Fox Valley Animal Welfare League
Statistics on Pet Overpopulation
Number of cats and dogs entering shelters each year: 6-8 million (HSUS estimate)
Number of cats and dogs euthanized by shelters each year: 3-4 million (HSUS estimate)
Number of animal shelters in the United States: between 4,000 and 6,000 (HSUS estimate)
Average number of litters a fertile, 5 month old cat can produce in one year: 3
Average number of kittens in a feline litter: 4-6
Average number of litters a fertile dog can produce in one year: 2
Average number of puppies in a canine litter: 6-10
In seven years, one female cat and her offspring can theoretically produce 420,000 cats.
In six years, one female dog and her offspring can theoretically produce 67,000 dogs.
The solution is this
By implementing widespread sterilization programs, only by spaying and neutering all companion animals, will we get a handle on pet overpopulation. Consider the fact that in six short years, one female dog and her offspring can give birth to 67,000 puppies. In seven years, one cat and her young can produce 420,000 kittens. Given these high reproductive rates, it stands to reason that, in only a few years, carefully planned and implemented sterilization programs could produce a dramatic reduction in the number of unwanted companion animals born. In fact, in those towns and cities that have implemented such programs, we’ve already seen the number of companion animals who had to be euthanized decline by 30 to 60 percent -- even in those communities where human populations have been steadily increasing.
Myth and Facts about Spay Neuter
Myth: My pet will get fat and lazy.
Fact: The truth is that most pets get fat and lazy because their owners feed them too much and don't give them enough exercise.
Myth: It's better to have one litter first.
Fact: Medical evidence indicates just the opposite. In fact, the evidence shows that females spayed before their first heat are typically healthier. Many veterinarians sterilize dogs and cats as young as eight weeks of age.
Myth: My children should experience the miracle of birth.
Fact: Even if children are able to see a pet give birth - which is unlikely, since it usually occurs at night and in seclusion - the lesson they will really learn is that animals can be created and discarded as it suits adults. Instead, it should be explained to children that the real miracle is life and that preventing the birth of some pets can save the lives of others.
Myth: But my pet is a purebred.
Fact: So is at least one out of every four pets brought to animal shelters around the country. There are just too many dogs and cats - mixed and purebred alike.
Myth: I want my dog to be protective.
Fact: Spaying or neutering does not affect a dog's natural instinct to protect home and family. A dog's personality is formed more by genetics and environment than by sex hormones.
Myth: I don't want my male dog or cat to feel like less of a male.
Fact: Pets don't have any concept of sexual identity or ego. Neutering will not change a pet's basic personality. He doesn't suffer any kind of emotional reaction or identity crisis when neutered.
Myth: But my dog (or cat) is so special. I want a puppy (or kitten) just like him/her.
Fact: A dog or cat may be a great pet, but that doesn't mean her offspring will be a carbon copy. In fact, an entire litter of puppies or kittens might receive all of a pet's (and her mate's) worst characteristics.
Myth: It's too expensive to have my pet spayed or neutered.
Fact: There are many affordable spay/neuter options in our community. Please see the resources we have made available. Whatever the actual price, spay or neuter surgery is a one-time cost - a relatively small cost when compared to all the benefits. It's a bargain compared to the cost of having a litter and ensuring the health of the mother and litter; two months of pregnancy and another two months until the litter is weaned can add up to significant veterinary bills and food costs, particularly if complications develop. Most importantly, it's a very small price to pay for the health of your pet and the prevention of the births of more unwanted pets.
Myth: I'll find good homes for all the puppies and kittens.
Fact: You may find good homes for all of your pet's litter. But each home you find means one less home for the dogs and cats in shelters who need good homes. Also, in less than one year's time, each of your pet's offspring may have his or her own litter, adding even more animals to the population. The problem of pet overpopulation is created and perpetuated one litter at a time.
