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Why Is It Important to Spay or Neuter Your Pet?

If you have a pet or are thinking of adopting, one of the most important decisions you can make for their health, safety, and happiness (as well as the betterment of your local community), is to get your pet spayed or neutered. According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are an estimated 6-8 million homeless animals entering animal shelters every year in the US alone. Tragically, almost 4 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters annually.

Did you know that one intact female cat and her mate can produce a litter of up to 12 kittens? Her progeny can grow to over 11,000 in just 5 years. And just one unaltered female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in only 6 years!

Having your pet spayed or neutered is the only permanent, 100% effective method of birth control for your furry loved ones.

The Benefits of Spay and Neuter

There are several reasons why having your pets spayed or neutered is important. First, it helps reduce the number of homeless pets who are killed each year in America’s shelters.

While many shelters are over-populated year-round, it is especially problematic in the spring, which is commonly referred to as “kitten season” among seasoned animal care veterans. While many facilities have adopted no-kill policies in recent years, there are still millions of animals that are euthanized annually due to overpopulation issues within local communities. Reducing the number of pets entering shelters has a direct impact on the number of euthanized pets.

Unfortunately, some people feel that, because their pet does not come in contact with other animals, it does not need to be neutered or spayed. But there are many other benefits to having pets fixed besides preventing unwanted litters. Plus, accidents happen—even when pet owners are diligent about keeping their pets away from intact animals.

Spay and neuter procedures are routine and safe surgical procedures that can help prevent medical and behavioral problems from developing in your pets.

Spay and neuter procedures helps curb bad behavior in animals. Intact dogs are much more prone to urine-marking than neutered dogs. Additionally, an intact male will aggressively seek a mate, often making Houdini-like attempts to escape from the house.

Intact cats (both male and female) also have extremely strong urges to spray, mark territory, or roam to seek a mate. Male cats that are still intact are much more likely to fight with other males, while female cats go through estrus (heat) and will howl and attempt to escape during this cycle. In both cats and dogs, the longer you wait, the greater the risk you run of creating ingrained patterns of negative behavior.

Another benefit to your furry companions is an increased longevity of altered pets. Pets that have been spayed or neutered have reduced risks of developing certain types of cancers. Intact female cats and dogs have a far greater chance of developing uterine infections, as well as uterine and ovarian cancer. Male pets who are neutered eliminate their chances of getting testicular cancer, and it is thought they have lowered rates of prostate cancer, as well.

Our Services

BCARL provides outstanding veterinary care, adoption, and field services in order to help families become better equipped at being responsible pet owners. We manage several programs that assist us in achieving our mission.

Currently, because of the restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our available services have been temporarily reduced, but we look forward to being able to offer full services in the future.

We're proud to partner with the Rascal Unit to provide low cost spay and neuter options in the Ohio Valley. Spay Neuter Clinics are scheduled throughout the year and offer low cost options for spay and neuter services in addition to vaccinations, dental work, and other surgeries. Clinics were postponed through spring but we hope to be able to provide these services again in the near future. We also have a Spay and Neuter Assistance Program to help those who require financial assistance in having their pets spayed or neutered. Additionally, in the past we’ve managed an active Feral Cat Trap, Neuter, and Return (TNR) Program, which works to control the populations of feral and community cats in Belmont County. Our TNR offers assistance to caregivers who are providing food, water, and shelter to feral cats in their community. At this time we support community efforts to TNR by lending out our traps and offering advice, as well as low cost spay and neuter clinics through the Rascal Unit.

Common Myths

Myth: Female pets should have one litter before spay surgery.

Truth: There is no evidence that allowing female pets to have a litter helps them in any way. In fact, spaying female dogs and cats before their first heat cycle eliminates their risk of ovarian or uterine cancer, and it also greatly reduces their risk of mammary cancer. Males neutered early in life have less of a risk of prostate infections.

Myth: Spaying or neutering pets causes them to get fat or lazy.

Truth: Lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to pack on extra pounds—not neutering. Your pet will remain healthy if you continue to provide exercise and monitor his or her food intake. Spaying or neutering pets removes sex hormones, which in turn can decrease metabolism. However, pets generally become overweight due to lack of an appropriate diet and sufficient exercise, not from being spayed or neutered.

Myth: Spaying or neutering my animal will make him or her feel less male or female.

Truth: Animals have no concept of sexuality, and spaying or neutering will not cause your pet emotional stress or change your pet’s natural disposition. In fact, usually pets who have been spayed or neutered have less aggression and a more even temperament.

Myth: Spaying or neutering will make dogs and cats less affectionate.

Truth: Freed from the urge to mate, dogs and cats tend to be calmer and more content after spaying or neutering. Spayed or neutered dogs and cats are more, not less, likely to show affection toward their human companions.

There are many myths surrounding spaying and neutering. However, these safe surgical procedures not only enhance the lives and health of your pets, but also the lives of homeless animals in local communities and in shelters. Spaying or neutering is one of the greatest gifts you can provide your pets, your family, and your community, and it is a critical part of saving the lives of homeless pets.

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