing and convince them that it is easy and affordable? Send your ideas, creativity and experience to development@LetLoveLive.org.

Better yet, send us your neighbors, if they havenít gotten their pets fixed yet. We can hook them up with surgery for as low as $15 depending on what sort of supplemental funding is available. Even at full-price, itís reasonable, and itís the right thing to do. But you already know that.

The SPCA, 199 Willow Run Road, is a private organization dedicated to helping animals that are homeless find homes, providing animals that are abused, sick or in need with shelter and medical care, and promoting the ideal that the unfailing love and devotion from an animal should be valued by all.

A graduate of Winthrop University in Rock Hill, Chrissey Miller has a bachelorís degree in fine arts and is a certified animal welfare administrator. She is thrilled to be able to mesh her creative passion and sales experience together now as development director, in charge of programming, fundraising, events, marketing and grant-writing. Chrissey and her husband David live in Aiken with their children Blair and Gracey, and their adopted dog, Zipper and Django.