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Don't Delay - Neuter-Spay

matt searles [Flickr]

The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that handling unwanted pet animals costs as much as $1 billion annually in the U.S.  But the greatest cost is loss of life.  Statistics show that only three of the seven cute puppies in this picture would make it out of an animal shelter alive.  Spaying and Neutering would prevent this tragedy.


Recently I overheard a conversation while waiting for an elevator. A woman was lamenting the fact that her female pure-bred dog, who is usually confined in a fenced yard, got out somehow and mated with an unknown dog. The resulting litter of terrier-looking puppies were obviously mixed-breed. She had found a home for one but the others probably were going to the animal shelter.

Accidental breeding is just one of the reasons for the pet overpopulation problem that plagues our country, and it is more of a threat to companion animals than any infectious disease. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that three million dogs and cats are euthanized in animal shelters every year – 80% of those are healthy, adoptable animals. There are just too many pets and not enough homes.

Those of us who own pets have the first responsibility, to make sure our furry friends do not contribute to the problem by producing litters of puppies or kittens. Even if you were able to find homes for all of your pet’s litter, each one reduces the opportunity for an animal in a shelter waiting for its chance at a new home. The only guaranteed method for preventing unwanted litters is for us to spay our female pets and neuter our males.

Spaying and neutering can have benefits for the pet, as well. Both males and females are less likely to roam, reducing the chance they will be hit by cars, and the likelihood they will come into contact with diseased animals. They will live longer and be healthier, with reduced risk of certain cancers. They are usually calmer and make better pets. The myth that spaying or neutering makes a pet gain weight is not true; pets grow fat and lazy for the same reason we do – too much food and not enough exercise.

Please call your veterinarian and make an appointment to have your pet spayed or neutered. You will have a happier, healthier pet who will live longer and be a better companion. And if you’re looking for a pet, remember the slogan, “Don’t shop – adopt!” Visit your local animal shelter and find a new best friend, when you’re speaking of pets.


Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.
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