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Please... Spay or Neuter Your Pet

For every human baby born in the United States each day, seven unwanted puppies and kittens are born.  There will never be enough homes for them all.

But, there is one simple and effective thing that you, and anyone else, can do to help reduce animal suffering and to reduce the number of unwanted animals in the world:

Spay or Neuter Your Pets

Every year at animal shelters in the United States, about 4.5 million dogs and cats must be euthanized (painlessly killed), simply because no one wants them. Animal euthanasia costs American taxpayers over a billion dollars each year.

The problem: only a small percentage of dogs and cats entering shelters ever get adopted, simply because there are far more available animals than there are good homes. 

The East Baton Rouge Parish Animal Control & Rescue Center must euthanize between 600 and 700 animals per month.  No one, least of all the East Baton Rouge Parish Animal Control & Rescue Center is happy about this.  This is the worst part of our job, and it could be prevented by simple spay and neuter surgery.

Sad as it is, we do recognize the importance of providing a humane end for animals who are diseased, aggressive, or simply unwanted.

Many people have great difficulty accepting this. They see the kindness in euthanizing an animal who is in great pain, or who is terminally ill. But they question why young, healthy animals must be destroyed simply because no one will take them home. They ask why the unwanted can’t live in the animal shelter indefinitely, to live out their lives in warmth and comfort, with plenty of food and good veterinary care.

Economically, this is rarely, if ever possible. Here in East Baton Rouge Parish we would have to build an additional 12,000 kennels per year, and hire enough staff to care for them, if every unwanted animal were to be placed in lifetime institutional care. 

But economics is really a secondary consideration. Animals, like humans, need more than just food, water and shelter. They need affection and companionship, too. Without it, they suffer.  A humane end is the only compassionate answer for any dog or cat who will never have a real home.

But this doesn’t have to happen. Through simple spay and neuter surgery, millions of animals would never have to be born in the first place, never be frightened and homeless, never have to be put to death just because they are unwanted.

The source of all these unwanted dogs and cats includes accidental pregnancies, amateur breeders who deliberately mate registered animals in hopes of making some quick cash, or misguided beliefs like, “I want my kids to see the miracle of birth” or “my pet won’t be healthy unless he or she mates.”

Whatever the reason, the end result is the same: far too many pets for the number of available homes.

There is simply no excuse for allowing your pet, either male or female, to cause even one litter to come into the world, unless you are willing to accept a lifetime commitment for every single animal your pet produces, and all their offspring as well.

If you refuse to spay or neuter your own pet, you must assume responsibility for your own animal. Never, ever let your pet run loose – it could become pregnant, or it could get other animals pregnant.

The answer to this tragic problem is really in your own hands. When it comes to animal overpopulation, you can be either part of the solution or part of the problem.

Be part of the solution, and have your own pets spayed or neutered right away.

Please see our list of area veterinarians elsewhere on this website. Call around, compare prices and services, and choose a veterinarian who best meets your needs.

Myths and Facts about Spaying and Neutering

All pets adopted from the East Baton Rouge Parish Animal Control Center must be spayed or neutered before leaving the shelter.  We also advise people who are reclaiming a stray pet that they should give serious thought to spaying or neutering their dog or cat.

Sometimes, people feel uncomfortable about spaying and neutering because they have outdated information or misguided ideas on the subject.  Here are the most common myths we hear from the public.

Myth:  “I want my kids to see the miracle of birth”

Fact:  Mama cat will not give birth in the middle of the kitchen floor during homework hour.  She will probably give birth behind the washing machine at 4:00am.  If you want your kids to see the miracle of birth, rent a video on the subject.  You don’t have to feed it, clean up after it, or find a home for it when it’s over.  And if your kids miss the important part, you can rewind it.

Myth:  “It’s too expensive”

Fact:  You must ask yourself honestly if you really can’t afford the surgery for your pet, or if you just have your priorities mixed up.  If you can afford a pair of expensive basketball shoes, a new DVD player, or a video game player, you can afford to spay or neuter your pet.  You must also consider the hidden cost of feeding and caring for any unwanted offspring your pet can produce. 

