January 21, 2011

What's wrong here. "The more dogs spay/neurtered less adopted" Hello?!

@wearethecure Thanks, for bringing my attention via your Twit on  this article. It's all about the city of Montreal, Quebec (Canada) considering a mandatory spay/neuter law. Ho hum, heard this argument so many times. It's always the same, two hot topics. Over population  is caused by irresponsible owners leaving intact dogs unsupervised. Well ya. Or the flip side, rescue groups that sanction drastically early spay/neuters (l'm talking 8 weeks people! *EEK*) possibly resulting in health complications.
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I know there are enough opinions on this discussion to fill a whole ocean. Here is a water downed summary on alternating opinions, in case you missed the swim meet.

The problem is often, and  rightfully, argued it's the owner not the dog. Some cities try to encourage owner's to spay/neuter by offering great free or reduced clinics. It can help. In the article it talks about possibly enforcing it as law with fines if not followed. Maybe. Another approach occurred to me. Bribing owner's of licenced pets with a one time tax break when they spay/neurter their pet. If the objective is to reduce overpopulated shelters, reduce puppy mill supply/demand circles, it just might work. Money talks and louder than common sense. I know, sad but true.

What is the optimal age to spay/neuter to enhance health?

Second problem as I see it, is some rescue groups insist on a spay/neuter before a puppy/kitten is released. Makes sense... at first glance. That works if the puppy/kitten is a minimum 5 or 6 months. Some rescues solve this problem by placing the animals into trusted foster care till they are old enough to be spayed. I personally think this is the best solution. Some carefully select homes where they feel comfortable the new owner will abide and spay at the appropriate age. Still a good option when executed with care.

But what happens when they rescue tiny, only week old, little puppies or kittens and insist on a spay/neuter before placing in homes?

You have a puppy who is rescued from a puppy mill where their parents are of poor health, fed sawdust diets, and in the worst imaginable, filthy environment. Why give them an even harder start in life by performing an early spay? Seems like a backwards slap to me. I know, life is not ideal. We do what we can to minimize the damage.

But what really drove it home for me in this article, was something the shelter owner said.

A few years ago, when the shelter tried sterilizing all animals it had for up adoption, the number of people wanting to adopt dropped precipitously. "It had the opposite effect of what we wanted," Couture said. "We ended up euthanizing more animals than before."
Hello? If adoption numbers drop because the animal is spayed, I think it speaks volumes.

I don't claim to have the answers. I just claim to care about animal health. Today was about confusion. Some days, I think my head will burst from the merry-go-round I find myself on, trying to find all the right answers. I may declare one day a week a no news day to give myself a break. From me.

~ Ramblings by Debbie

Go Fetch!

Early Spay/Neuter Considerations from National Animal Interest Alliance
Determining the optimal age for gonadectomy of dogs and cats
Early spay/neuter considerations for the canine athlete


houndstooth said...

I'd be curious to know what other factors played into their statistics. If a major economic downturn had just occurred, like a major employer closing and many people being out of work, then no matter what they did at the kennel, it would be hard to increase adoptions.

It's sad that adoption groups don't have the luxury of waiting a lot of times to spay and neuter puppie and kittens and that people are so untrustworthy. A small puppy or kitten is a lot more appealing to a lot of adopters than a six month old, although I agree that it's better to wait until they've grown until spaying and neutering!

hornblower said...

I have no problems with pediatric spay and neuter. Yes, there are some reports of some isolated health issues particularly with large breed dogs, but I think the bigger pet overpopulation issue needs to be looked at. This is similar to public health issues regarding vaccination: they cause a problem for a very small proportion & bring great benefits to the vast majority.

& This supposed report of adoption rates dropping - well, I really question that.

Around here (west coast) you really don't adopt intact animals out of shelters. There are a few of these old style places - esp municipal as opposed to SPCA - that do it, farther out in the valley & in the interior, but the vast majority of our shelters s/n prior to adoption & our adoption rates are very high.

& in these other places where it's not the norm, everyone is working hard to make s/n prior to adoption a reality through fundraising etc.

I'd argue the reason that Montreal saw the drop (if they did) is precisely BECAUSE of the puppy mills & byb mentality which infects Quebec & which makes everyone think that having at least a few litters (& pocketing a couple thousand $ tax free) is such a great idea. It's hardly an attitude we need to be promoting.

