The P.E.I. Humane Society has issued an unusual and unsettling public advisory: do not attempt to castrate pets at home.
The society issued the advisory Tuesday on social media, following a suspected case this week.
"A lot of people are very shocked that we even had to make the announcement," said Ashley Travis, communications coordinator at the P.E.I. Humane Society.
"If it's not a veterinarian or a veterinary technician overseeing the procedure, it's very highly dangerous," she said.
It's also potentially illegal. The humane society said home castration of an animal could lead to charges under the Animal Welfare Act.
Animal welfare officers are now investigating the suspected case earlier this week that prompted the public advisory. Shelter staff found evidence of a possible castration attempt on an animal that was taken to the shelter.
Travis said the humane society has seen several suspected cases so far this year — more than usual — involving dogs, cats and other species.
"What we are seeing is more and more people a little bit defending the practice, saying 'This is the way it used to be done,'" she said.
"We don't uphold this practice and we remind them that it is illegal on P.E.I."
Shelter officials acknowledge that the cost of veterinary care may be one possible factor that contributes to incidents of home castration.
Lower cost spay and neuter services may become available in coming months, said Travis. Until then, she said animal owners should discuss options for spay and neuter services with their veterinarian.
"Our doors are open for opportunities if someone wants to connect with us."
Travis said reaction was swift and strong on social media to Tuesday's advisory.
"A lot of people are appalled and just disgusted with the fact that it even needed to be said."