You might think that spaying and neutering your pet is common sense now that we’ve entered 2016. Unfortunately though, spaying and neutering has yet to become conventional wisdom. A national survey conducted by PetSmart Charities states that nearly half of those who have acquired pets in the last year still haven’t had them spayed or neutered.

Lisa Acho Remorenko

According to the Humane Society of the United States, eight million homeless animals enter animal shelters each year in the United States alone. An estimated four million of them are euthanized, simply for lack of available homes. Sadly, 80 percent of those animals are healthy and treatable and could have been adopted into new homes.

Pet owners who don’t have their pets spayed or neutered and bring unwanted pets into an already overcrowded world contribute to this 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 of 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: The Humane Society of the United States says that a single unspayed 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 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: Each day in the United States, 70,000 puppies and kittens are bornseven 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 that 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. If your pet is not spayed or neutered, please call your veterinarian to make an appointment today!


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