(NAPSI)—Pet owners can help put an end to a sad situation: Each year, thousands of kittens and puppies wind up in shelters as a result of accidental litters from pets that are not spayed or neutered. While they may be small in size, these unplanned offspring have a giant impact on a community, including higher costs to taxpayers for the community to trap and transport homeless litters to shelters, higher costs for shelters to house, feed and care for these pets and shelter overcrowding—which increases euthanasia rates.
An estimated 11,000 pets in this country are euthanized daily, according to a PetSmart Charities study—that’s half of the 8 million pets that land in shelters each year.
Not all of these pets start out homeless. Half of U.S. pet owners who’ve had a pregnant dog or cat say the pregnancy happened “by accident,” according to statistics from the study. These accidental litters could be easily avoided by early spaying and neutering.
Philip Bushby, a veterinarian and professor of shelter medicine at Mississippi State University, believes that spaying and neutering pets at an early age not only reduces the economical and societal impact of pet homelessness, but also improves the long-term health of the pet.
“Most puppies and kittens can safely be spayed or neutered at as early as 8 to 10 weeks of age. If you wait longer, you’re risking an unplanned litter,” Dr. Bushby said, adding that early spaying and neutering is good for pets, with benefits such as:
• Reduced aggression: Cats and dogs that have been spayed/neutered are less aggressive than unaltered pets, which means fewer fights, less risk of contracting contagious diseases and lower vet bills.
• Wandering: Pets that aren’t fixed are more likely to stray away from home in search of a mate. Spaying and neutering reduces this urge, keeping your pet close to home and out of harm’s way.
• Less marking: Dogs and cats mark with urine when they are trying to “claim” their territory—like your couch. After a spay/neuter operation, pets become less territorial, and this behavior decreases dramatically.
• Fewer health problems: “Pets that have been fixed are less likely to develop mammary and reproductive cancers, as well as some potentially fatal infections,” said Dr. Bushby. And, there’s evidence that the earlier it’s done, the better. “Contrary to belief, having the surgery performed before your pet’s first heat period actually amplifies these benefits.”
Convinced that spaying/neutering is right for your pet, but worried about the cost? An online spay/neuter services locator can help you find clinics that perform high-quality, affordable spay/neuter surgeries in this area. Go online to www.PetSmartCharities.org and click on Spay/Neuter. The site also provides resources to combat pet homelessness and to donate to programs that support local shelters.
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