Today (Feb. 28, 2012) is National Spay Day. The first thing to pop into most people’s heads when they hear the phrase “spay/neuter” is The Price is Right and former host Bob Barker, who would always urge viewers at the end of every show to help control the pet population by having their pet spayed or neutered. For some it was a clear message. For others it became something a cute old man would say every day. Yet, as we can see from the overcrowded shelters and needless euthanasia of millions of animals each year, Bob’s message hasn’t gotten all the way through—maybe he should take a cue from his actions in Happy Gilmore to help make it clearer.
Having your pet spayed or neutered is not just for your pet. Granted, it certainly helps with their health and behavior later in life. Female dogs and cats are proven to be 90 percent less likely to develop breast cancer later in life if they are spayed before their first heat. You read that right—dogs and cats can develop breast cancer. And simply spaying them reduces the incidence by 90 percent. Male dogs and cats are far less likely to become aggressive and destructive later in life if they are neutered around six months of age. There are two pretty convincing reasons to do this. So, just these factors blow the myth of spay/neuter somehow being cruel to your pet right out of the water.
But again, having your pet spayed or neutered is not just for your pet. These simple actions help reduce the pet population by not adding to it. There are close to five million shelter pets euthanized every year. Sadly, we cannot guarantee that every family looking for a pet will adopt, but we can guarantee there will be space in these much needed shelters and rescues if we have our pets spayed or neutered—thereby avoiding any unwanted litters. Accidental litters contribute more than 2 million animals to pet population each year—and those are just unwanted cat litters. Imagine the numbers if we included puppy mills, which while not accidental are certainly unnecessary.
Our economy is slowly getting back on its feet, but animal rescues and shelters are really feeling the pinch. For these shelters, spaying a dog or cat costs a fraction of what it costs to house an unwanted litter of kitties or puppies. That is why so many organizations offer low-cost/high-quality spay/neuter services to underserved areas. They understand how tight money is. These rescues and shelters live with that every day. If they can help themselves and the animals they care for by helping a low-income family spay or neuter their pet, they are more than happy to do so. This is a service that can be done for little or no cost depending upon your financial situation. We simply need to make these communities aware of the opportunity.
We could save millions of lives and billions of dollars by being responsible and doing the right thing. Many of you have already had your pet spayed or neutered, and you should be proud of yourselves. This may seem like I am preaching to the choir, but the truth is that you can still help. Spread the word about what you know or learned today. Volunteer to help a shelter provide low-cost/high-quality spay/neuter services. Convince others that this is the right thing to do—not just for themselves, not just for their pet, but for all of the animals in this country.
For more information on why spay/neuter is so important, please visit SpayFirst.org.
You can also find local spay/neuter services by visiting our resources page. Plus, if you know of any organizations offering this service that we have not listed, we would love to hear about them!