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Many good reasons to spay or neuter your pet, no good reason not to

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If you Google "spay/neuter" you'll find many good reasons to spay or neuter your pet, and not one single good reason not to. With warm weather on the way, if you have a pet that is over six months old, now is the time to make that appointment to spay a female pet or neuter a male pet.

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Spay/neuter is the number one way to address the fact that 800 animals an hour are killed in shelters across the country because they have no home and no one has come to adopt them. In Wichita, 19,393 animals went through the Murfin Animal Campus in 2012 of which 54% were euthanized. This total does not take into account stray or surrendered animals that were taken in by rescues, individuals, and Lifeline Animal Placement & Protection no kill shelter.

The health benefits

Males--prevents testicular cancer and greatly reduces the risk of perianal tumors; discourages roaming to find a female which brings its own dangers from other animals or being hit by a car.

Females--prevents breast, ovarian and uterine cancer; prevents pyrometra--a uterine bacterial infection that can be expensive to treat and fatal if not treated.

The behavioral benefits

  • Done early enough, it discourages marking (with urine), especially in male pets
  • Reduces male aggression
  • Prevents agitated pacing and crying in females
  • Roaming to find a mate in both males and females
  • Overall temperament of your pet is often positively affected

There is no veterinary evidence that spaying or neutering before six months of age has any detrimental effect on normal development. Many shelters and rescues, including the Kansas Humane Society, will spay/neuter as young as eight weeks, as long as the animal is healthy and weighs at least two pounds.

Veterinary research and evidence recommends spay/neuter prior to the first estrus cycle for females, as each cycle increases the chance of breast and uterine cancer, with the risk increasing to 25% by the third cycle. Female dogs can "go into heat" as early as six months. Once behaviors as a result of hormonal changes begin, there is no guarantee they will stop once a pet is spayed or neutered. It's best to prevent the behavior before it starts.

There is no reason for cats or dogs to have a litter of kittens or puppies to live a long, healthy and happy life. Further, those who think they want to demonstrate the "miracle of birth" to their children do exactly the opposite by allowing a pet to have babies--it tells them that animals are disposable at will. And consider this, one cat having two litters in a year, her mate, and with an average of 2.8 surviving kittens per litter will produce 370,092 cats in seven years if none are spayed or neutered. One dog and her mate and all of their offspring, if none are spayed or neutered, will produce 67,000 dogs in six years.

In Wichita, spay/neuter cost is not an excuse. The cost of caring for a litter can easily run $300 and if there is any complication during the birth, veterinary bills can run over $1,000. With several low-cost spay/neuter options, households with annual income of under $40,000 can access low-cost services through the Kansas Humane Society and Spay-Neuter Kansas. RETAIN (responsible and ethical treatment of animals in neighborhoods), raises funds to provide discount and free spay/neuter service vouchers.

At KHS, surgeries are done seven days a week and are $40 for cats, $55 for male dogs, and $65 for female dogs. The KHS will also do spay/neuter surgeries on rabbits. Low-cost services are made possible in part by a grant from the Petco Foundation. In addition, at KHS, the Let's Stay Together program may include spay/neuter, training classes, and help with behavioral problems to help people keep their pets. This program is conducted with the help of funds from Banfield Veterinary.

Spay-Neuter Kansas schedules surgeries on Wednesday each week, at $30 for cats, $40 for small dogs, $40 for neuter for large dogs and $50 to spay a large dog. Spay-Neuter Kansas also offers low-cost vaccinations at the time of the surgery. If even this cost would be a financial difficulty, Spay-Neuter Kansas encourages pet owners to contact them to discuss grants that may be available. This service is made possible by donations from the community.

Both programs have information on their respective web sites for proof of income to qualify. You can find a list of veterinarians on the KHS web site that have designated they also offer low-cost spay neuter services to find one that may be more convenient for you.

For those who do not qualify for low-cost services, the cost for a cat neuter with rabies shot starts at $70 and a spay with shots (including feline leukemia) starts around $100 in the Wichita area, with dog surgeries varying by size. Compared to the cost of caring for a litter, injuries from roaming, or the risk of cancer later in life for a pet, the cost of spaying/neutering your pet is a good investment in your pet's health.

If you have adopted your pet, Wichita area rescues and shelters all spay or neuter, ensure your pet has all its shots and a microchip. Further, if you live in Wichita city limits, the cost of the license for your dog is reduced if your dog is spayed or neutered.

Please don't be one of the 20% of pet owners who say their pet has had one or more litters contributing to the the millions of animals being euthanized in shelters. There is no good reason for your pet not to be spayed or neutered.

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