Bob Barker was quite the animal advocate back in the day during his time as host of “The Price is Right.”

Jerry Steinley, Resource Development Director

Sometime in the early 1980s he became a vocal supporter for animal rights and, at the same time, began ending his show with a simple message: “Help control the animal population, have your pet spayed or neutered.”

When Barker retired from The Price is Right in 2007, incoming host Drew Carey picked up the signature sign-off and continued what the folks here at the Humane Society of the Black Hills consider to be a fine use of television time.

How many people were prompted to spay and neuter their pets thanks to Barker’s simple message we can never know. One? Thirty? One thousand? Finally it doesn’t matter – each one counts. Each animal spayed or neutered is one that doesn’t contribute to the unfortunate reality of exploding animal populations.

Animal overpopulation is an issue nationwide and, yes, it’s an issue right here in our community. It’s estimated that somewhere around 8 million animals find themselves in shelters each year and up to 3 million never make it out of those shelters. The Humane Society accounts for about 4,500 animals of that 8 million and, sadly, some never make it out.

At the Humane Society of the Black Hills we’re fortunate to have a network of support for animals that includes the community, city government, the police department, civic groups, volunteers, and so many others. This network – each group or individual in his or her own way – is part of the solution to animal management in our communities. For instance, volunteers help socialize the animals readying them for adoption; civic groups help with large, seemingly impossible projects and make mole hills out of what we thought were mountains; and the city bolsters our mission with a supportive police department and ordinances that aim to manage animal populations without infringing on people’s different ways of life.

So while the animal population is being managed, there are simply too many animals for the families available.

The solution to this problem isn’t only to find 3 million more homes in the United States to put these animals in but rather to decrease the number of dogs and cats in the first place. So that’s where Barker’s message comes back in: “Help control the animal population, have your pet spayed or neutered.”

Locally, there are several people sharing this goal to see local animal population controlled through spay and neuter. There are neighborhoods actively participating in Trap/Neuter/Return programs, there are veterinarians offering spay and neuter, and there are programs to offer low cost services based on income such as SNIP it and Operation Pets. And then there are people like Trish who, after we ran a YouTube video of Bob Barker’s signature sign-off, commented: “I quote his line to people I know all the time!! lol”

It all makes a difference.

Until there’s a perfect harmony between the number of available families and the number of available pets, we’ll continue our mission to care for the lost, homeless and forgotten; we’ll continue to require all pets adopted be spayed or neutered; and, we’ll continue to support efforts to manage local animal populations.

So with a nod to Bob Barker, the Humane Society of the Black Hills reminds you to help control the animal population, have your pet spayed or neutered.

Have a comment for the Humane Society of the Black Hills? Something you would like to see addressed in a future column? Email the Resource Development Director at