February is Spay and Neuter Awareness month and World Spay Day is observed Feb. 25.
February 2014 marks the 20th year of this global campaign, presented by the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, to highlight the importance of spay and neuter as an effective means of saving the lives and reducing the suffering of companion animals all over the world. Here are some statistics:
Approximately five to seven million companion animals enter animal shelters every year. Only 10 percent of the animals received by shelters have been spayed or neutered.
About 2.7 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs - about one every 11 seconds - are euthanized in U.S. shelters every year.
Sixty-seven percent of West Virginia households have pets; 35 percent are not altered.
There were 144,321 animals that entered West Virginia shelters in 2011: 77,000 were killed (the majority were healthy, adoptable animals.)
Twenty-nine percent of West Virginia's pet population enters shelters compared to 4 percent of the U.S. pet population.
More than $8 million dollars is spent annually for animal control throughout West Virginia. The average cost to handle an animal in West Virginia is $56 taxpayer dollars.
The first heat cycle in cats and dogs is at approximately 7-8 months of age.
Female dogs come into heat two to three times a year.
A female dog is in heat for approximately three weeks.
Female cats come into heat at irregular intervals, usually more often during the spring and summer.
Female cats may not go out of heat until they are bred.
Dogs and cats are pregnant for approximately 63 days.
Cats can get pregnant while nursing.
Intact males and females in the same house will breed even if they are brother and sister or father and daughter.
One female cat and her offspring can produce 370,000 cats in seven years. One female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in six years.
Benefits of spaying female dogs and cats:
Reduced chance of mammary cancer in female dogs. Spaying a female dog prior to the first heat cycle reduces the risk of mammary cancer by nearly 100; eliminates the risk of uterine infections.
Eliminates the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer.
Eliminates heat cycles and the undesirable elements of the heat cycle such as bleeding, crying and nervous behaviors.
Benefits of neutering male dogs and cats:
Reduces the risk of prostate disease.
Eliminates the risk of testicular cancer.
Reduces the chance of hernia.
Decreases spraying. Neutering male cats at a young age will decrease their tendency to spray and mark territory.
Decreases unwanted and aggressive behavior. Neutering can help increase a pet's attention span and focus, making a pet more responsive to training. Decreased hormone levels can also result in decreased aggression and other behavior problems.
A USA Today (May 7, 2013) article cites that pets who live in the states with the highest rates of spaying/neutering also live the longest. According to the report, neutered male dogs live 18 percent longer than un-neutered male dogs and spayed female dogs live 23 percent longer than unspayed female dogs.
Spaying and neutering our pets is the best answer to the problem of abandoned, homeless animals and the ugly reality of euthanasia. All animals residing at the Randolph County Humane Society are altered prior to adoption. The adoption fees include spay/neuter, vaccination, and immunizations, and are quite reasonable considering the shelter expense required to care for them and prepare them for adoption.
Right now we can all be part of the solution by spaying and neutering our pets. Call your veterinarian and make that appointment. When considering your next pet, adopt an animal from the Randolph County Humane society. Show your support by sponsoring a spay/neuter for a RCHS shelter resident. Our four-footed companions will thank you by living safer, longer, healthier and happier lives, and your action will benefit your community.