According to The Humane Society of the United States, four million cats and dogs - about one every eight seconds - are put down in U.S. shelters each year.
Imagine for a second that these cats and dogs are people. That shouldn't be too big a stretch for many pet parents, since we tend to think of our pets as children. Four million lives snuffed out each year. Almost half the population of New York City. More than the population of Los Angeles. More than the populations of Philadelphia and Phoenix combined! Source
Four million dogs, cats, kittens, and puppies are being killed ... why? Because "dog pounds" and shelters don't have room for them all, or the staff to take care of them, or the money for food, water, and medical care.
This is a disaster of our own making, and we can help stop it -- humanely and inexpensively. Spay or neuter your pets. The ASPCA lists the Top 10 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet:
1. Your female pet will live a longer, healthier life. Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer, which is fatal in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases.
2. Neutering provides major health benefits for your male. Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer, if done before six months of age.
3. Your spayed female won't go into heat.While cycles can vary, female felines usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. In an effort to advertise for mates, they'll yowl and urinate more frequently—sometimes all over the house!
4. Your male dog won't want to roam away from home. An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate! That includes digging his way under the fence and making like Houdini to escape from the house. And once he's free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other males.
5. Your neutered male will be much better behaved. Neutered cats and dogs focus their attention on their human families. On the other hand, unneutered dogs and cats may mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Many aggression problems can be avoided by early neutering.
6. Spaying or neutering will NOT make your pet fat. Don’t use that old excuse! Lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to pack on the extra pounds—not neutering. Your pet will remain fit and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise and monitor food intake.
7. It is highly cost-effective. The cost of your pet's spay/neuter surgery is a lot less than the cost of having and caring for a litter. It also beats the cost of treatment when your unneutered tom escapes and gets into fights with the neighborhood stray!
8. Spaying and neutering your pet is good for the community. Stray animals pose a real problem in many parts of the country. They can prey on wildlife, cause car accidents, damage the local fauna and frighten children. Spaying and neutering packs a powerful punch in reducing the number of animals on the streets.
9. Your pet doesn't need to have a litter for your children to learn about the miracle of birth. Letting your pet produce offspring you have no intention of keeping is not a good lesson for your children—especially when so many unwanted animals end up in shelters. There are tons of books and videos available to teach your children about birth in a more responsible way.
10. Spaying and neutering helps fight pet overpopulation. Every year, millions of cats and dogs of all ages and breeds are euthanized or suffer as strays. These high numbers are the result of unplanned litters that could have been prevented by spaying or neutering.
Don't think you can afford to have your pet spayed or neutered? Think again! More and more veterinarians and organizations are offering low-cost spay/neuter clinics on special days which usually are publicized in your local newspaper or on your local TV channels. We have seen many across the country advertising spay/neuter services for as little as $15.00. You can do this! Just think of the peace of mind you will gain knowing that your pet won't be the one responsible for creating a litter of unwanted babies that could end up being euthanized at a shelter.
If you don't know where to take your pet for a low-cost spay or neuter procedure, find one here:
What about those cats that wake you up in the middle of the night? You know -- the wild ones that won't come near you. October 16th was "National Feral Cat Day," a day established by Alley Cat Allies to bring attention to the issue of feral cats. Somewhere along the way, someone dumped an unwanted cat or litter of kittens, and they learned to survive on their own, having litter after litter. Feral cats are domestic cats that never had a real home. They were born in the "wild." They never learned to socialize with humans and therefore are afraid of us. They cannot be adopted. The ones that are trapped and taken to your local pound or shelter are killed.
You and your neighbors can work together to stop them from reproducing through a program called "Trap-Neuter-Return." Alley Cat Allies writes: "This program ends reproduction, stabilizes feral cat populations, and improves individual cats' lives. The behaviors and stresses associated with mating -- pregnancy, yowling, and fighting -- stop." You can learn more about it at the Alley Cat Allies website.
There are TNR programs already established in many areas of the country that will welcome your help, or you can learn how to start your own neighborhood program at the Alley Cat Allies website here.
Pet overpopulation in the U.S. is a serious problem that we can do something about. Discuss it with your friends and neighbors, and help put an end to the tragic killing of so many animals.
Carol Leifer Encourages Spay/Neuter