It is nearly springtime again and along with hearing the birds singing and the bees buzzing it is a busy time for animal shelters to have many puppies and kittens brought in. The nice weather and warmer temperatures after a long winter encourage many owners to let their animals outside. This is wonderful for the animal too, unless they are not spayed or neutered.

Unfortunately, an estimated 2.7 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year due to overpopulation according to the Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Even being a purebred dog does not give that animal a safe ticket to a new home as 25% of the 55% of dogs and puppies being put down are purebreds. 71% of cats and kittens entering shelters are put down each year. In the U.S. 70,000 puppies and kittens are born each day compared to the 10,000 human babies born daily. There simply are not enough homes for each animal.

Spaying or neutering is the solution to this overpopulation problem. Consult your veterinarian to determine the age at which the spay or neuter process for your pet can occur. Spaying is for the female and it is the removal of both ovaries and the uterine horns. Neuter is for males and it is the removal of both testicles. These operations are not painful because the animal is under anesthesia. When the animal wakes up it is usually back to its normal activity within 24-72 hours.

There are many benefits to your pet’s health when you spay or neuter. For the female there will not be the heat cycles twice a year that can leave bloodstains on the floor and it will reduce shedding. There will be no chance of her developing Pyometra-a uterine infection that causes many deaths in unspayed females. Also her chances of developing breast cancer and mammary tumors will be minimal. For males, neutering keeps him from developing testicular cancer. This means less money could be spent on medical bills for your pet. There is also a reduced city pet registration fee for sterilized animals ($5 annual fee for spayed or neutered pet OR $100 not fixed) and the behavior modifications are rewarding.

Sterilization does not change your pet’s personality or cause weight gain as many myths suggest. Any changes brought about by spaying or neutering are generally positive. There is a reduction of many behavioral issues. Neutered male cats usually stop territorial spraying. This leads to a reduction of roaming and finding females in heat. Research shows that 80% of dogs hit by cars are un-neutered males. The idea that males do not need neutered because they do not give birth is misleading. While females can only have one litter at a time, male animals can impregnate many females each day. Males being neutered leads to less aggression and they are less likely to bite. Spayed and neutered animals make better pets and are more loyal to their families. Spaying and neutering also saves taxpayer dollars. It costs over $100 dollars to capture, house, feed, and euthanize a homeless animal and when your looking at over 7.5 million animals a year, it all ads up.

Spaying and neutering is not as expensive as many pet owners think. There are many communities with sterilization programs and one can usually find a low cost spay and neuter clinic in their area. Including SNAP, which stands for Spay Neuter Assistance Program. Asking your veterinarian about programs that provide aid is a good place to start. Encouraging friends and neighbors to spay or neuter their pets is beneficial to their animals and will also keep your pets safe.