Spay, neuter myths abound

Posted: Wednesday, May 03, 2000

Myth: Spaying and neutering cost too much.

Fact: The surgeries are cheaper in the long run than caring for the litters. Altered animals have fewer health problems and accidents requiring veterinary care. Owners get discounts on license fees in Kenai and Soldotna. Financial subsidies for the initial surgery costs are available in many cases through the Peninsula Animal League, the Homer Animal Friends and the Alaska Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Divided out over an animal's lifespan, the cost is only pennies a day.

Myth: She should have one litter first, to settle her down.

Fact: Having a litter won't improve her health or permanently change her personality. She may be tired and irritable while nursing, or suffer health problems from pregnancy, delivery or nursing.

Myth: I want my children to see "the miracle of birth."

Fact: Will they? Many pets hide when giving birth or do so in the middle of the night. Even if you find good homes for the litter, you may deny homes to animals already born and sentence them to premature death.

Myth: If I neuter my dog, he will stop protecting our house.

Fact: Not so. Neutering will not affect the instinct to defend the home turf. Also, the dog will be less likely to wander off.

Myth: Only females need to be "fixed," since the litters are their owners' responsibility.

Fact: But how do those pets get pregnant? A male can father hundreds of offspring. He could be injured or killed while looking for females. In some cases, the owner of a female animal could sue.

Myth: Sexual fulfillment is important to me -- how can I deny it to my pet?

Fact: Your pet won't notice a change. Don't confuse your emotional needs and relationships with a pet's instinctive responses. Dogs and cats do not form emotional bonds with mates and only pursue sex when prompted by hormonal cycles.

Myth: Spaying or neutering makes pets fat and lazy.

Fact: No, that is caused by overfeeding and lack of exercise. Altered pets do require fewer calories. Cut down on their meals a bit and make time for walks and play.

Myth: Keeping animals from having litters interferes with nature.

Fact: We have already interfered. Domestic dogs and cats have more and larger litters than wild relatives. Nature's alternatives to birth control are starvation, disease and violent death.

--Information provided by the booklet "Why spay or neuter your pet?" by Channing L. Bete Co. Inc.

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