We have no problems here placing altered dogs & cats, so that's something to think about. It's taken as the norm that this is how it should be.

Oh & the puppies that come up in rescue here are rarely mill seizures. They're almost always a result of a pregnant female that came into rescue, was cared for throughout pregnancy, the puppies fostered & then the puppies adopted - POST spay/neuter & the mom too, spayed and adopted.

Beyond the Dog Dish said...

My childrens first dog was an adopted 6mth old labrador, surrendered to her breeder. I opted for her as she was housetrained, proved to be great with children and with 2 young children felt this was a better option. Hmm maybe next I will do a story on that - why puppy is not always the best choice.

katie, Maizey and Magnus said...

I won't begin to comment on what is right or best in this situation, I think you're very brave for addressing it!:))

I can only comment from experience, mine being Maizey spayed at 6 months, Magnus neutered (by the rescue) at 8 weeks.

They are both too young to know future health complications and I am praying for NONE in that department. But I can say Magnus seemed to suffer no ill effects from his early neuter. I was very worried because Maizey's spay was terribly hard on her and took over a week of serious, "mommy please hold me" down time to recover. So I was quite worried about my little man. He was fine! I was amazed, especially since I picked him up and we flew home less than 48 hours after his neuter and he never seemed to even notice he had anything done. His incision took no exterior stitches and was healed within a week.

I don't relate this to advocate one way or the other and when I did my research before getting him it seemed "merry-go-round" and "confusion" were about what I came up with too. For every article that was pro early neuter there was one that was con. I just decided in rescue sometimes you take your chances and he was worth it. And he is!:)) Thanks for a thoughtful post on a touchy subject.

♥I am Holly♥ said...

Interesting reading. I have always just gone by what my vet says to do or not to do. I had Holly spayed at about 6 months old...maybe a little older than that. I do remember I couldn't get a 3 year dog tag at 4 months old because she wasn't spayed...that way they could send me another bill the next December for taxes. It didn't matter that the vet said he didn't want to spay her yet. Taxes rule. Lots of love, Debbie and Holly

Beyond the Dog Dish said...

@hornblower exactly, I scratched my head too.

@kate really glad to hear that. Like you, I do know of rescues that seem just fine but sadly I know some that were affected. And it breaks my heart. I like hearing others experiences. Balance is good.

Karen Friesecke said...

I find that shelter story very odd. If I was adopting a dog, I would be view a spayed pet as an added bonus. I'm sure that there were other factors than just the spaying involved.

Soggibottom said...

I'm a follower of spaying dogs and cats. Although at the right age. Too many thoughtless owners who might think it cute for their pet to have pups and kittens.... that's it.... they don't think.... further than that !

These aren't Amie Soto Blossom's thought today, :-) they are mine :-) xxx She would say the same thing :-) x

Lori @ According to Gus said...

I'm with you on reading/listening to the news. Some days I feel like my head is going to explode.

I appreciate you tackling the issue and sharing your thoughts. I've enjoyed reading the responses. I wonder if any rescue groups/shelters offer the option to bring the dog back in to be spayed or neutered when they are older?

Rouky said...

I'm really too tired to articulate a coherent comment, but I just wanted to tell that this is an extremely important post and I love the fact that people seem passionate about this subject.
You idea about blogging about the fact that puppy is not always better is excellent.

Kolchak Puggle said...

Where we live there is a pretty good incentive to get your pups spayed/neutered. It costs almost three times as much to liscence an unaltered pet and if that pet is found unliscensed/unaltered, then the city requires the animal to be altered (at your expense through a low-cost clinic initiative) before you are able to get the animal back. Alot of rescues here include a free spay/neuter with young adoptions and require a signed contract stating the animal will be altered by their vet when the time comes or they can seize the animal and take it back.

Kristine said...

Our local SPCA pre-pays for a spay/neuter for the puppies and kittens it adopts out. The new owner will have a coupon they can use when they go the vet once the animal is of age. It doesn't guarantee a spay/neuter but it surely helps.

Our cit also has a discount on license fees for pets that are spayed or neutered with proof from a registered clinic. Again, it doesn't guarantee, but it helps.

I like you tax break idea, though. We need to think more creatively to solve this problem. In a way that will encourage, not force, people to do the right thing. Hopefully also in a way that will help animals, not harm them.

Great post! I am sorry it caused you so much stress.

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