Why, then, do so many pet owners make the wrong decision? Misconceptions are part of the problem. Contrary to what many believe, a dog or cat doesn't "need" to have a litter before being spayed. Nor will a male dog feel deprived if he gets neutered at a young age. Neutering won't make a cat or dog mean, lazy, fat, crazy or suicidal.
Get past the misconceptions
When hundreds of thousands of healthy dogs and cats have to be put to death in animal shelters every year, it's time to get past the misconceptions and the excuses.
If your pet hasn't been neutered, now is the time to get him or her to the vet.
Our humane society, with the cooperation of local veterinarians and the help of a donation from Wal-Mart, is offering a promotion in March to encourage pet owners to "March into the Vet" and do their duty to make sure their animals don't reproduce. Any pet owner may come to the Humane Society to pick up a $25 off coupon during March. The coupon may be used at any of the following Boyle County veterinarians: Nash, Cleveland & Godfrey, Heartland Veterinary Hospital, Wilderness Trace Veterinary Clinic, Animal Medical Center, Danville Animal Clinic, and Double-Doc Veterinarians. On April 1, we'll draw one of the coupons from those that were redeemed and the winner will be reimbursed for the entire cost of the surgery.
We are printing 40 of these coupons and our goal is to have every one of them redeemed. We hope this will encourage pet owners to have their pets sterilized. Yes, the surgery can be expensive, depending on the size, age and sex of the pet. But it's a one-time charge and becomes a small price to pay for the health benefits and to prevent more unwanted animals.
If you've used one of the following excuses for not having your pet spayed or neutered, please consider the following information:
*"But my pet is purebred." So are at least one-fourth of the animals brought to shelters around the country. There are just too many dogs and cats, both mixed breed and purebred.
* "I'll find good homes for all the puppies and kittens." Even if you do find homes, within six months, the majority of each litter will be reproducing - and the cycle continues.
* "I want my dog to be protective." Spaying or neutering does not affect a dog's natural instincts to protect its home and family.
* "My children should experience the miracle of birth." The lesson your children will learn, if, indeed they should actually witness the birth, is that animals can be created and discarded as it suits adults. Instead, explain to your children that preventing births of some pets can save the lives of others.
* "I want another pet just like my dog or cat." The chances of an offspring being a carbon copy of your pet are slim. Professional animal breeders who follow generations of bloodlines can't guarantee they will get just what they want from a particular litter. A pet owner's chances are even slimmer.
In light of these facts, it's hard to defend a decision to let your pet have even one litter. Please do your part to help the companion animals who depend on us. We can stop the suffering, one spay-neuter at a time.
Sallie Bright is the outreach coordinator for the Danville-Boyle County Humane Society.