Thursday, October 21, 2010

Spay and Neuter!!!

If there’s one topic that I’m extremely passionate about, it’s the importance of getting our pets spayed or neutered. I can’t stress enough how much this matters. Just the other day, a good friend of mine from veterinary school who practices in South Florida sent me the following statistics:

Miami Dade Animal Services statistics for fiscal year (October 1st- Sept 30th). 

Intake: 35,924 (465 were diseased pets and 1,149 were owner requests euthanasia)

Adopted: 8,334 
Euthanized: 20,113
Rescue: 4,074 
Returned to owners: 1,534

These numbers are unbelievably tragic. Especially when you consider that the Miami-Dade area most likely has a smaller number of abandoned pets than bigger cities like New York and Los Angeles.  I often quote the rough estimate from the Humane Society of the United States that well over three million dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters across the country every year but when I read the statistics listed above it really hit home for me.  Over the course of a single year, in one part of a certain state, 20,000 animals were euthanized--simply because no one wanted them.  

Shelters are overrun with unwanted pets and vastly underfunded. They literally cannot keep up with the influx of animals forced into their care.  The majority of the animals euthanized each year are young, loving, and healthy. They are put to death because there are simply too many of them. It is truly heartbreaking.

What disturbs me the most is that the vast majority of these deaths could be avoided if all pet owners everywhere simply made the commitment to spay or neuter their pets.

The good news is that all of us have the power to help change this situation.  The most important action you can take? Spay or neuter every single one of your pets.

I know sometimes pet owners worry that if they choose to spay or neuter they’ll somehow be depriving their pet of a full vigorous life. I can assure you that quite the opposite is true.  Believe it or not, spaying or neutering actually improves your pet’s life expectancy! In the male dog or cat, neutering prevents testicular cancer and enlargement of the prostate gland, and greatly reduces their risk for perianal tumors, Spaying female cats and dogs before their first heat cycle nearly eliminates the risk of breast cancer and totally prevents uterine infections and uterine cancer.

USPS stamps
Looking for a way to make a dramatic difference in the life of an abandoned or unwanted animal? Adopt from your area’s animal shelter or a local recue group. Is your heart set on a pure breed dog? Check out the shelter: you would be surprised how many pure breed dogs there are in need of a new home (according to some sources, approximately 25% of all shelter dogs are purebreds).  Also consider adopting from a rescue group focusing on your chosen breed. If you do buy from a breeder, please research thoroughly and choose a responsible individual.  Never buy from a puppy store or over the Internet sight unseen as these are most likely puppy mills.

Last but not least, consider donating time or money to your local shelter or rescue group.  In our area, the Washington Humane Society and Washington Animal Rescue League offer many events and opportunities for animal lovers to get involved.  

Remember, the best thing you can do,—not just for your own beloved pet, but for dogs and cats everywhere—is to spay and neuter!

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