Why Spay and Neuter?

Too many homeless, hopeless animals…

Of the more than 30 million puppies and kittens born in the U.S. each year, only one in 10 finds a permanent home. The rest die of cruelty, starvation, disease, poisoning, or accidents, or they end up in a shelter. Nationally less than 35% of shelter animals are adopted. Some 6 to 8 million adoptable dogs and cats were euthanized last year. The primary causes of this tragedy: people who fail to have their pets spayed or neutered, and who abandon or give up pets because of lack of commitment to training the pet.

Sterilization of companion animals is the key to reducing this tragedy. Communities that have established sterilization programs have seen the number of pets euthanized drop by 30 to 60%.

Advantages for you and your pet

* Neutered/spayed pets are less aggressive, less likely to fight, and less likely to bite, as documented in studies.

* Neutered/spayed pets (especially males) are less territorial and less likely to roam. Research indicates that 80% of dogs hit by cars are unaltered males.

* Neutered pets are less likely to mark furniture and rugs with urine.

* Spayed females will not have heat cycles that soil rugs and furniture and usually shed less fur.

* Neutered pets can’t develop testicular tumors, the second most common malignancy in males, and have a lower incidence of prostate cancer, which is better for your pet and means lower medical bills.

* Spayed females typically stay healthier and live longer. They have a lower incidence of mammary tumors and no uterine or ovarian cancers, which is better for your pet and means lower medical bills.

* Sterilization does not change the pet’s personality or cause weight gain.

* Removing the urge to mate focuses more of a pet’s attention on the caregiver, aiding in training. Sterilized pets behave better.

Special Commentary: Doesn’t your family dog deserve better?

The price to obtain a dog runs the gamut from free-to-a-good-home to several thousand dollars. It’s not always true that you get what you pay for.

The price you pay in a pet shop is usually two to three times higher than what you pay a reputable breeder for a puppy of similar (or usually better) quality.

Too many folks spend all their available cash on a pet shop purchase and then have no money left for initial veterinary care, a training crate or obedience classes—all necessary expenses.

Remember, the purchase price of a dog is a very small part of what the dog will actually cost.

Save money for food, especially if it is a large or giant breed, grooming (fancy breeds like Poodles, Cockers, and Shih Tzus need to be clipped every 4 to 6 weeks); chew toys (the vigorous chewers like a Bull Terrier or Mastiff can work their way through a $8 rawhide bone in a single sitting.), outerwear (short-coated breeds like Greyhounds, Chihuahuas, and Whippets must have sweaters and coats in the winter or in lavishly air conditioned interiors.), and miscellaneous supplies like bowls, beds, brushes, shampoos, flea products,
odor neutralizers for accidents, baby gates, leashes, collars, heartworm preventative, and other needs.

Pet owners must also save money for veterinary emergencies. Very few dogs live their entire lives without at least one accident. Your puppy eats a battery or pair of pantyhose, your fine-boned toy breaks a leg, your big boy has bad hips, your dog gets hit by a car or beaten or bitten by the neighborhood bully. These surprises can cost $500 or more. Unlike our children, most of our dogs are not covered by health insurance.

But dog ownership is not only a question of money.

How much time and energy can you spend on a new dog? Various breeds and ages of dogs require different demands on a pet owner’s time. In general, the sporting, hounds, herding, and terrier breeds will demand more time in training and daily exercise than the guardian or companion breeds need.

A puppy or adolescent will need more exercise, training, and supervision than an adult dog.

And the first year with any new dog, regardless of age or breed type, will put more demands on the owner than any other time, for this is when you are setting up house rules and routines which will last for the lifetime of your dog.

America has become a nation of disposable pet owners. Doesn’t your family dog deserve better?

Choose wisely, for when the bond breaks, everybody concerned suffers. Make selecting your new family dog a life-affirming act.

(Jacque Lynn Schultz, C.P.D.T., Companion Animal Programs Adviser, National Outreach)