According to the ASPCA, approximately 3-4 million companion animals are euthanized every year. While only about 10 percent of the pets received by shelters have been spayed or neutered, approximately 78% of pet dogs and 88% of pet cats have been altered. Most responsible pet guardians are aware of the importance of spaying or neutering their pets, both to reduce the problem of pet overpopulation and for the health and behavioral benefits for the pet. However, there are still those that choose not to spay or neuter their pets. What are some of the most common reasons that people don’t alter their pets?
Many people believe that spaying or neutering will change the personality of their pet, or make the pet become “fat and lazy.” Altering your pet can actually have a positive impact on your pet’s behavior as it reduces aggression, the desire to roam, and spraying or marking behavior. Pets become overweight from lack of exercise and overeating.
There are those pet guardians who still believe that a pet should be allowed to have “just one” litter. It is a myth that female dogs or cats should have a litter or go through at least one heat cycle for health reasons before being spayed. While it may seem harmless to allow your pet to have a litter, there are simply not enough homes for all of the homeless animals now, so allowing your pet to breed only adds to the problem. Even if homes are found for all of the puppies or kittens in the litter, this takes a home away from another pet in need.
Some pet owners are confused about the proper age to spay or neuter their pet. If you spay or neuter your pet before reaching sexual maturity, you can reduce the risk of mammary or prostate diseases, and prevent uterine, ovarian or testicular cancer in your pet. While some parents want their children to witness the “miracle of birth,” responsible pet ownership can be a much more valuable lesson to teach your children.
In these difficult financial times, there are pet owners who feel they cannot afford to spay or neuter their pet. However, the cost to care for and raise just one litter of puppies or kittens usually exceeds the cost of spaying or neutering. Most communities have shelters or clinics that offer low-cost spay and neuter procedures.