A few days ago I hit a point of exhaustion. I don’t know if the extra schoolwork pushed me over or if I have somehow settled into a depressing reality.
I worry that I will never see the day when every pet has a home.
When we think of the homeless pet population, we think of puppy mills. These horrible places that absolutely need to be shut down. However, we don’t always remember another important factor: accidental litters.
It seems like there is always a passionate debate in the pet world. Right now it’s to wait (or even forgo) to spay/neuter.
The reality is that very few of us are equipped to handle intact dogs. Over and over and over I chat with individuals that have decided to wait to fix their dogs and have ended up with unplanned litters. Sometimes the two dogs were in the same house and sometimes a dog jumped a fence to mate. I have even heard of dogs chewing through metal fencing to mate.
I’m not going to get into the research on traditional (6 months) or delayed (2 years) spay/neuter because it leaves out a few key components: genetics, nutrition, and lifestyle. I truly do not believe that there will ever be a definitive “right” answer. Instead, when people are deciding when to fix their pet, I want them to consider these questions:
- Do I understand the female dog reproductive cycle?
- Will I be able to notice when my female comes into heat? A bloody discharge is not always apparent.
- Is my dog able to be constantly and effectively supervised? A dog can leap a fence or break through a window to find a mate in seconds.
- Do I know the benefits/detriments of different spay/neuter times (e.g. cancer, behavior, etc.)? Scholarly journals should be read and evaluated – not what you find in a Google search.
- Do I trust my vet’s judgment? If not, you should probably find a new vet 😉
- Can I be 100% certain that an accidental litter will not occur? This means not only considering your dog, but the many other dogs around you. Unfortunately, we cannot fool ourselves into thinking that every person will be just as responsible.
After answering these 6 questions, those debating when to spay/neuter their dog should have a better idea of their options.
Maybe if we become honest with ourselves, we can prevent accidental litters and lower the amount of homeless pets. I will never stop trying to reach that goal.