It’s been an interesting 6 weeks, settling into a new job, getting to know and truly appreciate all my co-workers, and moving an entire clinic into a new home. Now that the dust has settled I can kick back and begin to absorb the big change in my career. I have been practicing for 20 years and I can truly say the challenges faced by a shelter staff are far different than those of the average veterinary hospital.
For example, pet overpopulation, a problem shelters deal with on a daily basis. As a private practitioner I daily chanted the benefits of spaying or neutering to my clients: Males are less likely to roam and fight as well as get hit by cars. Neutering reduces the urge to scent mark, a plus when it comes to furniture, carpeting and walls. When the surgery is done by 6 months of age the incidence of prostate issues when they are older is lessened. Any chances of testicular cancer are gone. For the ladies, the benefits are even more pronounced. No bleeding on furniture and carpeting. No howling chorus of Romeos outside to keep the family awake all night. In the case of female cats no yowling for Prince Charming period. No late night expensive emergency c-sections because of a stuck puppy or kitten. Even better if spaying is done by 6 months of age, the incidence of breast cancer is almost eliminated. The risk of a pyometra, a life threatening uterine infection seen in older unsprayed females, is totally eliminated as are the risks of ovarian and uterine cancer.
Here though at the Sanctuary, as in all shelters, there is more concern with numbers due to space and cash restraints, and the numbers are staggering to the imagination; six to eight million animals are surrendered to shelters each year in this country. Yes, you read them right 6,000,000 to 8,000,000 animals. Even more disturbing is the simple truth that roughly only half of these animals will find homes. That’s right…only half, which means three to four million animals are killed each year for the “crime” of being born. Holy cow…I knew pet overpopulation was bad, but never really thought about it. Never came face to face with it as I have now. How did this happen? I did find a website that helped me do the math. If you were to allow two dogs and their offspring to reproduce unchallenged you would have about 67,000 dogs in 6 years. For cats it would be about 420,000 in 7 years. Hmmm…mind blowing…a single surgical procedure on a single animal can have such impact, not only by creating a happier and healthier family member, but can help reduce these staggering statistics. Be a hero, and reduce “littering”. Spay or neuter your pet.