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Free Spay & Neuter Program

Information about the free spay and neuter program.

Cat - Spay NeuterThe City of Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department offers free spay or neuter services for the cats and dogs of low-income and moderate-income Albuquerque residents. Surgeries are offered on Tuesday through Friday at the East Side Animal Shelter Veterinary Clinic Only. There also is a voucher program that can pay for surgeries at participating private veterinary clinics. Details about the times, qualifications and services are provided below, among the answers to frequently asked questions.

View our list of available spay and neuter resources.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I care about spaying or neutering my pets?

Every year, thousands of animals are born into short lives of suffering and death in Albuquerque because people did not spay or neuter their pets. There are simply not enough homes for the dogs and cats that are born because of this type of neglect.

Spaying and neutering provide health benefits in addition to preventing litters. Spaying helps prevent uterine infection and breast cancer, which is fatal in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Neutering can prevent testicular cancer if done before 6 months of age. Neutering also reduces roaming, and nuisances such as foul odors in spraying by cats. It can reduce aggressiveness and fighting among both dogs and cats.

Under most circumstances, it is against the law in Albuquerque to own a dog or cat unless you have it spayed or neutered. There are programs that can provide the services at no charge for low-income and moderate-income residents. There also are programs that will help you arrange for the free spay and neuter of the street cats in your neighborhood, to help control the cat population while providing humane treatment of the animals.

Free Spay & Neutering Qualifications

How do I qualify for the free spay or neuter of my pets?

Qualification is based on:

  • Residence within the City of Albuquerque
  • Total household income


  • Pet owners under 18 years of age
  • Any pet weighing less than 3 pounds
  • Pets over 5 years of age *If your pet is a Pitbull, Chihuahua, or cat of any age, please contact us if you are seeking spay or neuter. The offspring of these pets are most at risk of ending up in our shelter and we will try to help all citizens with these pets to find a spay/neuter option.
  • Aggressive animals
  • Any animal assessed by the City veterinarian as a surgical risk

Other issues:

  • For information about sterilizing the unowned street cats in your neighborhood, contact  Street Cat Hub, (505) 247-9357. The group is well versed in where to get traps, how to use them, where to take the cats for sterilization and what to do afterward.

What are the income guidelines for the city program?

The program is offered to those who do not exceed the moderate-income level for their family size. Participants are classified as low income and moderate income in accordance with city law. The income figures are derived from federal guidelines for Albuquerque.

Annual Gross Income Limits
Family Size Low Income Moderate Income
1 $21,700 $34,650
2 $24,800 $39,600
3 $27,900 $44,550
4 $30,950 $49,500
5 $33,450 $53,500
6 $35,950 $57,450
7 $38,400 $61,400
8 $40,900 $65,350

Do I need to qualify to receive spay or neuter services?

Yes. You must qualify as low-income or moderate-income to receive free spay or neuter, vaccine, and microchip services. Proof of qualification is required at the time you drop off your pet.

What if I don't reside in Albuquerque?

Please refer to the CABQ website or your local city or county government for other options.

Can I bring my proof of income when I pick up my pet?

No. Proof must be presented at check-in or services will not be rendered.

What would prove low-income status?

  • Award letter for an EBT card issued by the State of New Mexico for Food Stamps, OR
  • Either the annual letter regarding benefits or the monthly benefit card for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), OR
  • Award letter for an EBT card issued by the State of New Mexico for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, OR
  • Award letter for a Medicaid health benefit card, OR
  • Current income taxes
  • Current check stubs
  • Signing and submitting an affidavit swearing that your income is within the figures listed on the table above for Low Income

What would be proof of moderate-income status?

Signing and submitting an affidavit swearing that your income is within the figures listed on the table above for Moderate Income

How do I obtain the free spay or neuter services?

For qualified low-income and moderate-income citizens of Albuquerque:

  • For DOGS weighing under 50 pounds who have no medical issues and CATS with no medical issues:
    • Please call 311
    • Animal Welfare will return your call to schedule an appointment for your pets surgery within 30 business days
    • Surgeries are provided by appointment ONLY on Tuesday through Friday at the East Side Animal Shelter Veterinary Clinic ONLY.
    • Surgery patient drop-off time: Cats - 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., dogs 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. "East Side Clinic Only"
    • Proof of qualifications including ID, proof of residence, and proof of income eligibility MUST be presented at drop off or the services will not be rendered.
    • Surgery patient PICKUP is from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
    • If you fail to pick up your pet(s), they will be kept overnight. Overnight fees will apply and must be paid before your pet will be released to you.
  • For DOGS weighing 50 pounds or more or those with medical issues, a voucher program is available. If you meet the income requirements, you may be provided with a voucher that will allow you to schedule spay or neuter surgery at a participating private veterinary clinic.
    • Please call 311
    • Animal Welfare will return your call to schedule an appointment for your pet's evaluation within 30 business days.
    • You need to bring your dog to your appointment and it will need to be on a leash.  The dog will be evaluated by a Veterinarian or Veterinarian Assistant before a voucher will be issued.
    • Vouchers are subject to veterinary decisions about the condition of the dog.
    • Vouchers surgeries are performed at private veterinary clinics who are partnering with AWD. Citizens may incur additional costs not covered by AWD, including additional charges for surgery, antibiotics, or testing.  AWD cannot cover these costs; they are the responsibility of the citizen who owns the animal receiving surgery.

