The Truth about Spay and Neuter

The truth is that getting your pet spayed or neutered can save countless lives. On average 64% of animals taken to shelters nationwide have to be euthanized. The numbers are staggering. One estimate is that between 10 and 12 million pets are euthanized because of lack of available homes. Purebreds account for nearly 30% of the animals in shelters. Everyday 70,000 puppies and kittens are born in the country while only 10,000 people are born. The math is simple. There will never be enough homes for all of these animals at this rate.

I often hear that families want to witness the miracle of birth and promote breeding just once for this reason. Puppies and kittens are usually born at night in seclusion so children are not likely to even see a birth. I would suggest that a visit to an area shelter is more educational to see the tragic results of overpopulation. It should be explained to children that preventing the birth of some pets can save lives of others. Animals should not be discarded and the real miracle is life itself. Medical evidence refutes the claim that having a litter makes a better pet. Females getting spayed before their first heat or estrous cycle are healthier. Even diseases like breast cancer can be prevented in your pet.

“Brutus is a purebred and has papers a mile long” is a rather common line. I hate to say it, but at least one in four animals at the shelter is a purebred. There are just too many dogs and cats – mixed breed and purebred period. Promoting breeding will only add to the situation and teaches that animals can be discarded. Everybody lives cute little adorable puppies and kittens and it is true that they strum at your heart strings. You may even be able to find homes for all of your pets litter, but each home found means one less home for an animal in need at a shelter. The crisis of pet overpopulation is created and perpetuated one litter at a time.

Spaying and neutering does not affect a dog’s natural instinct to protect home and family. In fact genetics and environment form a personality more than sex hormones. Pets do not have any concept of sexual identity or ego either. Often pet owners feel that neutering will somehow make a pet feel less male. Don’t worry, “Rascal” will not suffer any kind of emotional reaction or identity crisis when neutered. He will however be less likely to roam, bite, scratch, fight, mark territory and develop testicular cancer. So the decision seems simple. Now there are alternatives to surgical castration for sterilization. Advances in research have developed a sterilization technique in male dogs that requires only an injection. Work is being done to develop the same for females.

The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International have organized an annual event February 23 to inspire people to save animal lives by spaying and neutering pets and feral animals. In the island nations of Samoa and American Samoa, a United States territory, the situation is dire. Since there are no veterinary services the pets have bred and multiplied uncontrolled. Overwhelming numbers of feral dogs roam the streets, marauding and spreading disease. In an effort to help our Samoan brothers Bend Veterinary Clinic has joined forces with Animal Balance and local ASPCA organizations to tackle the problem in a sustainable way. We continue to participate in sterilization campaigns to capture feral dogs and humanely sterilize them.

You personally can make a difference by spaying and neutering your pet. Do your part to stop the tragedy of pet overpopulation now. For more information about Spay Day you can visit the Humane Society of the United States website.