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by Abigail Van Buren

Small Percentage of Owners Account for Huge Pet Surplus

DEAR ABBY: The last time you mentioned SPAY/USA in your column, we received about 15,000 telephone calls in three weeks. SPAY/USA helps people locate veterinarians or programs with affordable spay-neuter services for cats and dogs. Because you printed the letter in the winter, before litter season, the births of several hundred thousand unwanted pups and kittens were prevented. Most of them would have ended up on the streets or in shelters -- not in permanent homes.

During 1999 we are making a special effort to reach people who are still resisting, still procrastinating, still not making the time or effort to get their cats and dogs to the vet to be spayed/neutered and vaccinated. Abby, if we can reach that hard-core 1 percent of pet owners, we can prevent the killing of 6 million surplus cats and dogs in this country.

Our campaign is called "Start Targeting One-Percenters" (S.T.O.P.). Readers who want to help -- or who have cats or dogs to "fix" -- can call (800) 248-SPAY (7729). Our phone counselors will give them information on the nearest participating vet, clinic or program. Thank you, Abby, for caring. -- ESTHER MECHLER, SPAY/USA, A PROGRAM OF THE PET-SAVERS FOUNDATION

DEAR ESTHER: The fact that only 1 percent of irresponsible pet owners are the cause of the destruction of 6 million innocent animals is certain to leave animal lovers aghast. Dogs and cats that are not intended for breeding should be spayed or neutered. This eliminates the risk of ovarian or testicular cancer, reduces the risk of prostate disorders, and eliminates the urge for the pet to wander and "mark its territory." Readers, spring is upon us, and with it, thousands of unwanted litters -- so please don't delay getting your pets spayed or neutered.