Statistics according to the Humane Society of the United States: One female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 dogs in six years’ time. One female cat and her offspring can produce 20,736 felines in four years’ time. Just imagine, a 5-month-old kitten can have her first litter and this begins an impossible cycle. These figures are shocking, but unfortunately true.
Here at the Central Aroostook Humane Society, we have worked very hard to have as many pets as possible be altered before they are adopted. This has proven to decrease the number of stray and unwanted pets that have come through our doors. The year-end totals for incoming pets have continued to drop every year since we have implemented our spay and neuter program. A portion of every adoption goes back into this fund so it continues to generate funds on a regular basis.
I think above all I want the pet owners in our communities to be aware how important it is to be responsible in caring for your pets. Here is the ASPCA’s list of the top 10 reasons to spay or neuter your pet.
- 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.
- 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.
- Your male dog won’t want to roam away from home. An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate. And once he’s free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other males.
- Your neutered male will be much better behaved. Neutered cats and dogs focus their 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.
- Spaying or neutering will NOT make your pet fat. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- A female pet will live a longer, healthier life. Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer, which is fatal in 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats.
Gloria J. Towle is the secretary and a member of the Board of Directors of the Central Aroostook Humane Society.