Fun fancy dress was used this week in the US to spread a serious message about neutering cats and dogs.

Representatives from the Washington DC branch of the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals greeted visitors to Harrisburg's Strawberry Square to hand out leaflets about unwanted pets, reported.

However, to ensure they attracted plenty of attention to their cause, they sported brightly-coloured condom fancy dress costumes.

Leandria Campbell, one of the campaigners who donned the unusual outfits, said she wants to raise awareness of the fact that millions of cats and dogs have to be put down every year because too many are born for shelters to cope with.

"It's a fun, silly way to get the message across," she added.

According to the RSPCA, neutering is recommended for dogs, cats and other small animals such as rabbits - but it doesn't tend to involve them using latex contraception.