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February is Spay/ Neuter month

Let me tell you a true story: Once a client called and asked for an appointment to have her dog “hoed”. The patient receptionist said, “Do you mean spayed?” The client replied, “That’s right; I knew it was one of those garden tools!”

Here’s another true story: I worked for years with a wonderful humane society in New York state. Along with my duties of providing health-care for shelter animals, I was asked to assist the employees who took a class on euthanasia with their grim duty. Once a week, animals had to be selected for euthanasia to make room for those strays coming in from county dog control. Envision a small room with a table, a vet, a technician and a pile of previously healthy but now dead dogs (or cats if you prefer). Then, if that’s not bad enough, picture placing them into the incinerator for group cremation. That’s the memory I have to share with those who delay spaying and neutering. Interesting fact: it takes about twice as much euthanasia solution to kill a healthy animal as an old one who is ready to go.
It’s the horrific truth about a shelter that was truly a wonderful humane society. It raised funds to build its own spay/neuter clinic on the premises so that all adopted animals would be “fixed” before leaving. The shelter’s goal was not to recycle animals or to receive litters from well-meaning adopters back for adoption. Puppy classes were offered there in the Humane Education Center because good dogs are less likely to end up back at the shelter. Stray dogs were reunited with their owners or rehabilitated into wonderful appreciative companions. This shelter is now a “no-kill” shelter, which means space for incoming animals is only available when one is adopted. This is much more palatable, yet I have seen animal rescuers going from shelter to shelter finding no room for adoptable animals. Try finding room at a shelter for a springtime litter of kittens! Thank heavens for foster homes and pet stores who adopt shelter animals.
I acknowledge the information about hormones and healthy development, I acknowledge reputable breeders, and I acknowledge the health benefits and risks of not neutering. I still support spaying and neutering for every pet owner. The exponential effect of one accidental litter is undeniable if you have taken 5th grade math. ”We will get her fixed after her first litter” does not cut it with me. Will you require that all her offspring will be neutered, and how can you assure that this will happen?
Can you tell I have strong feelings on this subject? I have heard all the excuses in the book, but what happens behind closed doors is all our problem if we truly love animals. Until the shelters start to run out of animals to adopt, I will support spaying and neutering. There are too many good dogs and cats waiting for homes, to support purchase from puppy mills and backyard breeders. I have seen plenty of purebred dogs which have been discarded by their owners, including my own (neutered) German Shepherd. There are rescue organizations for every breed you want, and especially the Pitt Bull breed which has experienced such horribly irresponsible breeding practices.
I hope I have not offended reputable breeders, for this description assumes that you are not contributing to this problem, but are seeking to preserve and improve your breed. In fact, I am preaching to the choir, because you would not be reading this if you did not really care about animals! Just remember and support Spay/ Neuter month and World Spay day, the 4th Tuesday in February. Maybe offer to pay for someone to get their pet spayed this month or lend a helping hand to an animal shelter. Don’t support stores that sell puppies and kittens from questionable sources at exorbitant prices. This just encourages impulse buying and plants the idea that breeding is a profitable business. Become a foster home. Put your spare change in the shelter donation jar. Maybe do a program on responsible pet ownership for children you know. Send me more suggestions and ideas to prevent the needless death of millions of animals a year.
It’s like the starfish story, you can make a difference to “this one”.

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February 6, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment