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June 25, 2014: Why it's important to spay and neuter your pets

Instead of simply listing reasons to spay and neuter your pets, I would like to respond to common arguments used by people who are, for one reason or another, against this.

1. Spaying and neutering is unnatural. I have no right to play God.
When we speak about wild animals that are a part of a natural ecosystem, then yes, spaying and neutering is, for the most part, unnatural and unnecessary. Our pets, on the other hand, live in a world that we created, so we are responsible for their well-being. Most veterinarians will tell you that spaying and neutering is part of this well-being and is actually beneficial for your pet's mental and physical health. In the case of homeless pets, this becomes almost mandatory, as population levels can get out of hand very quickly. Playing God? It's important to know the difference between interfering with nature and helping animals. In the urban context, we have to help, since not interfering leads to the suffering of millions of innocent dogs and cats due to overpopulation, including serious health concerns for both people and other animals living in regions with high stray populations.

2. My cat/dog never goes outside. There's no need to spay/neuter him/her.
Spaying and neutering makes your animal more calm. If you're ever seen a dog/cat in heat, you know that they can do some pretty crazy things in this state. By eliminating the need to reproduce, you're creating a more balanced animal. Do a quick search, and you'll see that spaying and neutering your pet is actually good for his physical and mental health. Also, keep in mind that your dog/cat does need much time to get pregnant (or to get another animal pregnant). By letting your non-neutered cat out even for a little bit, you might be contributing to the pet overpopulation problem more than you realize.

3. I want my pet to be able to reproduce.
In an ideal world, this would make sense, but our reality is pretty far from being ideal. Did you know that there are millions of animals killed in shelters in the US every year because of space and time limitations? This is the result of not spaying and neutering. While reproduction can be a beautiful thing, please keep in mind that even one litter (5 puppies) can be pretty challenging (in some cases impossible) to find homes for. You'd think that it would be easy to find homes for cute little puppies or kittens, but unfortunately this is not the case. Furthermore, what if none of the five puppies/kittens was neutered? Think of all the future litters!

4. My dog/cat is of a specific breed.
As far as I see it, all dogs and cats are beautiful. There is no difference between the love and affection you can get from a pure-breed animal and that of a mongrel. If, however, you are a fan of a particular breed, please consider the following: 1) Chances are, this breed is not going extinct. There are plenty of other breeders that will ensure that this remains true. 2) Your animal will actually be happier and healthier when you spay/neuter him or her. 3) There are millions of homeless pets that need homes. By focusing on reproducing one breed, you are making it harder for all of these homeless pets to find homes, which, in effect, is often a death sentence. Once again, we live in desperate times for many dogs and cats. If we truly love our pets, we will remember that there are millions of others just like them looking for homes, and we should do our best to ensure that their numbers don't grow. Instead of getting our animals to reproduce, let's do something selfless and help some of these other pets find good homes.

5. My dog/cat won't be the same if he/she is spayed or neutered.
Most veterinarians agree that a pet becomes healthier once he or she is spayed or neutered. As for changes in personality, these are generally for the better. What usually happens is that a pet basically remains the same, personality-wise, but simply loses some of the traits (such as aggression and wanting to roam outside the house) that can be harmful to both him/herself or others.

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