Pet Report: Myths and facts about spaying and neutering

Black Lab Special this week!

You've heard it many times. It's almost impossible to enter a shelter or vet's office without encountering literature, discussion, or even irksome nagging about the importance of spaying or neutering your pet. Even so, here are some important points to think about:

Every day 70,000 puppies and kittens are born in America, while only 10,000 people are born. There just aren't enough homes for all of these animals.

Every year 10 million to 12 million animals are euthanized in pounds and shelters across this country for lack of available homes. If this were humans, we would call it a "holocaust." On average, 64 percent of all animals taken into shelters nationwide have to be euthanized for this reason. Even though we are proud to operate a "No-Kill" shelter in South Pacific County, the overwhelming problem of stray and unwanted pets produced by not de-sexing often overfills our shelter, preventing the rescue of that many more pets. The problem of "no room at the inn" (read "shelter") is often crushing.

At least 50 percent of the overpopulation problem is non-neutered males. Females can't do it alone. Purebreds are also another contributing factor. The fact that an animal has "papers" doesn't necessarily mean it should be bred. For every home you find for an animal that you have allowed to breed, another home is lost for a shelter animal. Animal overpopulation has reached a crisis point in this country.

Here is a list of some of the myths and fallacies people have come to believe about spaying and neutering of their pets:

MYTH: "My pet will get fat and lazy."

FACT: The truth is that most pets get fat and lazy because their owners feed them too much and don't give them enough exercise.

MYTH: "It's better to have one litter first."

FACT: Medical evidence indicates just the opposite. In fact, the evidence shows that females spayed before their first heat are typically healthier. Many veterinarians now sterilize dogs and cats as young as eight weeks of age. Check with your veterinarian about the appropriate time he or she recommends for these procedures.

MYTH: "My children should experience the miracle of birth."

FACT: Good idea. Rent a video.

MYTH: "But my pet is a purebred."

FACT: So is at least one out of every four pets brought to animal shelters around the nation. There are just too many dogs and cats mixed breed and purebred.

MYTH: "I want my dog to be protective."

FACT: Spaying or neutering does not affect a dog's natural instinct to protect home and family. A dog's personality is formed more by genetics and environment than by sex hormones.

MYTH: "I don't want my male dog or cat to feel less masculine."

FACT: Pets don't have any concept of sexual identity or ego. Neutering will not change a pet's basic personality.

MYTH: "But my dog (or cat) is so special; I want a puppy (or kitten) just like her."

FACT: A dog or cat may be a great pet, but that doesn't mean her offspring will be a carbon copy. How many human children turn out to be just like mom or dad? Animals are no different in their genetic attributes.

MYTH: "It's too expensive to have my pet spayed or neutered."

FACT: It's a bargain compared to the cost of having a litter and ensuring the health of the mother and litter. Our shelter (as well as many others) offers financial help for spaying and neutering your animals. Call and ask us about it.

MYTH: "I'll find good homes for all the puppies (or kittens.)"

FACT: You may find homes for all of your pet's litter, but each home you find means one less home for the dogs and cats in shelters who need good homes.

One More Reason:

Spaying or neutering your pet provides many practical benefits as well as preventing animal overpopulation: Your spayed or neutered pet is more content and far less likely to roam, bite, scratch, fight, mark territory or develop uterine, mammary or testicular cancer.

The South Pacific County Humane Society Animal Shelter is at 330 2nd Street NE, next to the County buildings in downtown Long Beach, phone 642-1180. Our mailing address is P.O. Box 101, Long Beach, WA 98631. Web site: (www.beachpets.com). We're open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday. Monthly meetings, open to the public, are at 5:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of every month.

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