Nationwide, it is estimated up to 7 million dogs and cats enter animal shelters every year. Of those, 4 million must be destroyed because there isn’t enough room to house them. Oklahoma communities suffer from similar euthanasia rates, many times even greater than the national average. In Tulsa alone, approximately 7,500 animals were euthanized last year at the municipal shelter which was 65% of the animals that found their way there. Spay and neuter is a proven way to reduce the number of unwanted animals.
Unless an owner is willing to keep puppies and kittens they cannot place; take back puppies and kittens that don’t work out in their new homes; and consider the animals they produce to be their responsibility for the life of the animals, there is no guarantee that a pet’s offspring won’t end up in a shelter and ultimately be destroyed. Spay/neuter eliminates this risk.
If a pet remains intact, the risk of unintended litters exists. Even if a person doesn’t plan to breed a pet, accidental pregnancies happen. In fact, many accidental litters occur because owners thought their pet was too young to reproduce. Many of these animals end up at shelters where they are ultimately destroyed. Altering a pet will save the owner the expense and trouble of dealing with a litter of unwanted puppies or kittens, as well as prevent the destruction of unwanted animals.
Female cats and dogs as young as 5 months can become pregnant. A female’s first heat cycle can occur around 5 – 6 months. Males reach reproductive maturity around this same time. Therefore, when possible, it is recommended to spay or neuter before 5 months so that accidental litters are prevented. Generally, it is safe to spay or neuter animals 8 weeks of age or older.
The City of Tulsa has an ordinance which requires all dogs and cats over the age of six months to be spayed or neutered. Certain exemptions are allowed by permit. Other communities have similar laws.
Sterilization of cats and dogs will increase his/her chance of a longer and healthier life. It will minimize the risk of diseases associated with reproductive organs. Altering dogs will increase their life an average of 1 to 3 years; cats, 3 to 5 years.
Altering male pets decreases aggressive behavior, including dog bites and desire to fight with other males. It also reduces an animal’s desire to escape from its home in search of a mate. Sterilization also reduces or eliminates undesirable behavior such as spraying, marking and mounting, as well as the attraction of other animals who want to reproduce.
Female dogs go into heat approximately twice per year. Spaying eliminates the need to deal with messy sanitary products and take precautions to keep females away from unaltered males while the dog is in heat.
Female cats come into season three, sometimes more, times per year. Female cats in heat exhibit undesirable behavior such as yowling, pacing and nervousness. Spaying eliminates the headache of dealing with a female cat as well as the attraction of males who want to mate.