We have heard the pleas and the lines: "Help control the pet population: Have your pet spayed or neutered. Don't breed or buy while shelter pets die."
But not everyone is truly aware or realizes millions of shelter pets nationwide are euthanized every year. Not hundreds or thousands; Millions.
Pets end up in shelters for various reasons: moving, can't keep it, don't want it, having children, financial issues, pet behavior problems, unwanted litters and stray pets found roaming, just to give a few examples.
We put the word out and try hard to educate the public about the importance of spaying and neutering their pet but we still have an influx of dogs and cats entering our shelter.
Ask yourself: "What can I do?"
To start with, have your pet spayed or neutered. This is the only guaranteed way of preventing unwanted litters.
If your pet got out just once, the result could be more unwanted puppies and kittens that go without spaying or neutering, multiplying into more and more unwanted pets. Even if your pet had a litter of six and you were able to find homes for all six puppies or kittens, that is six less homes available for shelter pets, and the likelihood of even more unwanted births if those puppies or kittens are not spayed or neutered.
Prevention is the solution.
Unwanted strays can cause a multitude of problems by creating nuisances, getting into garbage cans, chasing people and biting them and potentially causing health and safety concerns. It is because of the efforts of the Gulf Shore Animal League working with community cats, making sure they get vaccinated and sterilized, that we have seen a steady decrease in the number of cats impounded and euthanized. We can always wholeheartedly thank them for this difficult task and their dedicated commitment to making a difference.
Some people give excuses or find reasons and arguments for not sterilizing their pets. Some, for instance, want their children to witness the miracle of birth, even though it is unlikely they will be there at that moment in time to see it happen. Instead, how about using this as an opportunity to teach your children about personal responsibility and the consequences of their actions?
Others may struggle over the cost of the spay or neuter surgery. No excuse here. There are organizations ready to help. We have the Humane So
ciety of Manatee County, the Animal Rescue Coalition and funding available through Manatee County Animal Services.
All of these organizations can provide financial assistance and offer programs for sterilization, some at no cost. If you don't have a pet and are considering one, every one of our local shelters provides the spay and neuter surgery as part of the adoption process.
There are benefits to spaying and neutering your pet. Spaying a female dog or cat helps prevent mammary cancer and urinary tract infections, especially if she has this surgery prior to her first heat. Also, she will not attract all the unwanted males around your house and yard. Neutered male dogs and cats can benefit from better health as well, including a decreased risk of testicular cancer, if neutered before 6 months of age. Your male pet will be less aggressive and less prone to wandering. Male dogs and cats that have not been neutered tend to spray and mark urine in unwanted places. Neutered pets get along better with other animals, too.
Spaying and neutering will not make your pet fat. Lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to put on some extra pounds; not spaying or neutering. Your pet will be fit and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise and maintain proper food intake.
If your dog or cat is not spayed or neutered, you do not have an excuse not to get it done. Don't be part of the problem, be part of the solution. Call our spay and neuter hotline, 941-749-3067, to listen to a recorded message containing all the information you need to get your pet spayed or neutered.
Watch for more upcoming events and adoption specials. Don't forget the ongoing BOGO special where you can adopt a dog or cat at the regular adoption fee and get a dog or cat for no adoption fee. Also, any dog or cat that has been in the shelter over 60 days is available for no adoption fee.
If you never have to look into the eyes of a dog or cat and make a choice, you are lucky. One day, we all would like to be lucky too.
Check out Manatee County Animal Services on Facebook. Like us and share us with all your friends. Our website mymanatee.org/pets has a wealth of information, including your new family member for adoption. Or call 941-742-5933 for information.
Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services, writes this weekly column for the Herald.