Resource: US Humane Society
Reasons for Neutering Male and Female Rabbits
Prevention of Pregnancy - This is the most common reason that rabbits are neutered, particularly if there are both male and female rabbits living together in a household. There are certainly enough rabbits in the world and too many are neglected or abandoned. One should not consider breeding these pets just for ‘fun’ or ‘education’. Be a responsible pet owner and do not breed your pet unless you are well educated on the topic and are prepared to take on all the responsibilities such activity entails.
Prevention of Uterine Cancer - This is the most compelling medical reason to neuter female rabbits. In some rabbit populations the rate of uterine adenocarcinoma (a malignant uterine cancer) can approach 80% of the females. It is believed that the incidence may be related to the genetic makeup of the rabbit. Since we usually don’t know the genetic background of most of our rabbits, it is best to have the surgery done as a preventative for this cancer. Uterine adenocarcinoma can spread rapidly to other organs of the body such as the liver, lungs and even the skin and it is not treatable once it metastasizes outside of the uterus. We see many cases of this disease each year and sadly these rabbits could have avoided this problem. Rabbits under two years of age rarely develop this disease so it is best to get your female spayed before this age.
Prevention of Other Uterine Disease - Although cancer is the most common disease of the rabbit uterus we see many cases a year of other uterine disease such as pyometra (infected uterus full of pus), uterine aneurism (uterus full of blood) and endometritis (inflamed uterine lining). Like uterine cancer, these conditions are all more common in female rabbits over two years of age.
Prevention of False Pregnancies - Female rabbits can go into a hormonal state triggered by their ovaries where the body acts as if it is pregnant but there is in fact no pregnancy present. Although this is not medically harmful, it can be very stressful for the rabbit that goes through all the activities of being pregnant including nest building, milk production and aggressive protection of its territory. This aggression can be taken out on the caretakers and cagemates and can make the pet very difficult to handle during this period. Some rabbits experiencing false pregnancy will develop a decreased appetite and have gastrointestinal disturbances as well.
Prevention of Mammary Gland (Breast) Disease – Mammary gland cancer is not common in female rabbits, but when it occurs it can spread rapidly and be very difficult to treat. It is preventable if the pet is neutered before two years of age. It is interesting to note that the most common type of mammary cancer is a malignant form called mammary carcinoma and it is almost always associated with uterine cancer. The other common mammary gland disease is mammary dysplasia or cystic mammary glands. This is a benign condition, where the mammary glands fill with a cystic material. It can be uncomfortable to the pet. Neutering a female rabbit before two years of age will prevent both of these diseases.
Prevention of Aggressive Behavior – Both male and female rabbits can display aggressive behavior when they are sexually mature. Many rabbits are sweet and easy to handle as little babies, but when the ‘teenage years’ hit at around six to twelve months of age...watch out! They can become little ‘Frankensteins’ almost overnight! They don't want to be touched or picked up and they act like they want to destroy everything in sight. This is their way of learning to protect themselves, their territory and potential future families and to establish their social position in the big wide rabbit world. However, they can often take out their aggression on you or their cagemates. There may be more biting, striking, lunging and chasing. It is best to neuter just before or shortly after sexual maturity to keep this behavior to a minimum.
Prevention of Urine Spraying - Both male and female rabbits can spray urine on vertical surfaces to mark their territory. Intact mature males do this at least 10 times more frequently than females. In addition, the urine from a sexually mature male rabbit can have a very strong odor that is unpleasant to many humans. If this behavior is allowed to continue for a long period of time, it may be impossible to completely stop this behavior. Therefore, it is best to “nip it in the bud” and get the little guys neutered just prior to or shortly after sexual maturity.
Prevention of Testicular Disease - Disease of the testicle is uncommon in the male rabbit, but it can occur. Most commonly we see abscesses (usually the result of bite wounds from other rabbits), hematomas (blood filled areas) and cancer.
Resource: Dr. Susan Brown (veterinarypartner.com)