You might think that spaying and neutering your pet is common sense now that we’ve entered the year 2013. After all, Bob Barker preached it at the end of every Price is Right for 35 years. Unfortunately though, spaying and neutering has yet to become conventional wisdom. According to a national survey published in USA Today, nearly half of people who have acquired unsterilized pets in the last year haven’t had them spayed or neutered. Surprisingly, those under 35 are the least likely to sterilize their pets. PetSmart Charities conducted the survey, in an effort to understand what factors are contributing to pet overpopulation where an estimated 4-6 million shelter animals are euthanized every year in the United States alone. Obviously, ignorance is part of the problem as 62 percent of the 18-34 year old surveyed thought less than one million shelter animals were euthanized each year and a staggering 28 percent thought 100,000 or less were euthanized. If you think getting your pet spayed or neutered isn’t a priority, there are millions of homeless shelter animals who would like to respectfully disagree with you.
Even those pet owners who are thinking of spaying and neutering are confused about when to have the procedure done. Among survey respondents who had recently acquired a pet, 17 percent said they had no idea of the proper age to spay/neuter; 42 percent said 6 months; 14 percent said at least 9 months. Since pets can become pregnant when they’re just 6 months old, many vets recommend 4 or 5 months as the proper age. But according to USA Today, through motivation by animal welfare advocates who want puppies and kittens sterilized before they go into adopters’ homes, a growing number of veterinarians are starting to believe 2 months is a good age to spay or neuter.
Every single puppy and kitten born contributes to the overpopulation problem. Even when pet owners have “found homes” for an entire litter, each of those animals deprives a dog or cat waiting patiently in a shelter from finding a loving home. Purebreds are no exception. Studies have shown that close to 25 percent of animals in shelters are purebred dogs and cats.
Consider these statistics: According to the Humane Society of the United States, a single unspayed female cat, her mate, and their offspring are capable of producing a total of 420,000 kittens in just seven years. In six years, one unspayed female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies. This results in the euthanasia of millions of homeless pets.
I’ve heard people ask: “Won’t we run out of pets if all animals are spayed and neutered?” And here’s the answer: According to experts, each day in the U.S., 70,000 puppies and kittens are born-seven times the number of humans born. As long as these birth rates exist, there will never be enough homes for all the animals. Given the fact we can’t spay and neuter all animals, there’s no chance of running out of pets anytime soon.
Aside from spaying or neutering your pet to help with the overpopulation crisis, spaying and neutering has both medical and behavioral benefits for your dog and cat. Neutering male dogs and cats make them less likely to fight with other males or mark their territory and it virtually eliminates the risk of testicular tumors or prostate problems. Spaying female dogs and cats greatly reduces their chances of developing mammary, ovarian, or uterine cancers. Spayed and neutered pets are also less likely to try to get out of the yard to find mates. Each year, thousands of roaming animals in search of mates become lost or are hit by cars, resulting in needless suffering or death.
Spaying and neutering isn’t just for dogs and cats. Rabbits reproduce faster than dogs or cats and often end up in shelters where they must be euthanized. Spaying or neutering rabbits can reduce hormone-driven behavior such as lunging, mounting, and spraying. Spaying female rabbits can also prevent ovarian, mammary, and uterine cancers, which can be common in mature females.
As tremendous as the problem of pet overpopulation is, it can be solved if each of us takes just one small step, starting with not allowing our animals to breed. Please have your pet spayed or neutered.
C.A.R.E.4Paws Furever Valentine’s
On Saturday, February 9, C.A.R.E.4Paws will host its second annual FurEver Valentines Friendraiser at Oreana Winery from 7 to 10 p.m. Enjoy great wine and food, delicious chocolate, live music, fabulous silent and live auctions, and much more. Contact C.A.R.E.4Paws if you want to pre-register or wish to support the event by donating food, dessert or silent auction items or by becoming a FurEver sponsor. For more information visit http://www.care4paws.org/valentines.html
Adoptable Pet of the Week
Marvin is a wonderfully sweet, friendly little terrier mix neutered male dog. He is about 5 years old and 14 lbs. Marvin is great all people and other dogs, and is so congenial with everyone that he might be fine with cats, too. Marvin enjoys going for walks, play time and also enjoys relaxation and cuddle time. He loves to play with other dogs especially if they like to play a game of chase me-I’ll chase you. He loves to learn by following positive-reinforced instructions. He seems very potty trained and will jump up and down to let you know he needs to go outside. When Marvin was abandoned he had a painful eye condition commonly called cherry-eye, which is a prolapsed inner eyelid that requires surgery, infected teeth and he needed to be neutered. K-9 PALS paid for all that to be taken care of so he could be healthy and all ready for adoption. Marvin will make a wonderful, faithful, and playful companion for a family or single person with or without other dogs in the home.
To learn more about Marvin and about adopting a dog , go to www.K-9PALS.org. You can see Marvin in person during business hours at the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter, Monday thru Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 5473 Overpass Rd., or make a plan to come to one of the K-9 PALS community outreach events.
K-9 PALS has monthly community outreach events at the Pet House on Calle Real, Petco 5 Points and other places around the area on weekends, and that would be a great time to meet Marvin if he is not adopted before then, as well as many other great dogs for adoption from local shelters and rescue groups.
K-9 PALS provides four FREE dog behavior training sessions for dog adopters, so please contact K-9 PALS if you want to take advantage of this great offer when you adopt a dog from any local shelter.
If you are not looking to adopt, consider a donation to K-9 PALS to help us pay for the medical care, medications, food, behavior training, and other much needed support for homeless dogs. More information about K-9 PALS programs and support for dogs can be found at www.K-9PALS.org , or call 805-570-0415. Donations are gratefully accepted through PayPal or to K-9 PALS, P.O. Box 60755 Santa Barbara, CA 93160-0755.