Take a walk down the crowded rows of an animal shelter to see just how serious the pet overpopulation problem in the U.S. remains. Sadly, we have reached a point where there’s controversy over whether or not spaying and neutering animals is a sound practice. However, not only is spaying and neutering animals the clear solution to pet overpopulation, but the health benefits of altering pets are also undeniable. Spaying and neutering animals is essential to eliminate the killing and abandonment of companion pets without homes. In fact, the greatest act of kindness would be to create policies and resources to make this procedure possible for all pet owners, not to abandon our progress.
In the United States alone, pet overpopulation is an urgent problem. Each year, millions of dogs and cats are euthanized due to overpopulation as a result of irresponsible and ignorant pet ownership. The health benefits of spaying and neutering animals are also undeniable. According to the Humane Society, the life expectancy of neutered male dogs is 13.8% longer and 26.3% longer for spayed female dogs. Similarly, spaying and neutering animals greatly decreases the risk of some illnesses such as benign prostatic hyperplasia and testicular cancer. Undeniably, spaying and neutering pets is the most effective option for reducing the tragic number of innocent unwanted animals killed every day and provides health benefits for animals.
With the facts supporting the positive impact of spaying and neutering pets clear, those denouncing this practice and promoting unproven alternatives are only exacerbating the problem without providing a solution. For example, some people argue for injectable sterilants over spaying and neutering animals. This option stems from the idea that desexing animals is unnecessary. Regardless, this alternative would not be nearly as effective because it is experimental, less accessible, and requires maintenance. Another alternative proposed is vasectomies and tubal ligations. These operations reduce birth rates without affecting the hormones of the animal. However, these operations are also less common, more complicated, and more expensive than spaying and neutering. Opponents to spaying and neutering unfortunately provide no practical solutions. Because this pet overpopulation problem is so serious, there isn’t room to be experimental. There is an effective solution already established.
Instead, if state and local governments contributed funding and resources towards making spaying and neutering clinics available to all, lower income pet owners wouldn’t be left out of the equation. In the U.S., the operation to spay or neuter an animal typically costs at least $200. Although animals who are adopted through shelters are altered, countless stray animals never enter a shelter. Show animal owners and breeders obviously don’t alter their animals, but they also don’t take any responsibility for the kittens and puppies that are produced. More education and reduced-cost or free services are desperately needed.
Spaying and neutering animals is the undisputed answer to the problem of pet overpopulation. Longer life spans, decreased risk of illness, and better behavior are all additional benefits of spaying and neutering pets. The problem is complex, but the solution is simple. Let’s keep it that way.