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PET OVERPOPULATION

by Diana Guerrero
Copyright© 1997 By Diana Guerrero

 

Most people are surprised to learn that we have a very large pet overpopulation problem here in the United States. There are so many animals born DAILY that it boggles the mind! This is a nightmare problem that doesn’t ever seem to get better. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that there are over 70,000 puppies and kittens born every twenty-four hours. That is a whole lot of babies! To even attempt to place those numbers of animals is impossible. There are about seven animals to every human born. The sad fact is that just is not possible to place them all.

Every year over 20 million animals end up in a shelter. Over 15 million of them are killed (euthanized is the nice term). Of those animals 61% of the dogs and 75% of the cats are killed. Very few of these are claimed and there are many more that die from disease, starvation, animal attacks and cars! Anyone who sees these facts must agree that not neutering an animal is contributing to mass cruelty and irresponsibility!

Many people feel that neutering an animal is cruel, it isn’t. The fact is that it is actually much healthier and more beneficial to your animal. The terms related to this procedure "fixed" and "spayed" for the females ( Terms: "Bitch" for dogs or "Queen" for cats ) or "altered" for the male (Terms: "Dog" for canines or "Tom" for cats) are pretty negative but the procedure is a very loving and positive thing to do for your pet.

Benefits to your pet after neutering mean that females have less chance of ovarian cancer or uterine infections if it is done before their first "heat". Each cycle they experience increases the chances of illness greatly, as much as ten times each! The other benefit is that you will not have to clean up the mess which happens during her cycle! The behavior benefits mean that your pooch or feline will be calmer and more reliable. You also won’t have to bat the male dogs or cats away and deal with the fence climbing, dirt digging, fence destroying mongrels or yowling, prowling, spraying and fighting tom cats!

Neutering your pet is just as important! It takes only one escape to find a female and become a villain of pet overpopulation. One cat and her kits will produce over 420,000 cats in about seven years! Males who are neutered have less of a desire to roam, fight, mark and be destructive. They also have less problems with the prostate gland and testicular cancer. From a behavioral standpoint, neutered animals are more reliable, stable and have about sixty percent (60%) less problems than those left "intact."

Veterinarians are now able to neuter animals at younger ages, some as early as two to four months of age! Traditionally, most veterinary offices will perform this procedure at six months. It is cheaper and easier to neuter the younger animals as many clinics will charge by weight.

This year I received a very nice question from a concerned pet owner sent in a letter by a fifth grade class from Indiana. It was a very loving and responsible question to ask BEFORE considering breeding an animal. Here is the response, the pet was a dog:

It was nice to hear that your class has a BIG interest in dogs. Your question was whether or not your grandmother should breed her Pekingese. The answer is simple but very complicated too. My professional recommendation is NO for several reasons:
1. There is a serious problem with pet-overpopulation in the United States with about 70,000 puppies and kittens born everyday.
2. Only two out of ten animals will find a really good home despite the best effort!
3. Of the twenty million animals that end up in shelters or the pound 25% plus are "purebreds."
4. Purebred breeding is very complicated. Here are some of the questions to ask to see if you should consider breeding your dog:

    a) Is your dog a purebred from a reputable breeder?
    b) Did you purchase the dog from the breeder?
    c) Do you have a 5 (five) generation pedigree for YOUR dog?
    d) Is there a minimum of 8 TITLED (AKC / UKC: Champions, Obedience CD, CDX, etc.,) in the last 3 (three) generations?
    e) Does your dog have a stable temperament? (=calm & well mannered)
    f) Does your dog fit the breed standard?
    g) Is your dog and the prospective mate healthy?
    h) Is your dog CERTIFIED free of genetic diseases (OFA,CERF,BAER)?
    i) Does the prospective mate answer "yes" to a) through h) also?

ONLY if you have answered ALL the above questions "YES" should you consider breeding the dog.
5. Other considerations about breeding should include puppy care, socialization and selection. The pups will need to be checked by a veterinarian; Proper environment is important in teaching them housesoiling etiquette, dog manners and other social skills. A good responsible breeder will help determine the proper personality and temperament that will fit best with the potential owners/buyers and will follow up on the pup periodically. Breeding a dog is a very big commitment and responsibility.

PET BREEDING MYTHS
There are just as many rumors about neutering an animal as their are for training an animal. Most of these myths have been passed along for years and years without any basis in fact. People still believe false statements like: "It will calm her down to have a litter" and "He needs to sow his oats," or "It will make her/him more protective." These are all inaccurate viewpoints and flat nonsense; and you have probably heard them all! Let’s look at a few more.

"I want to breed my pet; it’s a purebred"
The fact is that 25% of all animals found in a shelter are AKC or UKC purebreds. Know what that means? NOT MUCH! Those letters just mean they belong to a club and are registered to it. There is no guarantee of quality. In fact, most times those animals have some serious medical and behavioral problems. There are very few really good responsible breeders. When breeders are good, they are REALLY good and screen potential owners very closely. They also are careful about the animals they sell, their health and often pay for their training, neutering, or will take them back if they do not work out in the home.

"My pet is a male; I won’t have any litters"
These animals are a very big part of the pet overpopulation problem since they escape and breed with females in heat. They roam more, are more aggressive and sire hoards of litters for someone else to raise.

"I want my pet to be more protective and responsive."
Instinct is not affected by hormones. In fact, most pets will be more reliable and responsive after neutering because of stabilized hormones and will often be easier to train. Altered animals are protective and loyal to their owners and often will have reduced desires to wander, mark territory and fight with other animals.

"My pet will get fat."
Neutering can lower an animals metabolism but it is usually the lack of exercise and overfeeding that causes the animal to become overweight.

"My pet is special."
Every animal is special. Most will never be duplicated. Think of all those special animals that are killed daily. Adoptees are very special animals.

"A litter will calm my animal and having a litter will be better for her."
Veterinary medical evidence says otherwise. This is just not true.

"My kids need to experience the birth process."
This is not true. School programming, virtual computers or films can convey the same information in a more caring way. Visiting the local zoo or science center are other options too. Children can experience the birthing process other ways and enjoy it more. They will experience it later in life anyway. Just think about all the hassles you will not have to deal with through that process, the birth, raising all those babies, and the veterinary bills.

"Spaying & neutering is painful for the pet."
Surgery is performed under anesthesia and animals are usually back on their feet into normal activities within 24 to 72 hours. This slight discomfort is not harmful and prevents the suffering and death of hundreds of unwanted animals that could be born if you do not spay or neuter your pet.

"Surgery for this procedure is expensive."
Prices vary, but there are numerous animal control and humane societies that offer low cost spay and neuter clinics. Some veterinarians also offer a discount, just ask. If you have a litter and take proper care of it your cost factors are much more than this procedure would ever be. Note: Each stray animal costs taxpayers about $100 each to catch, feed, and destroy.

If this section still has not convinced you to neuter your animal, go visit a shelter. I challenge you to spend some time there. Ask when they euthanize animals & witness how the animals cringe, defecate in fear, and act when they are taken out to be killed. Look them in the eyes and explain why you do not want to neuter your pet.

 

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