With millions of unwanted animals losing their lives in shelters around the country each year, clearing up some common misconceptions about spaying and neutering that pet owners have is a very crucial part of humane education. Below are some of the common objections people raise when they are urged by animal rescue workers to alter their pets, and the facts provided to overcome these objections.
Myth: Spaying or neutering will make my pet fat and lazy. The truth is: Pets become overweight for the same reasons people do: overeating and not getting enough exercise. Don’t overfeed your pet, and be sure that he/she gets plenty of play time and has lots of interesting toys to play with.
Myth: My cat/dog should have one litter first. The truth is: There is no medical evidence to support the theory that having a litter before spaying is good for a cat or dog. On the contrary, females spayed before their first heat cycle have a greatly reduced occurrence of breast cancer. If the reason you want your pet to have puppies or kittens is so that your children can witness “the miracle of birth” then contact your local no-kill rescue organization and foster a pregnant cat or dog. Many no-kill organizations take in pregnant animals, and are always desperately seeking foster homes for them. Usually the rescue organization will cover any veterinary expenses involved with the foster animal and her litter, and many will even provide food and litter for the animals in their foster system.
Myth: I can find good homes for the puppies and kittens. While you may believe that you will be able to get friends, relatives, and acquaintances to adopt the first litter, how many of the offspring will really have a good home for life? What about subsequent litters? Will the person taking the offspring take responsibility to get the animal vet care when needed, and alter the puppy or kitten…or will the animal produce litters of its own, thus adding to the growing tragedy of pet overpopulation? Kittens and puppies given away for free often end up in research labs or used in dog fighting rings as bait, so don’t EVER advertise free puppies or kittens.
Myth: My pet is a purebred, so I don’t want to alter him/her. The sad truth is, at least one fourth of the animals that enter our shelters each year are also purebred pets. They are often purchased from a puppy mill or high priced breeder and then become abandoned or given up when they become inconvenient. If you are looking for a purebred pet, most shelters actually have lists where potential owners can sign up and be notified when the breed they are looking for comes in. There are also many breed-specific rescue groups that exist to help unwanted purebreds. If you must have a purebred, save a life and adopt one from a shelter or breed-specific rescue organization.
Myth: I cannot afford to get my pet fixed. The truth is: How can you afford NOT to? Spaying or neutering is a one-time cost, which greatly benefits the animal, you, and your community. Many organizations offer low cost spay/neuter help. In fact, if you live in Florida you can visit http://www.spayneuterpets.com. This site is a directory of Florida low cost programs, organized by county. Even if you are not a Florida resident, there are national links provided on this site so that residents in other states can find assistance as well. Because your pet will be less likely to develop certain cancers later in life, and altered males are much less likely to fight (and become injured), in the long run you will most likely save on vet bills. Also, the financial costs incurred by county agencies to euthanize unwanted animals run high…and their expenses to euthanize these animals are passed on to us, the taxpayers.