Pet Arithmetic

Feb 23, 2013

World Spay Day 2013
Credit Humane Society of the United States

Early in life we learn  to count and to do simple arithmetic, but there's nothing simple about counting the animals - dogs, cats, and even rabbits - who are victims of the pet overpopulation problem.


If I were to ask you how much is one plus one, you would probably answer “two”. But in the pet world, sometimes one plus one can equal pretty large number if you’re talking about animals that are allowed to breed unchecked.

Experts say that the average female cat could have three litters in one year, each with up to six kittens in a litter. The average female dog could have about two litters per year, but one litter could have 8 puppies. That means that one female pet that continues to breed and her offspring that also continue to breed could result in tens of thousands of cats or dogs in just a few years.

It’s no wonder that around six million animals are surrendered to animal shelters in this country every year, and that almost half – or about three million companion animals – must be euthanized because there are just too many of them and not enough homes.

While it may make you sad to think of all those animals who never have a chance to show someone what great pets they could have been, the saddest part for me is that pet overpopulation is easily prevented. All it takes, is for owners to have their female dogs and cats spayed and their male animals neutered.

If you think it is too expensive to have your pet “fixed”, it may surprise you to learn that it costs more to raise one litter of puppies or kittens than to have your dog or cat spayed or neutered.

If finances are tight and your budget has little room in it for veterinary surgery, check online for lower cost opportunities in your area. Call your local animal shelter and ask if they can help. Many states, including Alabama, have a low-cost spay-neuter clinic that offers affordable options. You might start by talking with your own veterinarian, to see if you can work out a payment plan.

This is the right time to get your pet spayed or neutered, because this Tuesday is World Spay Day, established to remind everyone of the important role each of us plays in preventing pet overpopulation. Make sure your dog or cat is not contributing to the problem – become part of the solution, so that someday, one plus one really will equal two when you’re speaking of pets.