The Importance of Sterilization

Why Spay or Neuter?

 Reduce Euthanasia:  Each year an estimated 4 to 6 million unwanted dogs and cats are euthanized. There simply aren't enough good homes for them all.  Even those that are lucky enough to find a home may not be lucky enough to keep it and end up back in the shelter system again. Approximately twenty-five percent (25%) of these animals in shelters are purebreds.
 

Society:   Other equally tragic problems resulting from pet overpopulation include the transformation of some animal shelters into "warehouses," acceptance of cruelty to animals as a way of life in our society, and the stress that many shelter workers endure as a result of having to euthanize one animal after another.  Unfortunately, so many living creatures are cuddled when cute, but become abandoned and thrown away when they become inconvenient.
 

Community:   Animals who are abandoned and stray, and are able to survive, live in alleys and streets of both cities and suburbs.  These animals pose a threat to the health of humans and other animals by getting into trash, defecating in public areas and/or lawns, and spreading disease.  Some scare away or prey upon wildlife, such as birds, in order to survive.  They innocently cause anger to people who have no comprehension of their misery or of their needs.
 

Economic:   Countless tax dollars currently used to house and euthanize animals each year can be redirected to other programs.
 

Medical:   In addition to its impact on pet overpopulation, having your pet spayed/neutered provides many medical and behavioral benefits:

  • Spaying greatly reduces chances of breast cancer and eliminates the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer, as well as uterine infection.
  • Neutering prevents testicular tumors in males, helps to prevent other prostate problems, and decreases the likelihood of hernias.  Neutered males are less likely to roam, reducing the chance of bite wounds and diseases caused by fighting. 
  • Making sure your pets are spayed or neutered helps to reduce some behaviors associated with unsterilized pets such as aggressiveness, spraying, roaming, etc.

Myths & Facts

Myth:   "It is better for her to have one litter first."
Fact:   Medical evidence proves that females spayed before their first heat are typically healthier and prevents disease such as ovarian cancer and pyometra.


Myth:   "My pet will get fat and lazy."
Fact:   Pets get fat and lazy as a result of a lack of exercise or their owner's feeding them too much.


Myth:  "But my pet is a purebred."
Fact:   She or he's not the only one.  At least one out of every four pets brought to animal shelters are purebred.  Mixed or purebred….there are just too many!


Myth:  "I'll find homes for all the puppies and kittens."
Fact:  That may be, but for each home you find for your puppies or kittens, that means one less home for the dogs and cats already waiting in shelters.  And, unless you are willing to spay or neuter each of them before you place them, in less than one year's time, each of your pet's offspring may have his or her own litter.  This means you are adding to the pet overpopulation problem!  


Myth:  "I want my dog to be protective."
Fact:   A dog's natural instinct to protect home and family is not affected by spaying or neutering. A dog's personality is more influenced by genetics and environment than by sex hormones.


Myth: "A female dog or cat only comes into heat once a year."
Fact: Dogs go into heat, which lasts about 3 weeks, once or twice a year at as early as 6 months of age. Cats experience heat every 34 weeks from early spring through fall, starting as young as 4 months. Pregnancy for both cats and dogs lasts 63 days, and female cats can become pregnant as soon as 10 days after giving birth, while still nursing.


Myth:  "It's too expensive to have my pet spayed or neutered."
Fact: There are many low-cost spay/neuter programs and facilities available.  And when you compare the cost of the one-time surgery to the cost of future medical care that can arise as a result of not having your pet spayed or neutered as she or he ages, it's worth it!

Pediatric Spay & Neuter

 There are many advantages to sterilization prior to the traditional six months of age.  Animals spayed or neutered at eight to ten weeks of age benefit from less stress and a quicker recovery from surgery.  At this age, absence of abdominal fat makes the procedure take less time than in older patients.  This means less trauma to the animal, as less tissue is disturbed, and less time is spent under anesthesia.  In addition, recovery from anesthesia is more rapid.

Sterilizing puppies and kittens prior to adoption by shelters and animal humane organizations ensures that they will not produce litters once they have been placed in homes.

Early age spay/neuter has been performed by professionals for many years. The procedure is endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, and the state veterinary medical associations in California, Nevada, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, to name a few.  Other supporters include the American Kennel Club and the Cat Fanciers' Association.

As with any medical procedure at any age, each animal's individual overall physical condition is the determining factor as to whether she or he should undergo anesthesia. 

It's The Law!

The City of Richmond has a breeding ordinance that is currently in effect requiring all dogs and cats over the age of four months to be spayed and neutered.  If you do not have your dogs and cats spayed and neutered by this age, you are required to purchase a breeding license from the City.  The cost of the license is $100 per animal, per year.  Failure to comply with either of these regulations may result in a $100 fine per animal, per incident.

The purpose of this ordinance is to make the public aware of the tremendous overpopulation of dogs and cats and to make owners responsible for their pets' contribution to the problem.  The goal of this ordinance is to control the number of animals breeding so that fewer will be without homes or euthanized.