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August 21, 2012 > Ohlone Humane Society: Resting on our laurels isn't an option

Ohlone Humane Society: Resting on our laurels isn't an option

By Nancy Lyon

Last spring we were all hopeful that the close to 1,000 spay/neuter surgeries OHS had financed in 2011, and countless others done by local agencies would make a huge difference in the number of companion animals and feral cats born locally.

When the much dreaded "kitten season" that normally occurs in the spring didn't produce the usual overwhelming number of kittens there was an air of hushed optimism that this year would be a significant milestone on the path toward a Lesser Kill Nation.

While the combined efforts of so many dedicated individuals made an enormous difference in reducing the number of unwanted animals born, when spring finally arrived along with warmer weather, it still brought too many innocent kittens and puppies that overflowed the shelters and rescues. The end result was that many adoptables did not find homes.

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that four million cats and dogs - about one every eight seconds - are destroyed in U.S. shelters each year. That's a pretty staggering number of innocent lives taken; many would have made wonderful companions. "The answer is too often that these animals are the offspring of cherished family pets. Spay/neuter is a proven way to reduce pet overpopulation, ensuring that every pet has a family to love them."

When you bring an animal into your family it's important to remember one of the most important decisions you will make is to spay or neuter them before they reproduce. Spaying - a surgical procedure that removes the ovaries and uterus of a female "pet" - done before her first season will greatly reduce her chance of getting mammary tumors (breast cancer) later in life. Neutering a male - by removing his testicles - is a minimal surgical procedure that will reduce his risk of testicular cancer and vastly improve his behavior and help keep him from wandering. Neither procedure will change their basic personality; they will be the same lovable companion as before, only with a better chance of living longer a life with you.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) adds the following benefits of spaying and neutering:

Spayed females won't go into heat. Unspayed female cats can go into heat for four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. To attract a mate, they yowl and frequently may spray urine everywhere!

Neutered males are less likely to want to roam looking for females. An intact male will often dig under or jump fences hoping to find a mate. Free roaming animals are at risk of injury or death in traffic and may end up in the local shelter incurring expensive fees.

Neutered males are more focused on home and family. Neutered cats and dogs focus their attention on their human families. They are less aggressive to other animals if neutered at an early age.

Spaying or neutering will NOT make your pet fat. One of the oldest and most inaccurate excuses around. Just like with you or I, diet and lack of exercise is the culprit when it comes to weight gain-not neutering.

It is highly cost-effective. Producing and caring or a litter of pups or kittens is far more expensive than spaying or neutering. It also beats the cost of treatment when your unneutered tom escapes and gets into fights with the neighborhood stray!

Spaying and neutering your animal companion is good community relations.
Stray intact animals can prey on wildlife, cause car accidents, damage the local fauna and frighten children. Having a sterilized animal greatly cuts down the number of animals on the streets.

Teaching the children the "miracle of birth" doesn't mean bringing a litter of unwanted pets into the world.

Letting your pet produce offspring you have no intention of keeping is not a good lesson for your children - especially when so many unwanted animals end up in shelters. There are tons of books and videos available to teach your children about birth in a more responsible way.

Spaying and neutering helps fight pet overpopulation. The death of millions of cats and dogs of all ages and breeds that are euthanized or suffer as strays is preventable. This is a direct result of unplanned litters that could have been prevented by spaying or neutering.

It's obvious that controlling the companion animal over-population is a war of attrition and while there are still too many animals being born into this world, we are making an enormous difference in limiting those numbers - literally hundreds and hundreds of thousands of animals, the majority that would live lives of deprivation and suffering before an early death.

So it's time to 'soldier on,' change comes slower than we would like but change for the better is coming.

Need help spaying or neutering your animal companion or assistance in limiting the feral cat population?

SPAY USA 1-800-SPAY; Ohlone Humane Society (510) 792-4587; East Bay SPCA (510) 510-639-7387; Animal Birth Control Assistance (408) 244-8351; Tri-Valley SPCA (925)479-9674.

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