In 2017, there were 11.6 million dogs reported in the Philippines, placing us as the sixth country with the most number of dogs worldwide. Happiness multiplied to 11.6 million times, we might think!
However, such a delightful thought has a troubling side: Most of these dogs are strays, or in the pound, or in line to be euthanized.
One might call somene who engages in irresponsible pet parenting an “unintentional breeder.” Because they ignored their duty to have their animal companions neutered, they end up having more animals under their care, as would have been the case with someone who breeds animals for a living.
Becoming an unintentional breeder is primarily due to their ignorance or neglect. This leads to a more animals whose births are unplanned. Some of these animals end up on the streets – homeless, hungry, vulnerable to danger and disease, or even euthanized in a pound.
Puppy mill problem
Puppy mills are businesses that breed dogs for profit. Money serves as their motivation for birthing new canines into this world.
This problem is worsened by the presence of so-called unintentional breeders who continue to add to the number of unplanned dog births.
Just because a person isn’t a breeder for profit does not mean they are no longer accountable for the problems they cause. This means that a pet parent who started off with two dogs and now has 20 because of a failure to neuter and spay also contributes to the problem of stray animals, just like puppy mills.
Prioritizing community animals
There is no good reason for bringing more cats and dogs into this world when their cousins are being put down everyday in pounds and kill shelters.
As People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) put it, “Breeding animals is killing them” – for every new dog brought into this world due to irresponsible pet parenting, another shelter dog loses their chance to find a home, a chance to find a family, and a chance to live.
Is breeding bad?
Breeding endangered animals ensures the continuity of their species. There are various conservation groups and programs that aim to breed endangered species so that their kind ma continue to survive.
However, it is a different matter when it comes to dogs, cats, rabbits, and other animals treated as animal companions. Increasing the population of these animals is not necessary; if anything, there are too many of them who still don’t have a home.
Drawing the line
The suffering and death of these animals can be prevented with neutering. Neutering is the process of altering the reproductive ability of an animal, most commonly through a surgical procedure.
Different terms also apply, such as castration, fixing, and spaying.
An exponential problem
A pair of intact male and female cats can lead to 12 births in one year, 67 births in two years, 11,801 births in five years. These cats will fight for resources and will be prone to disease, exposure, and other problems related to living in the streets.
Just by neutering one male and one female cat, more than two million lives would be saved from a cruel fate in a span of eight years.
Sometimes, pet parents know what neutering is but choose not to have their animal companions fixed because they still have many unanswered questions.
The most common concern they may have is that neutering will make their fur-babies fat. While neutering does lead to weight gain because a lower level of sex hormones lowers metabolism, the benefits outweigh the risk. Besides, obesity is a multifactorial problem, and if one ensures that the animals remains physically active and that they’re given the right amount of food, the risk for weight gain is managed well.
Dr. Jocelyn Ignacio shared with us a few more misconceptions on pet neutering and the rightful answers to it.
Myth #1: Neuthering causes a lot of pain
No, neutering does not cause chronic pain. An animal is placed under anesthesia, the same way a person is when they undergo surgery, so that they won’t have any memory nor feel any pain during the procedure. Medication for post-operative pain will also be prescribed.
Myth #2: A neutered male animal stops acting like a male
Your male fur-baby is still a male after the procedure. Reproductive organs (or the lack thereof) do not make a cat or dog any less male (or female) after any surgery that can affect their reproductive capability the same way a human who undergoes reproductive surgery is still the same gender they are post-operatively.
Myth #3: A neutered animal will have an unfulfilled life without the capacity to have children
There is no evidence that a female dog feels depressed or unfulfilled just because they do not give birth. Any pet parent caring for a fixed animal will tell you that their companion animals are happy even after surgery. If anything, spaying can help animals have a better quality of life, with a lower risk of reproductive system disorders.
Enjoying the benefits
A neutered animal has a lower risk for certain diseases. Certain behavioral problems may also abate, especially those influenced by male hormones, such as wandering off, fighting with other males looking for females in heat, and urinating to mark their territory.
What can you do?
It would take everyone’s cooperation to help ensure that our community animals receive the care they deserve.
Consult your fur-baby’s veterinarian about neutering if you have more questions. Watch out for spay and neuter programs by the city veterinarian as well as various animal organizations in your area. Engage more people in conservation about unintentional breeding and the benefits of neutering.
Don’t underestimate your power to influence others!
In January 2020, Humane Society International (HSI) reported that their street dog programs in India and the Philippines facilitated the spay and neuter of 5,000 dogs and the vaccination of 30,000 animals.
This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s March-April 2021 issue.