10 January 2011

Spaying and neutering your pets can be a true life saver

Did you know that hundreds of thousands of domestic animals are killed everyday in animal shelters all across the country? Euthanasia is no longer an act reserved for sick and elderly animals. Young, healthy animals are being put to sleep each day due to the devastating issue of over-population, which is a serious problem with a simple solution that incredulously, seems to fall on deaf ears. If everyone would spay their female companions and neuter their males, the issue of continual reproduction would be moot.

While hundreds of thousands of cats, dogs, and even rabbits sit in cages day after day tempting fate and facing limited resources and care, an equal amount are relegated to the streets. These animals live in harsh weather conditions, fight for food and shelter, and often die brutal deaths due to predators, hypothermia, starvation, being hit by cars, or at the hands of cruel individuals who have been known to poison, shoot, and torture animals they consider to be a nuisance on their property.

Along with the grave reality of widespread suffering, euthanasia and death, leaving your own pet’s reproductive organs "intact" also often leads to serious, painful and deadly diseases, all of which can be avoided with a simple surgery.

Females who remain unspayed are prone to Mammary Tumors, which are the equivalent to, and just as serious as breast cancer in a woman; as well as a potentially fatal condition called Pyometra, a painful infection of the uterus that if undetected and untreated will ultimately kill the animal.

Male pets are prone to Testicular Cancer, resulting in the growth of tumors on the testicles themselves, causing discomfort, swelling, and oftentimes death. Spaying and neutering your animal companions will not only keep them healthier and happier for many years to come, it will undoubtedly save the lives of the thousands of unlucky animals sitting in shelters or roaming the streets. Ask for help, do your research, and make a difference. Luckily today there are numerous organizations that offer low cost spay/neuter programs, as well as vaccination clinics, and reduced cost veterinarian care. 1-800-SPAYUSA, The Humane Society of the United States, and the ASPCA are all great places to begin. Check out your local shelters, clinics, and rescue groups. Many will have access to resources that can help families dealing with economic hardship and distress but who still want to do what is best for their pets and the animal community.

And don’t forget that although a prominent cause for over-population is the neglectful decision not to spay or neuter our pets, it is not the only poor decision that affects our animals negatively.

Choosing to adopt your animal companions from a shelter or sanctuary will not only save the life of that particular animal, but in turn save the animal that can then be rescued since your adoption freed up space for another desperate soul in need.

Choosing to purchase animals of any species from a pet shop or breeder not only contributes to the countless, daily deaths of innocent, would-be companions, but also perpetuates the horrendous puppy-mill industry. An enterprise which capitalizes on mistreatment and abusive, cruel behaviors that forcefully over breed, neglect, and often drug innocent animals so that the proprietors can charge upwards of $3,000 for a pick of the litter. And although there may be reputable, kindhearted, loving individuals who choose to breed their animals for preservation of a genetic line, or deep admiration of a life-long companion, there is no denying the serious repercussions of choosing to purchase these animals when countless more will die due to a lack of homes.

Educating yourself and being aware of the severe issues animals face daily is the first step in contributing to lasting change. Spread the word, ask for help, and treat all animals as you would your own, or even yourself. You’ll be saving thousands of lives in the process.

Erica Settino
Erica Settino is the co-founder and executive director of the non-profit organization, Karuna For Animals: Compassion In Action, Inc. A long time vegetarian turned passionate vegan, she works tirelessly to educate others on the countless benefits of adopting a vegan diet. For more information about Erica and her work visit karunaforanimals.com.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/fofurasfelinas