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Critical Control: The Importance of Spaying and Neutering Pets

Updated on July 14, 2014

The Harsh Reality

According to recent data published by the Humane Society of the United States over 2.7 million perfectly healthy adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters each year. The Greek word "euthanize" means "good death" and although we may use euphemisms such as "put down" or "went to sleep" these softened complaisant words will never lessen the impact of knowing millions of animals are senselessly slaughtered due to irresponsible human behavior. The harsh reality is that human beings are the cause of pet overpopulation. Healthy, loving adoptable animals are paying for our mistakes with their lives. With spaying and neutering programs, responsible breeding and the abolishment of puppy mills we have the power to prevent overpopulation and a potential companion animals certain death sentence.

Animals killed in US shelters are almost always euthanized by intravenous injection, typically using a very high dose of pentobarbital or sodium thiopental. Unconsciousness, respiratory then cardiac arrest follows rapidly, normally within thirty seconds. Observers generally describe the method as leading to a quick, painless and peaceful death. Leading up to the moment of death is another story. Some frightened animals may stay in a shelter for months or a mere week before death due to overcrowding. Organizations that lack room and resources will likely euthanize animals more quickly. If animals remain unclaimed or are not adopted out within a certain time limit they have no choice but to be killed. Euthanasia in an animal shelter is typically carried out by a veterinarian or a veterinary technician working under the veterinarian's supervision. Often animal shelter workers are trained to perform euthanasia as well. The video below contains additional statistics. Please be warned that it contains disturbing material. Viewer discretion is advised. Until the US and other countries around the world face the harsh reality and examine the root causes of overpopulation all efforts for its control will be less effective. For the sake of millions of innocent animals we cannot continue to look away.

“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.” -Albert Schweitzer

What Can You Do?

Have you ever rescued or fostered an animal from a shelter?

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Spay and Neuter -Be Responsible

Why is spaying and neutering a pet so critical to pet population reduction? Unlike human beings animals are unable to walk into a clinic by themselves. They are unable to drive to a doctors office or utilize over the counter birth control methods. Domesticated animals depend on us for their survival. In addition to food, water, shelter and love we provide our companion animals with medical care. Proper treatment and medical care on the part of a pet parent ensures a long and healthy life for your animal. It also ensures population control.

Spaying

Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer in female animals especially dogs. Breast cancer is fatal in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases. A spayed female is prevented from going into heat. While cycles can vary, female felines usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. When they are searching for a potential mate they will howl and urinate more frequently. Spaying will prevent them from spraying in your home.

Neutering

Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering your male animal companion prevents testicular cancer, if done before six months of age. Neutered cats and dogs keep their attention on loving family members where as unneutered males are more aggressive and mark their territory in the house. An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate, including trying to roam away from home, dig and fight with other males. Neutering will curtail this behavior. Despite the myth spaying and neutering doesn't make pets fat. Once again that is a human issue.

Your Community

Stray animals pose a real problem in many parts of the country. They can prey on the local wildlife, cause car accidents and frighten children. Spaying and neutering provides the most powerful solution to reducing the number of animals on the streets. Many European communities have had to face heart breaking euthanasia round ups due to allowing a stray population to get out of control. Stray animals become feral and have no chance of adoption. They spread diseases, kill local wildlife and pets and will attack adults and children. So a community must decide if they want to pay a little for sterilization now or pay a much higher ethical cost later.

The cost of your pet's spay/neuter surgery is a lot less than the cost of having and caring for a litter. Letting your pet produce offspring you have no intention of keeping is selfish and not a good lesson for children. Many unwanted animals end up in shelters that were born healthy, spent time in family homes only to be cold- heartedly sent off to be killed because adults weren't responsible. Is this setting a good example for children or the community? Children should be taught compassion towards animals at an early age. They need to understand that animals show loyalty, affection, become scared, suffer and feel pain just as humans do. Children should be taught that we are entrusted to care for all animals. Animals can't speak for themselves. When we love and care for an animal what they give us in return is beyond words.



We Are Allowing Irresponsible Breeding

Puppy Mills - Commercial Breeders

Adorable puppies that you see for sale in pet stores, on the internet, or by breeders advertising in magazines or newspapers may actually be born in deplorable conditions. Puppy mills are abusive animal factories that mass produce one or more breed of dog per facility. A breeder can even mass market puppies with a few adoring photos of kittens or puppies sweetly romping in a field of daisies when in reality their breeding stock is in a dark cage lying in layers of feces. The most unscrupulous commercial breeders use inbred, genetically-weak parents to manufacture small or specially-marked puppies. Unsuspecting buyers soon discover these puppies exhibit debilitating signs of congenital disease later in life. A few will die after purchase from a pet store in a matter of weeks.

There are just too many brutally disgusting stories of rescue operations where hundreds of malnourished, physically abused mother and father breeder dogs are extricated from unimaginable conditions. Adopting your next pet from a reputable humane organization or rescue group will stop support of abusive puppy mill owners. Even purebred dogs like Golden Retrievers or Yorkshire Terriers are often available through a humane shelter and other breed specific rescue groups. Do your research before adopting or purchasing an animal from a local pet store or online breeder.

Think of how much you love or loved an animal in your life.....

Please Spay and Neuter

Additional resources for spaying and neutering your animal or assisting programs in your own community can be found below. There is no humane excuse for human beings to allow pet overpopulation to continue. Please, remember they depend on us.


"The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated."-Mahatma Gandhi


Comments

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  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR

    LKMore01 

    5 years ago

    Flourish, I would be happy to share this information. No problem.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 

    5 years ago from USA

    Lisa, I'm writing an upcoming hub on Life Lessons Learned From Dogs. Would you mind if I link this hub as suggested reading?