If you are on a severely limited budget, and truly cannot afford to spay or neuter your pet, it is still your responsibility to keep your pet from becoming pregnant if it is a female, and to keep your male from impregnating females.  This means you must keep your pet from running loose, and to keep it confined in such a manner that is does not have contact with other animals – either indoors, in a kennel, or behind a secure fence.

Don’t give up on the idea of neutering your pet because you called one veterinarian for a cost estimate and found the price to be too high for your budget.  Take time to shop around.  Call a number of different veterinarians to compare prices.  If you’re on a tight budget, explain this, and see if you can work out payments over a few months.

See our list of veterinarians elsewhere on this site for a list of phone numbers.

Myth:  “Doesn’t my dog have to have her first heat before she’s spayed?  Shouldn’t I wait six months before I neuter my male kitten?

Fact:  Long ago, most people believed it was best to allow pets to reach sexual maturity before spaying or neutering. We now know this is incorrect. Puppies and kittens can be successfully spayed or neutered as early as eight weeks of age.  Performing the surgery before the animal is physically able to reproduce completely rules out the chance of an unexpected pregnancy.  For males, neutering at an early age greatly reduces the chance that he will spray urine to mark his territory around, or inside, your house. Young animals also tend to recover from surgery quickly.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Animal Control & Rescue Center follows the American Veterinary Medical Association recommendation to spay or neuter beginning at eight weeks of age.

Myth:  “My pet won’t be healthy unless she has at least one litter”

Fact:  Spayed females tend to live longer, healthier lives than fertile females because they don’t face the risk of reproductive diseases. Giving birth does not improve your pet’s health.

Myth:  “I just can’t bring myself to neuter my male pet”

Fact:  Don’t get your own sexual identity mixed up with your pet. Neutered males do not suffer psychological problems from the surgery.  In fact, neutered males are five times less likely to bite, and much less likely to run away, than their fertile counterparts.

Myth:  “My dog will lose his hunting or retrieving abilities”

Fact:  These instincts are located in the dog’s brain – not on the other end of the dog.

In fact, an intact hunting dog can be distracted from the hunt if he smells another canine in heat.

Myth:  “My pet will get fat”

Fact:  Whether or not your pet will gain weight after spay or neuter surgery depends on diet, exercise, age and genetic factors. Take care not to overfeed your pet after surgery – many people want to comfort a pet with extra rations, “people food” and fatty treats while it’s recovering. This is not a good idea.

Make sure your pet gets enough exercise after he or she recovers. Talk to your veterinarian about a healthy diet and exercise program for your pet. And remember, walking your dog every day helps you stay fit, too.

Myth:  “My dog won’t be a good watch dog after being spayed or neutered”

Fact:  Both males and females will bark to alert their owners to danger. Spayed or neutered pets are less likely to bite. They will be as good as watch dogs after the surgery as they were before.

A dog who bites is a liability to you. In fact, it’s much more likely that an aggressive dog will bite the mailman rather than an intruder. 

Burglars and rapists count on the element of surprise. A barking lap dog is just as effective as a big, aggressive dog when it comes to making a burglar think twice about targeting your house.

Myth:  “My dog or cat will lose his manhood.”

Fact:  Your dog never had any manhood.  Only human males have manhood. He’s a dog. Intact dogs don’t laugh at castrated males.  If the appearance of intact testicles is cosmetically important to you as the owner, a veterinarian can insert silicone implants into your dog’s empty scrotum to give the appearance that he is intact.

  

Myth:  “But it’s just not natural!”

Fact:  What’s really “not natural” is having to humanely euthanize a dog or a cat just because nobody wants it.  For every human baby born in the United States each day, seven unwanted puppies and kittens are born.  There will never be enough homes for them all.  Millions of animals are euthanized (“put to sleep”) in the United States each year simply because no one wants them.   

How “natural” are you, anyway?  You probably drive to work in a car, wear clothing containing synthetic fibers, and don’t grow your own food.  And you’re visiting this website using a computer.  Please don’t confuse your own ideals about a wholesome, “natural” lifestyle with your pet’s health needs.