I have written articles before about the benefits of spaying and neutering, and the number of unwanted animals in need of homes.
While unplanned litters are a large part of why there is a need for animal rescues, there are many adult dogs that find themselves without homes … and all of those dogs were once puppies that someone took home and loved.
It surprises me that there are still many misconceptions out there about spaying and neutering, and so many excuses to not take that step to prevent more unwanted animals and provide your pet with a healthier life.
I thought I would take the opportunity to dispel a few of these ideas:
• My dog is never out unsupervised and my cat never goes outside.
Ironically, while so many people give this reason for not spaying and neutering, it is also a line heard time and again by those in animal rescue when they are being asked to take an unplanned litter of puppies or kittens. Except in those cases, it begins with: "I don’t know how this happened, my dog is never out unsupervised" or "My cat is always inside, I don’t know how she got out."
• Only females need to be spayed, males do not need to be neutered.
Sadly, there are some people who feel that if their dog doesn’t come home pregnant, they are eliminated from any responsibility for prevention. The truth is, while a female dog can produce two or three litters of puppies a year, the number a male can produce is countless.
• My dog or cat is too small, too skinny or too old.
Did you know that rabbits, guinea pigs and even smaller animals can be spayed or neutered? There is absolutely no reason why a small dog or cat cannot be spayed or neutered. If you have concerns, talk to your vet — there are things that can be done prior to spaying and neutering, such as preliminary bloodwork, and things that can be done during surgery, like extra IV fluids. Unless your vet tells you there is a reason why your pet can not be spayed or neutered, odds are he or she can be.
• My dog/cat will benefit from having just one litter.
It’s a greater benefit to your female cat or dog to spay her before her first heat cycle, as you reduce the risk of mammary tumours considerably. Having a litter of puppies does not make a dog better, and not every female dog is a "good mom." Raising a litter of puppies is time consuming and expensive, but if complications arise, the situation can become considerably more prolonged and costly.
• All my friends say they want a puppy or kitten if I have a litter.
This is another common story rescues get when an owner requests placement of their remaining puppies or kittens that they thought they had homes for. "I planned ahead, I thought I had homes for all of them." Finding homes for puppies and kittens is harder than you think — and in the meantime (and as they get bigger), you are responsible for feeding them, vetting them and cleaning up after them.
• My dog/cat has never had puppies/kittens before.
That’s usually the case — until they do. That is very similar to saying: "I’ve always texted while driving and I’ve never been in an accident." I understand this is a more extreme example, but the point is that taking a risk because nothing has gone wrong before, doesn’t mean it never will.
While I think myths about animals experiencing personality changes, and getting fat and lazy seem to have been eradicated, there are many new excuses coming to the forefront of the spay/neuter discussion.
We already know there is a problem with the number of animals in need of homes — it’s time to take steps to "fix" the problem.
Please, spay and neuter your pets.
Dana Grove is an animal lover who works with several pet organizations in Brandon.