Author: Kathy Pierce
Every year, millions of dogs and cats die lonely, painful deaths on the streets of our cities. Millions more are impounded in shelters under horrific conditions, only to be put to death by municipal employees, many of whom have no training in humane euthanasia techniques. Their bodies are dumped into landfills, preyed upon by birds and other homeless animals, while the lethal substances used to execute them seep into the water table. A billion tax dollars a year are wasted perpetuating this endless cycle of death and disease.
All across the country, well-meaning but ignorant people hoard homeless animals under inadequate conditions, and then are prosecuted by government authorities, rightly or wrongly, for their misguided efforts to alleviate the suffering. It has been estimated that there are over 60 million homeless animals in the 48 contiguous United States alone: a staggering rate of more than a million per state. In order to give each of these animals a home, every household in America would have to hoard 8 dogs and 20 cats!
All these tragedies have one common cause: pet overpopulation. And all have a common solution: spay and neuter our pets.
Sterilizing our companion animals is not just the answer to pet overpopulation, it is the solution to myriad other problems, from social to political, humanitarian to medical.
Sterilization is a routine surgical procedure. Spaying (removal of uterus and ovaries) stops the production of estrogen, the hormone that surges through the female body during heat cycles. Neutering (removal of the testicles) halts the production of testosterone, the male hormone responsible for the territoriality and aggression. Halting hormone production eliminates heat cycles and mating drives, as well as the frantic howling, nervous pacing, embarrassing mounting, territorial spraying, bloody discharge, and dangerous wandering habits associated with them.
All these tragedies have one common cause: pet overpopulation. And all have a common solution: spay and neuter our pets. Aside from all the social benefits, sterilization improves the long term health and life expectancy of our pets. Intact cats and dogs are subject to the same health issues as humans: mammary cancer, uterine diseases like pyometra, ovarian cancer and cysts, miscarriages, complications during delivery, prostate cancer, and testicular cancer; sterilizing your pet eliminates these life-threatening problems.
Beware the spay/neuter myths and excuses!
● “They’ll get fat and lazy if I fix them.” Nonsense. Being overweight is a consequence of being overfed and under-exercised, not of being neutered. Sterilized pets have lower caloric requirements than males out hunting for a mate and females eating not only for themselves, but for the litters they carry.
● “My dog won’t protect me if he’s neutered.” Wrong. Protectiveness is the product of loyalty, not hormones. And with the distractions of hormonal drives eliminated, sterilized animals focus more intently on their humans.
● “It’s too expensive.” Not true. Many organizations offer low cost, even free spay/neuter services, especially for feral and un-owned cats. Licensing fees are universally less for sterilized animals than intact ones. Not to mention the expense of raising and feeding litter after litter of puppies and kittens.
● “Sexual fulfillment is important to me; why should I deprive my dog?” Let’s not confuse the instinctive hormonal responses of dogs and cats with human sexual relationships. Although they do have social structure, their sexuality is hormonal, not emotional. Animals get along just as well with each other – better in fact – when they are sterilized.
● “Preventing animals from reproducing is interfering with nature.” Yes, it is. So is killing them by the millions because the population is out of control. So is ignoring a problem that condemns them to suffer injury, starvation, disease, and cruelty. So is breeding animals for fighting, money, sport, or bait. There is nothing natural about the problem; the solution may have to be unnatural, too.
● “I want my children to witness the miracle of birth.” At whose expense? A more valuable lesson would be to witness the tragedy of death that awaits the millions of unwanted animals born and then discarded under this misguided notion