I’ve heard the comment far too often, “Oh, I don’t want to spay Sheba,” or “I just can’t bear to neuter Rex” because—because—here it comes—because they “just want to let them have a little fun!
Here’s the thing. Sex for animals is not analogous in humans, as far as being a pleasurable, recreational activity. For animals, procreation is a drive, and the drive is there to ensure the species reproduces and continues. As to whether it is “fun” or not, I can’t even begin to say. I do not think it is analogous to humans.
The canine and feline species have done very, very well. Too well, in fact. The are millions of feral cats, which pose a problem in that they may harbor disease, get into the garbage, spray bushes and mark other territories, and generally become nuisances. My husband and I have rescued feral cats which became absolutely loving and wonderful, but it was difficult to capture them, and I got bit once, requiring shots, as a cat’s mouth harbors an amazing number of germs. It was worth the bite and the shot, but they can be a nuisance.
As for dogs, a group of homeless, wild dogs will form packs, and they can be quite dangerous, because they hunt in packs. They destroy pets, livestock, and they, too, may harbor disease. Worse, they are more likely to attack without much provocation than a cat, and the bite is more destructive.
I absolutely adore cats and dogs, and I can’t bear to think of them hungry, cold, frightened, and often abandoned. About six years ago, I was on my way to a business meeting and saw two dogs running together along the road. One was limping badly. I stopped the car and approached, and the showed all the signs of friendliness so I invited them into my car. It was a frigid day, and the got in gratefully. I was several hours from home and didn’t know where the animal shelter was, but I stopped at a grocery store and found out and got a bag of dog food—free. The manager happened to like dogs. I delivered the dogs, who seemed to be good buddies, to the shelter, and a quick once-over showed that the dog had had apiece of metal embedded in his foot. The veterinarian who cared for that shelters animals happened to be there, so he numbed the foot and removed the metal and gave the dog a tetanus shot.
I tried to feel good about this, but I didn’t, because I thought of all the other animals who have no home. Feral animals are not those who have simply been abandoned (and THAT topic will wait for another time) but are born of animals who had no home. Cats have better resources of surviving than dogs, and they reproduce rapidly.
All of this is by way of saying, NEUTER YOUR ANIMALS. You may have a cat or dog which you think is so pretty, she or he could win a show, but unless you have paid an enormous sum of money to a reputable, quality breeder, s/he won’t. Even if you paid a goodly sum for your animal, the fact is that not that many animals fit the standard that judges look for.
Spaying isn’t cruel, nor is neutering. In fact, neutering a male dog decreases his chances of developing certain cancers, and he will be a gentler animal. If an unneutered animal smells a female in heat, he will go to any lengths to get to her. As well, an unsprayed cat or dog will jump through windows, rip screens, and risk danger just to satisfy the extraordinary drive to reproduce.
There are millions of feral animals. But we can stop it, gradually, if we just take the time and make the effort to prevent the animal from reproducing. If you find a feral animal, if you can safely contain it, take it to your veterinarian’s for neutering. Sure, it’ll cost you a few bucks, but you will have prevented countless more animals that go through live unloved and with human companionship.
So -- one final time. Spay or neuter your animals.
By Gay Fifer, owner of Parsley Hollow, Inc.
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