Spaying and neutering your animals: Responsible pet care – Part 4

We love them, but there are too many of them, and because of that, millions of them suffer. For every pet with a home, another four are homeless, abandoned, neglected, abused, or destroyed. We can change that.

Ten million unwanted animals are euthanized yearly, and countless more die less humane deaths. In the United States, more than 70,000 puppies and kittens are born each day, compared to 10,000 human births. To keep pace with pet overpopulation, each family of four would have to own 28 pets. In just six years, one female dog and its offspring can be the source of 67,000 puppies. In just seven years, one female cat and its young can produce a staggering 420,000 cats. Each year more than $5,000,000 taxpayer dollars are spent on animal control problems.

The answer? Spay and neuter our pets. Many people don’t. Let’s take a look at why:.

– “My pet is a purebred.” While it’s easier to place purebred offspring in homes, one out of four dogs and cats in humane societies nationwide is a papered purebred. There are too many mixed breed and purebred pets, and any kind of breeding contributes to overpopulation.

– “My pet will become fat and lazy.” Pets become overweight and lazy because they’re overfed and under-exercised. Spaying and neutering have no effect on weight or activity level.

– “My pet should have one litter first.” Medical research shows that just the opposite is true. For example, when females are spayed before their first heat, they are typically healthier and not prey to a number of diseases, including several kinds of cancer. Veterinarians recommend that pets should be spayed and neutered before 6 months of age.

– “I’ll find good homes for all the kittens/puppies.” While you may place all of the animals in homes, you are taking away potential homes for other homeless pets. There simply aren’t enough good homes to go around.

– “If I neuter my dog he won’t be protective.” Neutering and spaying do not alter a dog’s natural instinct to protect his home and family. They can, however, eliminate uncalled-for aggressiveness, nuisance barking, roaming, and fighting.

– “I want my children to witness the miracle of birth.'” Consider teaching children about birth using books, videos, classes, and farms. Letting pets have offspring contributes to overpopulation, and the lesson we inadvertently teach our children is that pets are dispensable. Consider teaching children that the quality of an animal’s life counts, and that by preventing births we are saving the lives of other pets.

– “Pets shouldn’t be denied their sex drive.” Veterinarians and other animal experts agree that the sexuality of cats and dogs is biological rather than psychological. When spayed and neutered, pets don’t feel any need to reproduce and are generally more content, calmer, and obedient.

– “Spaying and neutering are too expensive.” Animal shelters as well as many veterinarians offer low-cost spaying and neutering services. Spay or neuter surgery is a one-time cost that is relatively small compared to its benefits.

Spaying and neutering are good for both pets and pet owners. Spayed and neutered pets live longer, healthier lives. They aren’t as likely to roam and be hit by cars or lost. They are more affectionate companions, and are less likely to bite and to spray and mark their territory. Perhaps most importantly, spaying and neutering reduces the number of pets that live out their lives hungry and homeless.

Pet overpopulation is perpetuated one litter at a time. The choice is ours.

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