Small Town News

Guest Opinion

Spay and neuter to prevent pet maladies

The Camp Verde Journal of Camp Verde, Arizona

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Paws Around Town

Spring is here and once again our Golden Bone Rescue email box is full of pleas for help with litters of puppies or females about to give birth. The hard reality is that there are more dogs and cats, horses and goats than there are homes to care for them.

Please spay and neuter your pets.

According to the ASPCA

Pet Statistics, "Approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 million to 4millionareeuthanized — 60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats. Shelter intakes are about evenly divided between those animals relinquished by owners and those picked up by animal control. These are national estimates; the percentage of euthanasia may vary from state to state."

From the standpoint of those of us who love and respect animals, this is appalling and inhumane. From the standpoint of those who are concerned about our nation's economy, this is an alarming statistic.

Every year, towns and cities spend fortunes trying to control vast numbers of dogs and cats that land in shelters where financial resources go out as fast as they come in. It doesn't make financial or humane sense to keep allowing our domestic pets to breed.

Up to 25 percent of dogs in pounds and shelters are estimated to be purebred. Selling or giving away a puppy does not guarantee a good or permanent home whether it's mixed or pure bred. The problem exists even in a strong economy. When things get tough, increased need and lack of funding limits what shelters can do.

In many Third World and developing countries, animal control is minimal and ineffective and there are serious problems caused by packs of dogs, many of them sick or diseased, others aggressive and a nuisance to the human and animal population in their communities. Humane societies, animal control and rescue groups are all a sad necessity because we, the people, can't seem to understand and manage the problem of domestic pet overpopulation. At the same time we don't want to live surrounded by packs of dogs and feral cats. The answer is simple.

There are countless reasons to spay and neuter your pets; cats, dogs, bunnies and anything that might breed. First and foremost is the tragic reality that it is unnecessary for these hapless, homeless animals to be born into lives of suffering in the first place.

There are well-documented health and behavioral reasons to fix your pets. Female dogs and cats that are altered before the first heat cycle greatly reduce their risk of mammary cancers and completely eliminate the risk of uterine disease. Males altered before testosterone levels start rising tend to be much easier to manage than their unneutered counterparts, who are prone to mark and challenge and find ways out of their confined areas after the scent of a female in heat. They are also not at risk for testicular or prostate cancer, which is common in older unaltered males.

Cost remains a problem. Many people, particularly in this economy, don't feel they can afford the rising cost of altering their pets. There are resources to keep costs minimal. These resources may require some leg work on your part to access but part of responsible pet ownership is taking a proactive approach to making sure your pets are altered and kept healthy. Check with local veterinarians, humane societies and rescue organizations for community spay/neuter programs. Plan ahead and have your pet's surgery done before it is a crisis. Most veterinarians are comfortable altering a pup as young as four months old so don't put it off. While most female dogs have their first heat cycle at six to eight months, I've known dogs to get pregnant at five months.

Proper care of a mother dog and her pups is far more expensive than the cost of the spay that would have prevented a litter, particularly with the various resources available to help defer the cost of altering a pet.

The plight of homeless pets and the disposal of those who can no longer be supported is a sad, dark part of our communities. Do your part to keep from adding to the problem. Spay and neuter your pets and encourage others to do the same.

Paws Around Town was written this week by Nadia Caillou, an animal care specialist and co-owner of a pet store in Sedona. She is the founder of Golden Bone Rescue and Rehab and has over 30 years experience helping distressed animals and helping pet owners, shelters and pounds overcome problem behavior in animals.

Copyright 2015 The Camp Verde Journal, Camp Verde, Arizona. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: April 22, 2015

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