This month we’re talking about spaying and neutering pets and the benefits it has not only to pet health, but in helping to reduce the stray pet population, which is currently at more than 150 million cats and dogs in the U.S.
Every year, approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter shelters. Of those 7.6 million, 2.7 million are adopted, and 2.7 million are euthanized. Only 649,000 of the 7.6 million are pets that had either run away or escaped and were returned to their owners.
Most of the 2.7 million animals euthanized every year are healthy and adoptable, but because there aren’t enough homes these dogs and cats don’t ever find their forever family.
Overpopulation of companion animals costs millions of dollars per year. Collecting and sheltering these cats and dogs that roam the streets costs about $100 per animal.
Besides the monetary cost, though, we animal lovers hate to see homeless cats and dogs without a loving home. Most of the cats and dogs on the streets are not spayed or neutered (only 10% of strays come into shelters already spayed or neutered) and will continue to reproduce, growing the number of strays that must fend for themselves.
Why is spaying and neutering important?
There are medical and behavioral benefits to getting your pet spayed or neutered:
Less companion pets on the streets - Shelters are full of dogs and cats looking for homes. By spaying or neutering your dog or cat, you can make sure that your dog or cat won’t be contributing to the overpopulation problem.
A reduction in certain cancers - For both males and females, spaying or neutering significantly decreases the risk of cancers that affect the reproductive organs. Pets who don’t have cancer typically live longer – cats by an average of three to five years and dogs by one to three years.
An improvement in overall behavior - For males, one of the most obvious difference between neutered animals and those that are not is the need to “roam.” Animals who are NOT neutered are more likely to escape from a fenced yard or roam the neighborhood if given the chance. This is because of a need to mate and the behavior can naturally lead to auto accidents where pets are injured, as well as fighting between animals. Overall, males may also be more “chill” if they are neutered. Surges in testosterone can contribute to increased aggression or dominance, marking of territory, and difficulty training and controlling.
What else can you do?
We can all take part in reducing the number of homeless cats and dogs wandering our streets or living in our shelters. In addition to spaying and neutering our own pets, we can also:
- Adopt the perfect furry friend for your family instead of going through a breeder.
- Foster a pet through a local shelter.
- If you choose to let your dog have puppies or your cat have kittens, do so responsibly. After birth, the babies require love and attention – and money. Make sure you are able to take care of all the babies until a forever home can be found.
- Talk to your friends about adopting a pet. Studies show that word of mouth is a popular way to find a pet, so chat with your neighbors and encourage them to adopt from a local shelter.
- If you don’t have a pet, or it’s not the right time to adopt, consider donating to the PEDIGREE Foundation. We support shelters in their efforts to spay or neuter the animals that come into the shelter which helps decrease overpopulation.
Many animals have been on the streets since they were born and have never experienced a warm loving home. Let’s work together to reduce the number of homeless companion animals by spaying and neutering our pets or donating to local shelters giving them the funds to take care of and spay and neuter strays that come into the shelters.