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Shelters and rescue groups have long offered low-cost spay/neuter surgeries in hopes of making a dent on the homeless pet population. It's hard to measure the effect of these programs, but a new focused initiative is hoping to increase the impact.
Last month the ASPCA launched a first-of-its-kind program that uses a geographic information system to focus on New York City neighborhoods with high abandonment rates . Residents in those areas are now being offered low- or no-cost spay/neuter surgeries. The current neighborhoods are Manhattan's Lower East Side and East Harlem.
To measure the effectiveness of the program, the ASPCA is collecting data to compare the number of abandoned pets in the targeted neighborhoods before and after the program. This study will also be one of the first to look at actual numbers instead of relying on anecdotal evidence.
It looks like there will be many more of these types of programs in the near future. PetSmart Charities is offering grants for focused spay/neuter programs  and is currently accepting applications.
For all of those who live outside of targeted areas, there are many low cost programs available all over the country. The ASPCA maintains a database of programs on their website .