Citizens are reminded that the City of Albuquerque Free Spay/Neuter services are for City of Albuquerque residents ONLY. If you reside outside the city limits in Bernalillo County, you may obtain a free spay/neuter voucher by visiting the Bernalillo County Animal Control Office at 1136 Gatewood SW, Albuquerque, NM 87121.

What will be done for my pet?

Sterilization surgery, a rabies vaccination if the pet is old enough, an upper respiratory vaccination for cats, a parvo/distemper vaccination for dogs, a microchip implant, and free microchip registration.

What do I need to know before I bring a pet to the clinic for surgery?

  • Each cat MUST come in its own carrier; if you bring two cats, bring two carriers
  • Each pet will be examined by a veterinarian prior to surgery. If your pet is sick or considered a surgical risk, surgery will not be performed.
  • Do not feed your pet after 9 p.m. the night before surgery
  • Give your pet water all night long

What if I found a stray cat and I have been feeding it, but I am not sure I want to keep it?

Call Street Cat Hub, (505) 247-9357.

What do I need to bring with me?

  • Driver's license or official ID card
  • Proof of low-income or moderate-income status, unless you sign and submit an affidavit swearing that your income is within the figures listed on the table above for low income or moderate income.
  • Proof of vaccines within the past year if you do not want your pet revaccinated. Proof is a rabies certificate, not a pet health record.
  • An alternate contact number for the microchip registration: someone who has a different phone number than yours. If your pet is already microchipped, please tell us.
  • If someone else is going to drop off or pick up your pet, they will need a driver's license or official ID, AND they will need a signed and dated letter of authorization from you. For example: “I, (your name), authorize (your friend's name) to transport my pet (your pet's name) to and from AWD for spay or neuter surgery on (the date).”

I qualify, but I don't drive. Are there any options for me?


  • Have someone pick up a paperwork package for you at any AWD location.
  • Fill out the paperwork in advance (the package must be filled out properly to be valid).
  • Have a friend, neighbor, or relative transport your paperwork, your ID, your proof of income, and your pet.
  • Provide this person with a signed letter of permission authorizing them to transport your pet. For example: “I, (your name), authorize (your friend's name) to transport my pet (your pet's name) to and from AWD for spay or neuter surgery on (the date).” They must present an ID so we know we are releasing your pet to the proper person.

Completing your paperwork early will shorten your check-in time! We encourage everyone to do this!

How do I find the clinic?

  • Animal Welfare Department East Side Animal Shelter
  • 8920 Lomas NE (between Wyoming and Eubank on the south side of Lomas)
  • Turn south from Lomas onto Herndon, just east of the Hyundai auto dealership
  • The veterinary clinic is the north door (on your left as you face the building)

What are the general hours of the clinic?

  • Surgery patient drop-off: Cats - 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., Dogs - 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. -  EAST SIDE CLINIC ONLY
  • Surgery patient pick-up: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. EAST SIDE CLINIC ONLY
  • Rabies vaccine clinics: (for ADOPTED ANIMALS ONLY) 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. every Wednesday and Thursday at both East Side and West Side locations. These clinics are not open to the general public, but are intended for animals that were too young for rabies vaccinations at the time they were adopted from the Animal Welfare Department.
  • Recheck appointments: (for post-operative complications within 10 days of surgery IF they occur) 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week at the EAST SIDE CLINIC ONLY.

Following surgery, my pet's incision has become infected. What should I do?

Recheck appointments are available if any post-operative complications occur within 10 days of surgery. These can be evaluated by a veterinarian Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the EAST SIDE CLINIC ONLY. If a post-operative complication occurs outside of these hours, you may contact the clinic at 764-1156 or you may refer to your spay/neuter release paperwork regarding emergency services provided at Route 66 Veterinary Clinic here in town.

 What other low-cost spay or neuter services are available?

 Animal Humane New Mexico 

  • spay or neuter services are offered to qualified low-income clients by appointment only.
  • Costs for cats are $25 for males and $35 for females.
    Costs for dogs are $50 to $100 based on weight and gender.
  • Proof of income and a picture ID are required at pre-surgical exam ($19)
  • All sources of income must be provided for every member of the household.
  • Payment is due at time of drop off.
  • Please withhold food from your pet after 10 pm the night before surgery; leave water available all night.

 Street Cat Hub

(505) 247-9357

Offers help with trapping and surgeries for unowned street cats

Bernalillo Co. SNAP program
(505) 314-0280

Reduced fees for low income families in the unincorporated areas of Bernalillo County, maximum of 2 pets.

Spay or Neuter License Plates

Money from the sale of New Mexico's spay-neuter license plates subsidizes spay or neuter services and can help counties prevent euthanasia of healthy animals.

Like all special license plates, the plates must be ordered from the Motor Vehicle Department (MVD). Order forms can be obtained from MVD offices. Read more about specialty plates on the MVD website.