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR

    LKMore01 

    5 years ago

    Thank you, Elias. I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

  • epbooks profile image

    Elizabeth Parker 

    5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

    Thanks so much. That is so kind of you!!

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR

    LKMore01 

    5 years ago

    Dreamhowl,

    Thank you for reading and commenting.

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR

    LKMore01 

    5 years ago

    Thank you, Liz. You have dedicated so much of your life, time and love to rescuing animals. Thank you for all the work you have done and continue to do. Intelligent, compassionate, caring human beings like yourself bring change and awareness.

  • Elias Zanetti profile image

    Elias Zanetti 

    5 years ago from Athens, Greece

    Wonderful hub and such an important message you spread!

  • Dreamhowl profile image

    Jessica Marello 

    5 years ago from United States

    When I get a dog, I hope to adopt one from a shelter that has been fixed. There are so many animals brought into my pet store on weekends for adoption, it's sad.

  • epbooks profile image

    Elizabeth Parker 

    5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

    Thank you so much for posting this important hub. I couldn't bring myself to watch the video. I get so disturbed by how many people abuse, neglect or purposely harm their animal and don't care about them. Something simple as spaying or neutering is often NOT done and that baffles me. I don't understand the logic. The overpopulation of pets is caused by animals that are not spayed and neutered. Thank you so much for posting. Hopefully one day people will become aware about how important this is.

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR

    LKMore01 

    5 years ago

    Thank you for reading and commenting, Doodlehead.

  • Doodlehead profile image

    Doodlehead 

    5 years ago from Northern California

    I can't agree with this. I know "they" say it is healthier to spay and neuter animals, but by the same token then why don't men have to cut out their testicles? It is not natural to neuter pets.

    Furthermore, here in California finding a dog is EXPENSIVE. There are shortages. You have to go through interviews to get a pet and since I am a single person I am discriminated against. for various reasons in this regard.

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR

    LKMore01 

    5 years ago

    Jaye,

    From one passionate advocate to another. Thank you for bringing even more awareness to this subject. Those people in the small municipalities will not be tolerated much longer. It is because of people like you who care enough to change laws that we will see them eventually go down. Thank you so much again for your comments, wisdom and compassion .

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR

    LKMore01 

    5 years ago

    Thank you so much for reading and commenting kidcrafts. Thank you for caring and loving animals as you do.

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 

    5 years ago from Deep South, USA

    I cannot understand why anyone refuses to spay or neuter a pet, especially since there are so many programs that offer the procedure at a discounted rate. Just as some people should not become parents, others are not fit to have pets.

    I deplore the existence of puppy mills and have been active in trying to get them closed in more than one state. Unfortunately, there are some states and municipalities (usually small towns) where the officials actually welcome the revenue from these horrendous operations (or personally know and protect the owners), and even the Humane Society has been helpless against officialdom that condones such inhumane practices. Some states do not have adequate animal cruelty laws or, if they do, do not enforce them. I also do not understand the mindset of people--especially people with the authority to do something positive--who do not care about the pain inflicted on innocent animals. I think they are still living in the Dark Ages.

    Voted Up+++ and shared

    Jaye

  • kidscrafts profile image

    kidscrafts 

    5 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

    I am totally with you on this subject. I didn't buy any of my cats because there are enough cats who need a good home; so no need to encourage breeders and they were all either spayed or neutered.

    When I had my first cat in Belgium, you could go to the vet for an injection so the cat would not have kittens (some 30 years ago); I suppose it was some kind of hormone therapy and it was suppose to last 6 months. But it lasted about 3 months and then at that time we already moved to Canada. They don't do that here... so we had he spayed and she had a long 16 years with us :-)

    The last cat that I adopted came from a lady who tries to catch all the abandoned cats around her place and have them spayed or neutered... when she doesn't adopted them herself. She was trying since a few years to catch the mother of my last cat... and finally she did it...but the cat was almost ready to have kittens. So she kept her in one room of her home and waited until the kittens were big enough to eat on their own to have her spayed. When I contacted her to adopt one kitten, she interviewed me for one and half hour before letting me go with the cat :-)

    Thank you for talking about that important subject! It breaks my heart when I see cats in their little cage in the animal store.

    Voted up, useful, interesting and awesome!

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR

    LKMore01 

    5 years ago

    Thank you, Flourish. If you have ever shared your life with a companion animal and understand the gifts they bring to humanity how can we continue to do this to creatures who love and trust us. It's our responsibility. Thank you for commenting and sharing the passion for awareness and change.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 

    5 years ago from USA

    This is a very important hub for anyone who cares about animals, reducing suffering, and/or conserving our tax dollars (yes, it's thriftier to prevent). I have been passionate about spay/neuter ever since seeing a poster in eighth grade. It was very similar to the one you feature with the puppy and dead kittens and said, "Pick one and throw the rest away." Vivid and sad. Voted up and more and shared.

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR

    LKMore01 

    5 years ago

    Thank you, Joe. As you know I love animals especially dogs. So this is a passionate subject for me to advocate and write about. However, I honestly know I would never, ever be able to work as a vet or animal control tech who has to administer the euthanasia. It would be too much for my soul to bare. The people who work in shelters have their hearts broken every single day. How can we continue to let this happen? Thank you for reading and commenting, Joe. Kona was fortunate to have been loved so much.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image

    Hawaiian Odysseus 

    5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    What an informative and compassionate article, Lisa! I have been to animal shelters and enjoyed holding the kittens or taking the dogs for walks. Call me naive, but it didn't dawn on me until I read your article that at some point, those that are not adopted are euthanized.

    We had Kona, our pet cat, neutered, and I'm all the more glad we did after absorbing what you've written here. Thank you so much for sharing. I, in turn, have shared it with our community of writers.

    Lots of aloha, Lisa!

    ~Joe

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