Monday, January 18, 2010

Why People Don't Fix Their Pets

Every once in awhile, I run across a statistic that blows my mind. According to a recent article in USA Today, 48% of unsterilized animals acquired in the past year were not neutered or spayed. I guess I'm naive, but with all the PR about pet overpopulation, puppy mills and euthanization, I assumed that these numbers were much lower. Apparently, I'm in good company because according to the article, a whopping 62% of those surveyed between 18-34 years of age estimated that animal shelters euthanize less than 1 million animals annually. (Reality Check: The Humane Society puts that estimate at 4 million annually.)

So why don't people spay or neuter their pets?
  • The top answer (34%) was "pet is too young." So at six months old, it's OK for your dog to get pregnant and have a litter of puppies but not OK for a routine surgical procedure? 
  •  Thirty-one percent surveyed responded that sterilization was "too expensive." I don't buy this excuse, either, since there are so many low-cost spay and neuter programs available through local shelters. In addition, sterilization is usually included in the price of adopting an animal from a shelter. 
  • Which leads us to the next excuse (24%): "haven't gotten around to it." That's great. I'll bet you'll get around to dropping off your pet's unwanted offspring at the shelter. 
  • The remaining responses ("didn't feel it was necessary," "it's not natural," "concerned about impact on pet's personality," "it would deprive pet of natural life") simply show us how much more work and education is needed to improve our spaying and neutering numbers.
OK, I'm off my soapbox for today! But please, spay or neuter your pet. It's the kindest thing you can do for him or her! Ellen

ABOVE IMAGE: Pet overpopulation is an age-old problem as evidenced from this 1909 vintage postcard of an unwanted dog in the city pound.

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